Americans are renowned for being a wasteful people. We are an instant society with a throw-away reflex. We have everything from instant cocoa to movies-on-demand to voice controlled texts. We throw away whatever we can’t use now. This noncommittal conditioning through material items has trickled down to affect our moral character. As a people we avoid anything that requires longterm effort: marriages after the honeymoon, unplanned children, children with unplanned needs, elderly family members, pets that are too much work, school assignments that require more than one step to be completed, even our presence on a global level is dictated by the level of convenience it affords.
In his book Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper suggests that an all-about-me life is a wasted life. When we determine our next decision or action based on how much it will inconvenience our personal bubble space we are affirming the hypothesis that it is all about us. Let’s see if we cannot salvage our lives so far and realign our life to the compass of God’s design.
Reduce: Think about your regrets. “I shouldn’t have eaten that extra helping of dessert.” “I should have stopped to help that homeless guy.” “I wish I had gone walking with my neighbor when she asked me too. Perhaps she had something on her heart to talk about.” “I wish I hadn’t lost my temper with my kids.” I am sure you have your list of regrets. What can you do today to reduce the number of regrets on your list tomorrow? Can you spend more time in prayer and Bible-reading? When faced with a decision that forces you to choose between yourself and someone else, go with the other person.
Reuse: If something works, reuse it. If there is a relationship in your life that is helping you grow, cultivate it. It might take a lot of work and you might feel like your heart is on the line because you’re not sure where it’s going to go – but if it causes you to grow in your walk with God and grow as a person, don’t give up. If you have a schedule that helps you stay disciplined in healthy living and spiritual improvement, keep at it. If you are reading a book for school that has too much scenic description but your teacher wants you to finish it, keep reading! Like I said, our human nature shies away from committment and gets bored with long-term; when you have the opportunity to work at something, carry on! Don’t give up or let go.
Recycle: God is gracious and merciful in how He is willing and able to take our mistakes, regrets, hurts and fears and turn them into beautiful vessels that can be used for His glory – if we will only allow Him to do so. Just as we are willing to take our used glass, paper, and aluminum to be cleaned and molded into something new, we should be willing to let go of the baggage from the past and be excited to see what God will do with it. He will definitely make us stronger and wiser in heart; He may use us to minister to other people who are a few steps behind us. But first we need to set out that recycling bin and fill it up with what we don’t need to hold on to.
You may not be able to change an entire societal mindset, but you can change your own worldview. Remember that you have nothing to do with your existence on this tiny planet in this great universe. A life that is in pursuit of the God who placed you here is anything but a wasted life. Start today.