Monday, April 20, 2009

Nothing Wasted

Part of our basement is a woodshop, complete with woodworking bench, shelves for tools, and an array of hooks upon which to hang accessories that might be useful in the woodworking craft. At least that’s the intent. Once I’ve distinguished between a Philips- head and a flat-head screwdriver, my skills with tools are pretty much exhausted. Thus, very little woodworking actually takes place in the so-called woodshop. A more truthful designation for that part for the basement would be “storage room.”

Step into this part of the basement and what you’ll find is a healthy collection of stuff that we couldn’t manage to throw away. There is an old oven down there, along with a Gateway computer. And there are plenty of scraps – left over materials from various household projects. Among the scraps you will find a pack of roofing shingles, several samplings of bathroom tile, a collection of paint cans, odd pieces of bead board and sheet rock.

The scraps accumulate because they are perfectly good materials – but we have no idea what to do with them. The underlying conviction in all of this is that surely these things are good for something. But I can’t say what. So there they sit, taking up floor space.

The sight of my mildly cluttered would-be woodshop provides me with a way of understanding the story of Joseph. In the coming weeks as we walk through the Joseph stories from the book of Genesis, we’re going to learn something about the way God deals with us and works in our lives.

What we’ll see may be summed up like this: God never leaves scraps. Nothing is wasted, nothing thrown out. Everything you live through is something that God takes in hand like a tool to craft your life according to its intended design. That’s basically the story of Joseph. As with Joseph, so with you.

Joseph was despised by his brothers, sold to slave traders, accused of rape, imprisoned and subsequently ignored by the parole board – until a door opened in government service and Joseph ascended to the right hand of the Pharaoh. And in all of that, nothing was wasted. When God designs and builds a life, there are no scraps.

Maybe your life has a would-be woodshop, a place in your soul where you’ve collected some things that you don’t know what to do with but you can’t seem to let go of. Remember – God wastes nothing.

That divorce you didn’t want, the illness you didn’t expect, the tears you’ve shed over a difficult child, the misunderstanding that cost you a friend, the job you wanted but didn’t get, the job you had but couldn’t keep - all of it becomes a scalpel in God’s hand, cutting us deeply while making us whole.

Perhaps in the weeks to come you’ll begin to see that Joseph’s story is actually your story. Pieces of your life that seem like scrap are essential material in a design you could never imagine. Nothing is wasted.

What have you hidden away in the would-be woodshop of your life?

Ever creating God, so many life experiences seem like scrap – left over pieces that we can’t throw away, but we don’t know what to do with. Today we offer the material of our lives to you, trusting you as a master craftsman who wastes nothing. Use all that we bring, and even what we try to hide, to shape your will and character is us, we pray. Amen.

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