As an associate, I would like to put my best foot forward in ministry. Unfortunately though, that doesn’t always happen. Don’t get me wrong, I try, but time constraints sometimes cause me to scramble. I’ve preached sermons for which I wish there were several more days to study. I have led meetings where the agenda was loose. I have stood before the youth group with a lesson that really could have used a better game to kick it off. I have even published a blog or two that could have used another editing pass.
I’m not advocating sloppiness. I firmly believe that we are called to give our best in ministry every day. Unfortunately though, there are times when despite our best efforts, we aren’t as prepared as we would like to be. Yet somehow, God uses even our less-than-stellar efforts to do amazing things.
I was reminded of this again a couple weekends ago when our youth held a yard sale at the church to raise money for their summer mission trips. We filled the entrance and front room of our church with used exercise equipment, worn clothes, kitchen utensils that had seen better days, toys whose owners had outgrown them, and so much more. On the surface, it looked like a pile of junk. It turned out to be almost $2,000 toward our mission expenses, and even more money that will be raised by one local thrift store and another national one from what was left over!
Jesus might have turned this into a parable: “The Kingdom of God is like a yard sale where a pile of unwanted junk raises money for youth to serve others in need.”
God doesn’t waste what we give to honor him. Instead, God has a way of taking the things in our lives that are less than desirable and turning them into something beautiful. That blog with bad grammar supported someone who was going through a similar difficult time. That “unfinished” sermon touched a woman in the back row. That meeting with the loose agenda had room for a conversation we might not otherwise have had. That youth lesson that started with the wrong game helped a young man stay out of trouble.
Again, I’m not advocating half-hearted, sloppy efforts. I’m just saying that when the demands get to be great and you feel like you are offering “junk,” your junk may be someone else’s treasure in the hands of God.