My grandmother often told me stories of living through the depression. When I steamed the nice white paper from some of the gifts at my wedding shower so that I could reuse it to wrap my bridesmaids’ gifts, my parents laughed and said that I take after my grandma. While that was over 20 years ago now, I still find myself not a fan of waste.
God isn’t into waste either. Nothing we do for Him is useless. Even when something doesn’t work out right and it seems we’ve wasted our time, money, or talents, God uses our efforts in ways we cannot begin to understand in this life.
When we bought our current home, I was so excited to plant flowers. That first fall, I buried tulip bulbs around the mailbox and in the front flowerbeds. They weren’t much to look at when I covered them with soil, but by the following spring those ugly bulbs had transformed into gorgeous, colorful tulips. Like a tulip bulb, our end game is not a buried, unattractive lump. One day we will experience new life as we spring into our spiritual bodies.
What are the realities of your “tulip bulb” life? For me, these realities include housework, writing projects, serving in my church, and sometimes…. difficult people. However, 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us that this life is not all there is..
“Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.” (43-44)
God takes our broken and weak natural human bodies and transforms them into glorious, strong spiritual bodies. Paul ends his resurrection teaching with a verse encouraging us that what we do in the meantime really matters. He says, “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)
He said we should:
- Be strong and immovable
- Work enthusiastically for the Lord
- Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless
Just as our physical bodies will be transformed, so our earthly living can be transformed with purpose. Because there is more to this life than what we can see, we live in anticipation.
We do not have to live weak and unstable lives; instead we are to take a posture that is strong and immovable. Even when we are tired and discouraged, we are to work enthusiastically. Everything we do matters! Nothing we do for the Lord is useless.
Nothing includes everything from laundry (serving) to ministry (investing) to careers (providing). We can work enthusiastically on both the smallest and the biggest of tasks. God doesn’t waste anything. Not a crumb of prayer, service, study, or manual labor will be swept away.
Some time ago I spoke at an event that was very poorly attended and seemed to be a waste of time. I remember asking God if I had not heard Him correctly about it. Several weeks later, I got a call from someone who extended a great opportunity for me to teach and serve in just the capacity I feel called. At the end of the long conversation, I asked the person, “How did you get my name and number?” The individual told me that someone who had attended the small event had recommended me for this larger opportunity. What I had seen as a waste ended up opening a much bigger door. God was reminding me yet again not to manipulate but to listen to Him and then obey.
What seems like a waste to us might reap big results later. God’s Holy Spirit knows much better than we do where we should go and what we should do. Our responsibility is to seek Him and follow where He leads. When we do, we can live in His strength and work enthusiastically for Him, remembering that He doesn’t waste a thing. My grandma would say “Amen” to that!