“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good . . .” (Genesis 50:20)
In the back corner of our basement there’s an area with a workbench.
A large Craftsman tool cabinet sits next to it, six or seven drawers worth of odds and ends plus actual tools for making or fixing things. The wall behind the workbench is a peg board with an array of hooks upon which to hang accessories that might be useful in the woodworking craft or other miscellaneous household projects. At least that’s the intent.
Once I’ve distinguished between a Philips-head and a flat-head screwdriver, my skills with tools are pretty much exhausted. Thus, very little craftsmanship or woodworking takes place at the so-called workbench. A more truthful designation for that part for the basement would be “storage room.”
Step into this part of the basement and what you’ll find is a healthy collection of stuff that we’ve not really touched since we moved into the home two years ago. There are a couple of ice coolers and a dorm sized refrigerator that my kids don’t need since their school provides a fridge in every dorm room. There are boxes of things we probably should have gotten rid of before we left Georgia. What you’ll also find in this part of the basement is a decent collection of scraps – left over materials from various household projects that were done by the previous homeowner. Among the scraps you will find samplings of bathroom tile and an assortment of paint cans.
Maybe you’ve got a place like this in your house. Here’s my theory: the scraps accumulate because they are perfectly good materials – but we have no idea what to do with them, and we can’t bear to throw them away after paying perfectly good money for them in the first place. The underlying conviction in all of this is that surely these things are good for something. But we can’t say what. So, there they sit, taking up floor space.
A Life by Design
The sight of my cluttered would-be workshop provides me with a way of understanding the story of Joseph. In the coming weeks as we walk through the Joseph stories from the book of Genesis, we’re going to learn something about the way God deals with us and works in our lives.
What we’ll see may be summed up like this: God never leaves scraps. Nothing is wasted, nothing thrown out. Even the moments that seem like junk, random pieces of your story that weren’t useful then and make no sense to you even now. Everything you live through is something that God takes in hand like a tool to craft your life according to its intended design. That’s basically the story of Joseph. And what God did then in his life, God still does in yours. As with Joseph, so with you.
Joseph was despised by his brothers, sold to slave traders, accused of rape, imprisoned and subsequently ignored by the parole board – until a door opened in government service and Joseph ascended to the right hand of the Pharaoh. And in all of that, nothing was wasted. When God designs and builds a life, there are no scraps.
Your Soul’s Workshop
Maybe your life has a would-be workshop, a place in your soul where you’ve collected some things that you don’t know what to do with, but you can’t seem to let go of. Remember – God wastes nothing.
That divorce you didn’t want, the illness you didn’t expect, the tears you’ve shed over a difficult child, the misunderstanding that cost you a friend, the job you wanted but didn’t get, the job you had but couldn’t keep – all of it becomes a scalpel in God’s hand, cutting us deeply while making us whole.
Perhaps in the weeks to come you’ll begin to see that Joseph’s story looks very much like your story. Pieces of your life that seem like scrap are essential material in a design you could never imagine. Nothing is wasted.
Of course, you can’t see that right now. You can read the words I’m writing, but deep down you don’t believe them. Let’s remember that as Joseph sat in an Egyptian prison, falsely accused, he wasn’t thinking of God’s good plan for his life. It would take years before Joseph could speak what we read in Genesis 50:20. There Joseph is able to say to the brothers who harmed and hated him, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
What have you hidden away in the would-be workshop of your life? Do you see some random pieces, unwanted events or circumstances that don’t make sense? Here’s an invitation to place your story in God’s hands, remembering that God doesn’t leave scraps.
Ever creating God, so many life experiences seem like random left-over pieces that we can’t throw away, but we don’t know what to do with. Today we offer the material of our lives to you, trusting you as a master craftsman who wastes nothing. Use all that we bring, and even what we try to hide, to shape your will and character is us, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.