Do you occasionally emerge from a situation — a conversation, a class, a conference… an experience — and say or think: Well, that was sure a waste of time or that was a wasted opportunity or that was a waste of money. We do say or think those things, from time to time, don’t we?
What keeps us from saying that was a waste — or — what would keep up from saying or feeling that was a waste?
As I’ve shared with you many times, I write a lot… I write in journals, I write on scraps of paper, in notebooks and post-it notes. I take notes when I’m attending conferences, studies, prayer meetings and even when I’m out shopping I’ll make a note of something I’ve seen or read. For many reasons I’ve done this through the years… I’m not exactly sure when or why I began doing this, but I must say, the practice sure has helped me to pay attention, to keep information I might otherwise forget and, probably more importantly, it helps me to have clear records or accounts of things I’ve heard or read. You know how you hear something and later you attempt to recall it and your recollections are fuzzy or, worse, completely different than what actually occurred or what exactly was said? I think it’s in those times that we might most often say of the event: well, that was a waste of time.
It’s been in those times, where I either didn’t pay attention or didn’t remember accurately what occurred or what was said, that I might tend to consider the time spent to have been a waste.
And then I realize: that event, talk, conversation or whatever wasn’t a waste of time, it was my lack of interest, attention, response or involvement that made it — for me — a waste of time. Or, in other words, I wasted the time. What could have and really should have been for my benefit, education, enjoyment, betterment or encouragement was wasted on me. Sort of like purchasing an expensive item and dropping it out the window of the car rather than taking it home and using it for the purpose intended. What a waste — a waste of time, money and energy — but more, what a waste that the purpose or use of the item will never be accomplished.
I think of the many times the Lord has sent me a trial, a testing of my faith, a good word, a blessing, a sorrow… and I either rejected or questioned or disregarded what was sent my way. A waste…
Several times in the last couple of years in particular, the Lord has allowed or brought about things in my life that have been quite painful, quite grievous, quite heavy and, frankly, some have been quite embarrassing. But, interestingly, in most all of these times, I’ve been able to see or think — in the trial or in the experience — that God in His great wisdom had surely allowed the situation both for my good and His glory. I wish I could say that all the events and experiences had this spiritual growth or influence — how blessed I would be today had I yielded to the Lord instantly or had I not wasted the experience.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
So, in order that my experiences not be wasted, I must determine to pay attention, to yield to the Holy Spirit, to seek the Face of the Lord in every matter, in everything, so that the thing He sent will be accomplished in me.
When there are losses, misunderstandings, offenses, distractions, etc., etc., I see how the experiences can either bring fruit and thus, glory to God — or — they’re wasted me — on us. Indifference, neglect, pride, arrogance, ignorance or whatever wastes the experience. But, interestingly, that doesn’t mean that it returns to God void. When we have losses, scars, pain or shame, it is amazing how God uses even those things to refine us – to mold us – to work in us His purposes. Still I wonder how many blessings we miss, how much joy we miss because we allow ourselves to indulge in wasting experiences.
Worse, how many times to we miss a blessing — and waste an experience — because we listen to the devil and/or are swayed by his cunning. And, truly, we are seeing the deceit, the gashes, the lies and smear marks of the devil all around us. The doubting, the deception, misunderstandings, divisions in homes, friendships and churches, employees being wrongly accused, believers following lies… all these and more are sure evidences of the handiwork of the devil lurking in the shadows and ever prowling to see whom he may devour. And a devourer, he is. A destroyer he is. The accuser of the brethren he is.
O, that we would not miss the marvelous opportunities the Lord is presenting us. O, that we would be found faithful to seek His Face in all things — to read His Word, to pray, to call out to Him in trials, to cry out to Him in the midst of fear, to trust Him in hardship, to lean on Him in times of grief, rejection and temptation — to praise Him in bounty, blessing and to be thankful: even in tragedy. For all His ways are good… O, that we not waste another experience.
Keeping a journal or book of remembrance is a wonderful way to record and then keep for reference the ways and dealings of the Lord in your life… lest your experiences be wasted.