Take a close look at the intricate design above. Did you notice the artist’s medium? Corks!
And look at what some clever soul did with some old tires.
And how about this stemware rack? Quite the creative use for a discarded garden rake.
All three of these projects are examples of upcycling—the process of converting useless products and waste materials into new products of higher quality or value than the original.
On a much grander scale, consider: those of us who know Jesus have also been upcycled.
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
– 2 Corinthians 5:17
And what does that new, upcycled life include?
- The opportunity for intimacy with Almighty God
- A fresh perspective on life
- Strength to face whatever might happen
- A glorious certainty for the future
- A deep sense of peace and joy that circumstances cannot destroy
And that’s just the beginning of the list.
Just as resourceful people are able to upcycle any number of materials, God can use everything in our lives:
- Every relationship
- Every situation
- Every trial
- Every hurt
- Even every failure
No matter what we go through, God can upcycle the experience to create something worthwhile. Good things like: 1) important life-lessons, 2) steps in his carefully orchestrated plan for our lives, and 3) a positive influence upon others.
Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.
(founder of Alcoholics Anonymous)
Paul expressed the same truth in scripture:
“God is able to orchestrate everything
to work toward something good and beautiful
when we love him and accept his invitation
to live according to his plan.”
–Romans 8:28, The Voice, italics added)
The inconsequential bits of our lives are never wasted in God’s economy either. For example: He uses every good deed, every exercise of self-discipline, every effort to keep peace, to mold us into better people and to minister to others.
And then there is the trash of our lives—those circumstances and relationships we wish never had happened. Even the trash is upcycled:
Wailing becomes dancing (Psalm 30:11)
Tears become joy (Psalm 126:5),
Ashes become beauty,
Despair becomes praise (Isaiah 61:3),
The crooked roads become straight (Luke 3:5),
Darkness becomes light (1 Peter 2:9).
Someone very clever expressed it this way:
Does that mean we sit and wait while God turns our tears of disillusionment to joy? The ashes of disappointment into something beautiful? The crooked road of bad choices into a straight, smooth path?
No, God honors us by allowing us to participate in the upcycling process.
“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord,
for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
— 1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT
Let’s strive to choose the next “best thing” before us, and let God upcycle the results!