Paper, Plastic, or Brought Your Own?…

Hartman’s Lawn Service gave me my first job. I was an extra mower, so whenever they needed a bunch of hands for a job or someone called in sick, I got the call. We saved the grass clippings for mulch.

Box-Boy at the local grocery store was the first job I got on my own. Back then we used paper sacks for the groceries. I remember when plastic bags were introduced; supposedly to ease use and reduce waste. Plastic bags didn’t work very well for bread, milk, or too many canned goods; but the handles made it easy to hold about five in each hand.

Some people insisted on paper because they were familiar with them. Plastic was a new concept and we didn’t know much about the effects they had on the environment. Paper sacks never really faded out like it was thought they would. Today, people bring their own bags; recycling and re-using the same bag for months or even years. The idea is to reduce waste.

In nature, waste seems to be a natural topic. As I drove through an area that was recently caught up in a forest fire, I saw stages of regrowth and new life. At the time of the fire, most everything was charred and appeared to be lifeless, ruined, and worthless. What was once considered disposable, is now valuable and life-giving.

Animals don’t seem too concerned about reducing, reusing, or recycling. Animals don’t seem too concerned with consumer packaging. Animals don’t seem to be too concerned about creature comforts. Nothing in the animal world seems to go to waste. A dead animal decays and returns to the cirle. Even animal poo is used to nourish plants and eventually feed other animals. Predators keep a herd moving so they don’t eat in the same places too often. Everything seems to have a purpose, it all seems to fit into the circle. Waste contributes to life.

As I listened to a podcast from Irwin McManus, I learned that God uses our ‘wasted experiences’ for His purposes. God doesn’t discard us because we’ve made a mistake, chosen poorly, or got stuck in behavioral patterns. God uses it all. Our pain, disappointment, failure, fear, doubt, and anything we count as negative helps us to relate with others. Our unique scars help those with similar scars feel included into God’s family. It is only when we are dishonest with ourselves that we become estranged from others.

How isolated are you today? How can I encourage you to hear and heed the Father’s wooing to your heart? How can I help you filter out the lies that say you’ve wasted your life, you’re no better than trash, or that you’ll never be anything of value?

As always, I invite your comments, questions, thoughts, and concerns. I’d love to hear your words of encouragement related to waste, pain, and ultimate goodness.

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