Friday, February 16, 2007

From Garbage to Gold

When you are envious of someone’s accomplishment or read of their life adventures, did you ever stop to think that except for some tragedy or obstacle in their life they would not have had a story to tell?

Almost everything in our life that is worthwhile comes forth out of being tried in the fire.
Think about the people you admire, past and present , who have inspiring stories to tell, are not the best ones about men and women who overcame great difficulties in their lives?

We have so many examples in the bible…many of whose stories are our favorites.
Daniel in the lion’s den… We love the adventure and delight in God’s miraculous intervention. Yet, his story came out of tragedy and terrible circumstances. He was ruthlessly snatched away from his childhood home and security , his manhood stolen from him and he was sentenced to the life of a eunuch slave. Because he refused to deny God, he was condemned to be thrown into a den of hungry lions. I wonder how many nights Daniel lay awake agonizing over the pain in his life.
Joseph was mistreated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison , betrayed over and over by those he trusted. We love the irony of him being made second to Pharaoh and a ruler over Egypt. We love how he saved his people from starvation and how he tested his brothers. But his glory did not come without pain.

We are so spoiled in lives of comparative affluence that we want everything to be easy. God did not promise us an easy life. In fact , Jesus promised that we would have tribulation !
Why? because He wants us to struggle and be unhappy? No, a thousand times no !
It is because out of darkness the light shines brightest, out of despair comes the joy of hope realized, out of sickness comes healing, out of devastation comes a miracle ! Without a problem you can have no solution ! Without a prayer , there can come no answer.

I have learned to look expectantly to my Father when something goes ‘wrong’ in my life…. knowing that here is an opportunity for God to intervene… here is an opening for a miracle. It is not that I am a masochist – far from it – I would like to avoid all the pitfalls in life as much as anyone…but when things do go awry , whether it is an irritant or a major catastrophe I look to see what God will do !
It is amazing what His creative hands can do with the things we would love to throw away!
If you and I had been given a calendar listing all the events of our life and we were given a black pen to cross out anything we would prefer to eliminate, I know that we would have indicated all of the things that in hindsight had the most value.
Think back on your life…. did you not grow the most spiritually in your darkest times? Are not some of your most precious memories when God delivered you out of a hopeless situation? The apostle Paul in II Tim. 3:11 talks about the things he endured… persecutions and afflictions … but you can almost hear the jubilation in his voice when he shouts….”and out of them ALL the Lord delivered me !!

As we mature in our Christian walk, we learn to recognize that the trials of our life bring forth the best fruit and that we can trust God in the most difficult situations…..but I think few of us have learned that God wants us to give Him the little things too. The small irritants and things that go wrong in any given day. If we give them to God and ask Him to turn them into gold…He will. It is amazing how our days change if our first response when something goes wrong is to look up and ask God what He can do with it.

I remember one hair appointment I had with a new hair dresser. As I was waiting I picked up one of the shop magazines and flipped through. One article caught my eye that said you should never let a hair stylist work on your hair if she was upset. Interesting , I thought. When my hair was washed and the stylist began to cut , we got into a casual conversation and then she started to tell me about her dad and his new wife. As she went on some of the details began to sound a little familiar and on a whim, I asked if her father’s wife’s name was Darlene.
She stopped , scissors in hand and demanded, “How do you know?”
I replied that Darlene was my best friend. She became extremely agitated and upset…the words tumbling over one another about this horrible woman her dad had married.
The advice in the article flashed into my mind, and I was strongly tempted to get up and leave, but I knew this was no co-incidence, that God had ordered this encounter.
I tried to calm her as I prayed for insight. She really was not willing to listen to any other viewpoint than her own and we changed the subject.
When I got to the car , I thought my hair felt funny and when I looked into the mirror , one side was a good 4” shorter than the other side. I did not have easy hair to manage and a good cut was very important. I struggled with my emotions all the way home and was determined to go somewhere else to try to have the damage repaired. But the Lord softly told me to go back to the same girl.
I resisted , fearing she would only make the damage worse. But, in the end, I called the shop, asked to speak to her and explained my problem. She was very defensive and denied that she could possible have done anything wrong. I made another appointment ….and having prayed earnestly for God to help me reach out to her and help her if I could….I went back to the shop. She was not very friendly at first but I joked about the mistake and told her about the article I had read just before she cut my hair, laughingly taking full responsibility for the bad hair cut.
She began to relax and we had a good conversation. Over the next few visits we talked about a lot of the things she was struggling with…..and she was willing to listen to me when I talked about the Lord. My ruined hair was a small price to pay. It grew back!

One day when my 4 year old creative granddaughter was leaving, after a visit at our house, she turned back and remarked, “Nanna, if you have any garbage , give it to me because I can make something with it.”

God knows how to take your ‘garbage’ and make something with it!
All He asks is that you give it to Him and watch Him work it all into gold!

1 comment:

Lovella said...

Julie, I feel like I should copy and paste your post and add it to mine today. My heart is already so full and now its starting to leak badly. Have a wonderful day.