Never a Waste

Bad stuff in our past is bad, right? At least that’s what I always thought. I have regrets from poor choices I made when a teenager. I have less-than-pleasant memories of spousal conflict in the early years of our marriage. I have remorse over so many self-centered things I’ve said or done, as well as over the multitude of good things I’ve left undone or unsaid. If only those blemishes could be erased from my history.

I know that God forgave me for each failure when I asked Him. He wiped my slate clean. But I still carry the memories. And I still wonder at times why God didn’t jump in front of me waving a gigantic “Stop” sign, preventing me from plunging ahead into self-made problems.

But last week as John (my husband) and I sat chatting with a couple, I had a revelation. It almost brought me to tears.

As this husband and wife shared about the struggles they were having, I was struck with how similar their issues are to ones John and I fought about in our early years. But then a wave of gratitude washed over me as I realized that we are stronger people today for having faced those conflicts and worked through them. Little did we realize when we were muddling our way through difficulties that God would one day allow us to share the lessons we learned with others who aren’t quite as far down the road of life. I found myself overcome with thanksgiving for every tough test… because each one has actually enriched us.

Am I therefore saying that we should all stockpile failures in order to better identify with other messed-up people? In order to have a more thrilling testimony? In order to have more for God to transform? Not at all… Read Romans 6, 7 and 8… sin is never a good idea. However disappointments and defeats seem to be an inevitable part of life on planet Earth. The amazing thing about God is that He is not limited by the bad stuff. In fact, He is totally able to take life’s biggest botches and turn them into something good. He uses them to make us more like Jesus… if we let Him.

I guess I’m back to the story in April’s blog entry. The Master Artist can bring beauty to any canvas, no matter how dark and ugly the stains on it. I just have to allow Him to be my Instructor.

Some days I shake my head over God’s amazing grace… that He can take my “negatives” and turn them into pluses… how does He do that? I don’t know, but I’m certainly glad He does.

So… I look back with a warm appreciation for even the bad stuff… because it has brought about some incredibly good stuff. By God’s grace I am richer today because of yesterday. Then I look at the challenges I face today, the battles I haven’t yet won, the circumstances I dislike. I wish God would just “poof” them away with a snap of His fingers. But then again, if He did that, I’d miss out on an extraordinary opportunity to learn from my Maker… I’d miss out on a better, richer tomorrow… and that would truly be a waste!