As one year segues into another, we can't help but pause to ponder the passing of time, our time, this time, the only time we have. And for many of us, there is more to this new year than just remembering to write "2013" on our checks and papers. We sense the passing of time, the acceleration of the years, the sand falling far too quickly through the hourglass of our lives. Nothing is more sobering or more true. Tomorrows rapidly become our todays and slip so quickly into yesterdays, sometimes with hardly any notice. Time is stuck in high gear and there are no brakes to slow it down. Full speed ahead. Hang on for the ride, the ride of your life.
It reminds me of standing in line for an hour and a half to get on a roller coaster ride that lasts a minute and fifteen seconds. Long, tiresome anticipation, a few frantic, exciting seconds, and then we talk about how much fun it was that day at the park. See how fast the future can become the past? It happens every day, every single day.
And here's the worst of it and the subject that's been on my mind - wasted time. Time squandered and lost. Time invested but forfeited. Time given with no return.
I think about my friends who have gone through the trauma of divorce, ending marriages that began with such high hopes. Were those years wasted? "What's left of my life?"
Or what about those who have given so many years to a business or a company, only to be called in and cashed out. "We don't need you anymore."
What about a friendship that you valued, maybe someone you mentored and encouraged in times of crisis, but when you find yourself in need, that friend disappears, just walks away. Was it a waste to care in the first place?
If there is one lesson I have learned about God on my faith journey it is this: God is extremely environmentally friendly. When it comes to our lives, He is really into recycling. Our God will waste nothing, absolutely nothing. He will use and reuse everything about our lives, even the bad stuff, especially the bad stuff.
God takes all the painful pieces of our lost hopes and broken dreams, our useless efforts and rejected love, even our unjust attacks and personal betrayals, and throws them all on His divine compost pile. Unpleasant as that image might seem, it really is good news for us, because God's compost pile is alive with renewing, redeeming, reclaiming power. Somehow God takes the refuse of our wasted time and makes a healing balm and a rich fertilizer that can heal the broken and bring the dead to life again.
And when by His grace we stand again on our own two feet, we will stand wiser and stronger, no longer bitter or vengeful, but tenderhearted, forgiven and forgiving, ready to live and love again. In God's gracious, healing hands, our time is never wasted. It becomes the stuff of life.