The news article that exposed the recycling con last weekend was quite sensational. Government officials now admit that much of the recycled waste, carefully sorted by the British public, ends up sold overseas to companies that then discard it in landfills in Asia. Even our best green efforts seem to end up wasted.
I’m thankful that Jesus takes a different approach; he doesn’t waste anything we bring to him from our past lives.
Last week a group of friends in our lounge were reading some of the resurrection stories in John’s gospel together. We ended up with the fishing miracle by Galilee and Jesus’ recommissioning of Peter (in John chapter 21). I remember commenting that, if I was Peter, I would have thought God was clearly finished with me. A loud denial of friendship, a running away, a giving up, a return to an old life – all indicators of this fisherman’s harrowing Easter ordeal and end of the road feeling. How amazing then, that Jesus recreates the scene in which he first called Peter to follow him. The same miracle of fish, the same revelation of Jesus’ power, the same initiative of Jesus and the same love and vision in his heart for this man called Peter.
God’s calling and purpose for each of our lives is a stronger force than we really know. He can find ways of weaving in our past mistakes and rerouting our paths to bring our diversions back into His overall plan, if we only, truly want to love and follow Him. That was all Jesus really wanted to know about Peter that day. Was this a total meltdown of life and faith? Was it an un-mendable fault line in his character beyond repair? Apparently not and, heartening for us, not much is irredeemable by God’s hand, beyond a hardness of heart and an unwillingness to receive His forgiving grace.
This story made us think more radically about God’s ability to renew and re-use. If Peter (and the robber on the cross, and Thomas, alongside the whole raggedy bunch of disciples) was able to be re-commissioned, then what about the rest of us? Could a repentant Judas have been welcomed back and reinstated? Could a hard headed Jewish high priest, a wavering Roman governor, a turn coat face in the crowd have been potential subjects for redemption? Never underestimate either God’s resourcefulness or willingness to put you in the right and keep leading you down the path of life.
Thank God that my past does not have to disqualify me, nor my present mistakes have to abort God’s plans for my life and future. Nothing is wasted in his hands. Now doesn’t that give us cause to jump out of the boat and wade through water to him, just like Peter did? An embrace and a destiny await us if we will keep saying ‘yes’ to God.