My mom was a master of leftovers. I guess with five kids all spaced about a year apart and, though by no means poor but definitely with a budget to work within, she needed to make sure nothing was wasted. The picked over remains from one meal would be put together with a few new ingredients and become something brand new. A lot of times we didn’t even realize the meal started with leftovers. Even the leftover porridge would become the foundation for some glorious fresh baked bread.
Most impressive though, were the dishes that for one reason or another didn’t turn out but still would be transformed into something, not just edible, but delicious. Like birthday cake. I don’t remember whose birthday it was (we had a lot of them), but the tradition in our house was that the birthday child chose the meal. We could ask for whatever we wanted, including what kind of cake.
For some reason this particular cake didn’t turn out. Either it fell, or got left in the oven a little too long, or was missing a key ingredient because while it tasted like cake you sure couldn’t put candles on it. Most of us would have thrown it away and pulled out the box of cake mix, but not my mom. She cut up the mess into pieces made some pudding and whipped cream and mixed it all into a fancy serving bowl and set birthday trifle in front of us complete with candles. As I recall none of us were disappointed we didn’t have cake. In fact I’m pretty sure birthday trifle was requested at least once after that.
Many of us live with some “if only’s”. If only I hadn’t made that choice. If only I had chosen this path. If only I hadn’t been so foolish or immature or any number of other regrets, guilt, or even sin. But God is a master of taking the mess that we’ve made and, as we submit our lives to him, he creates a beautiful masterpiece from it.
For those who are Jesus followers, no experience is wasted.
All the experiences of our past, whether self-induced or caused by others, even the blatantly sinful things we’ve done, God will use to make us into a dish that he sets before the world to bless and meet the needs of others who are hurting and messed up.
As per Genesis 50:20, what was meant for evil, God uses to bring about his good.