Anytime I go on a trip, I’m so afraid I will forget to pack something extremely important, like underwear or pants or my hairbrush or 7 books. My way to prevent this is by making a list and taping it to the inside of my front door, adding as I think of things, and crossing off as they are packed.
But it’s inevitable that I will forget something. When I went to Ecuador this summer for a mission trip, I forgot all socks, other than the pair I was wearing and a spare pair in my carry-on – not enough for our 2-week trip. Thankful it wasn’t the pants.
The reason we pack these things is because we will need them. Situations will come up and the things in our bags will serve us well.
We will have bad breath and be able to use our toothbrushes. We will get our clothes dirty and need new pants. We will sleep and need a hairbrush to get rid of our bedhead.
In the same way, it’s necessary for us to keep our life experiences at the top of our metaphorical bag so we can whip them out when the situation calls for it.
Sometimes those things are good, and we’re as happy as Pharrell Williams to get those experiences back out and use them. Happily married? We can use that to encourage other couples. Graduated from college? We can use that to serve our purpose God has given us and to inspire others to pursue their own education. Living without credit cards? We can motivate friends by showing them it is possible to live within their means.
But we’ve all got some ugly stuff in our experience bags too. And I most often prefer to leave those way down in the bottom of my bag where no one will notice them.
But there’s a purpose for even those things.
Sickness or disease, still waiting for healing – God can use that.
Painful divorce that you wish you could forget – He won’t waste it.
Past abuse – He can make good come even from that.
Sins you caused yourself – God can make beautiful things out of every part of our story. I have experienced it first-hand.
Our stories can be an inspiration to somebody. Our stories can offer guidance, either in a “See how I did it? You can do that too!” Or a “Please don’t do what I did… Take my advice. Learn from my mistakes.”
Like Jason Gray says, “In the hands of our Redeemer, nothing is wasted.” Thank You, Lord, for that!
Can God really use all my junk and make something good from it? I believe He can.
But the tricky part sometimes is being willing to get these stories out of our bags as others need them. It’s so much easier to leave them be, hidden and forgotten. But God really doesn’t waste anything, and if He has a purpose for my story, then I don’t want to stand in the way of that.
Think about your story today. Write it down if you have a few minutes. The really good parts, and the really hard parts – both can be used for great things in the hand of our Redeemer. Spend a few minutes with God today offering all the parts of your story back to Him.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” Psalm 107:2a