“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.
They seem not to notice us, hovering,
averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks,
but what we do for them is never wasted.”
At the close of the Christmas Outreach Event in Bangkok (my second speaking engagement), I was presented with the most exquisite presentation bouquet. My immediate response was to cradle it in the crook of my left arm and then fold into a traditional ballerina curtsy—right knee nestled behind left, bending gracefully from the waist. Dejavu set in and I felt as if I was back in my beauty queen days. Back on the stage accepting roses after my annual recital. Taken off guard by this beautiful gesture of gratitude, I humbly accepted and felt so honored. I can honestly say I have never been given such a grand bouquet after speaking in the States. Thailand’s gentle, gracious sense of respect and honor, quite honestly, humbled me.
Life is funny that way, isn’t it? It seems all my years in beauty pageants and dance performance—all my years on the performance stage—had prepared me for the stage of my speaking and teaching ministry. One beautiful Korean (I believe) woman, when sharing testimonies about the retreat, looked at me and said, “You entertainer for the Bible!” I smiled, saying, “Is that a compliment?”
“Oh yes!” she said. “That is a good thing! You make us see the Bible!”
At that moment, I thought to myself, “Well, Lord, you never waste anything, do you? All those years on the stage are now being transferred to animating the Word of God!” I wasn’t quite sure how my gregarious, vivacious (that is a nice way to describe, LOUD!) personality would be received in Asian culture, but God knew.
A very familiar Bible passage, found in Jeremiah 29:11-13, says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” So often this passage is overused and underappreciated. Reading it today, while on the threshold of a new year, it takes on new meaning and gives food for thought:
- God knows the plan.
- The plan is one to prosper me, not harm me. (Meaning, even the hard, difficult valleys of my life will prove beneficial and eventually prosperous. When I look in hindsight, I see that this is often the case. I learn the most from the difficult paths.)
- His plans will give me hope.
- His plans will give me a future.
- He listens to all of my ramblings.
- He is real and will be with me.
And, somehow, in-between the lines of these scriptures, I feel as though God assures that nothing is wasted. We might feel as if there are times, experiences, training, education, relationships, or days and years, that are wasted or wasting away, but in God’s economy, nothing is wasted in a consecrated life. Ultimately, he will use every last drop of our lives to the glory of his name.
Tonight, the world (well, at least part of the world) ushers in a new year. Like fresh paint on an old canvas, a new year offers the opportunity to do things differently. To approach God and life anew. To open the boxes of our lives and say, “Okay, God, I’m all yours!”
Perhaps you feel as though you have wasted away some aspect of your life. Or, perhaps, that God has forgotten you. Maybe you have been wondering why you have training, education, or experience in a certain area, asking, “Why in the world did I spend those years training in that area? What a waste!”
Before the clock strikes midnight, take a moment to give God 2010. Ring in the new year—365 days full of opportunity and unimaginable experiences—with an eternal conversation. I am believing for even greater ministry, greater spheres of influence, and a greater relationship with my God, who assures me that “nothing is wasted.”