As I was in the shower one day last week, Henry, my five year old, poked his head around the door. “Mommy? Where’s that empty box of cereal?”
“I threw it away!” I said. “It’s in the dumpster now!”
I couldn’t see his face from behind the shower curtain but I could hear the devastation in his voice as he wailed, “But mooooom! I WAS SAVING THAT!”
I should have known. This is the kid who squirrels away empty containers from our recycling bin, who gathers discarded boxes and stores them for later use in our guest room closet. I once opened said closet and was nearly buried under an avalanche of trash.
But where I see trash, Henry sees potential. He uses these treasures to make new creations: cars and robots and time machines and abstract collages.
What’s in your closet?
In much the same way, I believe we all have our own closets full of junk. We throw our failures in there, our misadventures, our long forgotten dreams, our talents grown dusty from disuse, our old hurts, and the labels we’ve claimed and discarded. We keep all of this behind closed doors, preferring not to have this mess in our plain sight.
But maybe God sees what’s in our closets with a different set of eyes. We throw something in there thinking, “I have no use for this,” and God bends down to pick it up. He holds it up to the light and declares “This is going to come in handy someday.”
We can’t see the big picture the way God does. He alone knows the potential in each of us, all the ways big and small the contents of our closets can further his kingdom.
From our trash to his treasure
Growing up as a missionary kid, bouncing between France and California, I felt deeply the pain of not fitting in, of having nowhere to belong. I went to college, got married, had kids, and tried to leave all those belonging hurts behind. But God saw the potential in my past pain. He saved it out of the trash bin and said, “Let’s use this.”
Now, in my role as a youth ministry leader and as coordinator for our MOPS group, I get the chance to channel all of my longing to belong into creating a space where others can belong. And in so doing, I’m blessed by the redemptive work of God as he creates something new from the old junk in my closet.
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