The bottles that come back.
I think I've mentioned before that my fear about the great opportunities that the site Stuff Christians Like is opening up is that I'll waste everything. That I won't manage it the right way or maintain it the right way and the whole thing will just fall apart.
When I told my counselor Chuck that a few weeks ago, he said that I should stop worrying. He said that "God doesn't waste anything. He doesn't work that way. He uses everything to His purposes and if you feel like you could waste it that means you feel like you created it and you're not God."
That was a very freeing thing to hear. That in essence gave me permission to enjoy it rather than try to maintain it. To take part in the accidental community that is developing right now instead of trying to hold on to it.
I think that one of the reasons I was worried about wasting things is that it seems like we rarely get to see the way God uses what He calls us to do. Certainly a mission trip has very visible results. You can see that a child was fed, a mother was comforted, a baby was clothed. But often, it feels like God calls us to do something for Him and we do, and it's like a note we put into a bottle and then promptly throw into the ocean of life.
That guy at work He calls us to reach out to switches jobs and we never hear from him again. The neighbor we walk through a divorce moves to another town and disappears. Our prayers for people line the shore like a thousand bottles floating away from us without resolution or closure.
But sometimes they come back to us. Sometimes, God blesses us with the gift of knowing exactly how He used what we do for Him. And that can be a very beautiful thing.
The other night, I shared a story my counselor had told me on my site, 97secondswithgod.com. It was a short story about how God loves when we wrestle with Him because it's impossible to wrestle with someone far away. We feel guilty about it, because we think we should trust instead of wrestle but He sees it as a sign of intimacy.
Here is what a reader said on my site in response:
Jon, my wife has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, and it looks like she's entering the beginning of the end. As you might imagine, I've been wrestling with God quite a bit lately.
When I read your words just now I broke down and cried because the guilt, frustration, fear and anger were instantly replaced by the image of a loving God. Thank you so much.
God is weird. A man I've never met, in Oregon, a state I've never been to, dealing with a disease I've never dealt with, got the bottle he needed. I threw it out into the ocean and God sent it across the country.
That's how He works. It's not my talent or anything I'm doing that matters. What matters is that I throw out the bottles. He wants them. He wants us to throw them out even if we can't begin to imagine how He will use them.
So today, let's throw some bottles.