Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not one scrap wasted...

The idea for this blog came to me while I was picking up dog doo. Let me explain. I was cleaning up after my dog, Jim. I’m embarrassed to say that there was quite a lot of poop to scoop. Since the weather had been so cold, the kids hadn’t played outside in awhile. Therefore, the backyard just hadn’t been a top priority. So there was a lot of doo. Some had just about turned to dirt, and you could scarcely tell it was there.

That reminded me of power walking with my friend Pam. We sped through Highland Park, and you could smell the fresh manure. Manure makes fabulous fertilizer. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “God doesn’t waste a thing. Even poo has a purpose.”

And that brings me to this…even our mistakes can be used to serve God’s Kingdom.
I just love reading the book of Acts. Specifically, Paul’s conversion. He was initially called Saul, and makes his first scriptural appearance in Acts 7:58. This is where Stephen (one of the believers) is dragged out of the city by the Pharisees and stoned to death. The verse reads, “They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. The official witnesses took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
Stephen had been testifying that Jesus was the Messiah the prophets foretold. Upon his death, the believers got out of there. Acts 8:1 says “A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem, and all the believers except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria.” Now skip down to Acts 8:3, “Saul was going everywhere to devastate the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into jail.”

Saul (Paul) was a scary guy. He was smart. A devout Jew, a Pharisee trained under Gamaliel (the most respected teacher of the Law at the time). He knew the Law of Moses inside out. Second, he sincerely believed that the Christian movement was a danger to Judaism. He persecuted believers without mercy. He tells us in his own words in Acts 26:11, “Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to get them to curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands.”

Destroying “The Way,” or the Christian movement, became his obsession. “Meanwhile Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them – both men and women – back to Jerusalem in chains.” Acts 9:1-2.

On the road to Damascus, everything changed…forever. The scriptures tell us as Saul and his companions made their way, a brilliant light from heaven flashed…and Saul fell flat on his face. He heard a voice say, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Acts 9:4. It was Jesus Himself.

You likely know the rest of the account. Saul is blinded by the encounter, so the men he’s traveling with take him into the city. Hesits in Damascus for three days. He doesn’t eat a bite. He doesn’t drink a drop. And Saul, now Paul, becomes the most powerful evangelist in the history of Christianity…writing the majority of the New Testament.

How perfect. Who could be a better testimony to the power of Jesus Christ…than the very man who sought to wipe out His followers? The best witness you can give for Jesus is a changed life.
I can tell you this. People I ran with 10 years ago wouldn’t find me too much fun these days. The girl who was buying the shots is now the girl building a ministry. I’m not better than anyone. I’ve sinned so much I can’t bear to think of it. The good news is this…God doesn’t think of it either. When we repent and turn from our sin, the Lord promises us in Isaiah 43:25, “I – yes I alone – am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” There is so much freedom in that verse! You don’t have to feel guilty! Learn from your mistakes…don’t live in them! Another verse to cling to is Isaiah 43:18 – “But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” The NIV phrases it this way – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

I wish I had the courage to tell you how far I’ve fallen, and how far I’ve come. I think the reason I love Paul’s story so much…is perhaps because I relate to him…so much. I shudder to think of the stories my sisters, college room-mates and old co-workers could tell you. But I also realize that because of those same stories, God has a powerful witness in me. You want to see the saving power of Jesus Christ? Just look at me. He lifted me up from the depths of some awful pits. And I believe He will use me to comfort others who reside in those same pits. And lead them to the One who can raise them…and redeem them.

I’ll never make the impact on the church that Paul did. I’ll never make even a tiny fraction of it. But I’ll do my best to make my changed life a powerful testimony. One last thing. I simply can’t read Isaiah 43:18 without reading verse 19 as well, because it’s chock full of hope and promise. Isaiah 43:18-19 – “But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!” (Emphasis mine.)

Glory to God! Let the living water quench your thirst.
* For more of Rebecca's blogs, along with daily devotions (titled "daily bread" go to

1 comment:

  1. My dad use to tell us the same thing when he was teaching us how to bat. He would say "Always keep your eye on the ball!" I wasn't very good at baseball either, but it helped me when i played soccer. I could get the ball away from some of the best forwards by using that saying. But until I read your musings, I never ever thought to apply that to everyday living. Thank you so much!