FIRST-PERSON: The scraps of our lives

By David Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon on May 30, 2018

EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- Not many of us will ever experience having a custom-made suit or garment prepared for us, but for those who make that investment, a handmade suit could cost $5,000 or more.

The fabric itself is extremely valuable. No tailor approaches the cutting table with the intent to make a mistake and waste a valuable piece of cloth with a slip of the shears. But it happens. Tailors are human.

And we are too! We don't get up any morning of the week and say, "I'm going to intentionally waste the hours or days or weeks that are valuable in God's sight by sinning or making poor choices." But it happens.

Christians are humans. We wish we could cut the pattern for our life so carefully that there were never any mistakes -- or scraps -- but we can't.

Consider King David. For days or even weeks he planned to take Uriah's wife, then he ultimately had her loyal husband killed. For nearly a year he concealed his sin until he was confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 11-12). A year consigned to the scrap pile -- by his own choosing. And we wonder, "How could David have done such a thing, being 'a man after God's own heart'?"

But were David's sins much different from our own? More serious, more widely known, more premeditated? Yes, on all counts. Yet we still have our own personal scrap pile -- cuts in the cloth we wish we could do over. And it's not just sins. It's honest mistakes, errors in judgment, bad choices and decisions, broken dreams; just because they're not actual sins doesn't mean those parts of our life don't end up in the scrap pile.

The mistake we make is thinking that those scraps don't have value.

What is the most valuable fabric in the world? It could possibly be silk or cashmere. It could be cloth spun from strands of solid gold and still not be as valuable as a human life. If a tailor saves the scraps of silk and other fine fabrics because of their value, how much more valuable are the "scraps" of our lives?

God created us for a purpose; therefore every part of our life has value in His sight -- even the times we wish we could do over.

If you read Psalm 51 -- David's psalm of repentance and confession following his disastrous episode with Bathsheba and Uriah -- you will be encouraged by the cry of his heart: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (verse 10). If you pray that psalm, you are praying words that were forged on the anvil of David's guilt and remorse over his choices. From that experience came words of instruction and encouragement for us today -- illustrating how even our mistakes can serve a purpose in God's hands.

In another psalm by David, Psalm 32, he recounts how miserable his life became when he concealed his sin from God, and how blessed it became when he made things right. What about the apostle Paul who spent months persecuting Christians and then became the apostle of grace? Or King Solomon who recorded his own fruitless search for meaning apart from God in Ecclesiastes saving us from vain paths in life? Or Peter who ultimately identified with Christ as a martyr after being ashamed to identify with Him as a disciple?

And what about the mistakes and choices you and I have made -- the scraps of our fabric that we think are lost forever?

If we aren't to throw our scraps away, what should we do with them? If we have sinned, we need to repent. If we are discouraged over a foolish mistake or a broken dream, we need to revive. In either case, the scrap we thought represented a wasted moment in our life will become something God can use to make us wiser, more disciplined and more appreciative of His grace, mercy and forgiveness -- and make us more willing to extend the same to others (Ephesians 4:32).

Pick up the pieces of your life and save your scraps for Him; the garment He fashions will be more beautiful than you can imagine.

This Convention serves our culturally diverse congregations as we fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.