Anyone who knew my mother would immediately say that she had a green thumb. She had this marvelous way of making grass always grow greener on our side of the fence. She made the desert bloom with roses, daisies, poppies and more. She could coax beauty out of the stubborn caliche ground of Arizona. I remember many a Sunday when she would go out into the yard and cut the most amazing flowers, then take them to our little church for the worship service. What people did not know was one of my mom’s biggest garden secrets: a big compost pit behind our house into which she deposited grass clippings, piles of dead leaves, even some kitchen scraps. She would take all the smelly stuff that today we would call biodegradable waste, to work magic. Then she would wait, wait for the biochemical metamorphosis to set in, transforming waste and garbage into lush, fertile soil. That was the secret of my mother’s compost pit.
Did you know that God has His own compost pit: God’s Compost Pit of Redemption! The apostle Paul tells the secret of God’s compost pit in Romans 8:28: “We know that God makes all things work together for good for those who love him and who are called according to his purpose.” Paul does not say that God makes “most things”, or even “some things” work together for good; Paul says “all things”. This does not mean that all things that happen are good, for clearly they are not. There is a lot of bad stuff happening in our world. There is injustice, there is disease and a lot of pain and grief, but God knows how to work “all things” for our good. God is going about mysteriously working our spiritual metamorphosis for our eternal good.
But what is the “good” towards which God is working all things “according to his purpose”? Paul tells us in the next verse God’s great purpose for us: “to be conformed to the image of God’s son” (Romans 8:29). The eternal purpose God is working in all things, both good and bad, is that we become more and more like Jesus. As God spoke in the beginning of time, “Let us create humankind in our image” (Genesis 1:26), so God is creative in all of our joys and sorrows to make us in the image of His beloved Son. We will share in His life and glory.
You and I might be able to take the good things in our lives and make something of them, but God knows how to take all of our bad and ugly stuff and work it for His purpose to make us like Jesus.
Once I was sitting in church on Sunday when it was time to pass the offering plate. As I waited for the plate to come to me, I sensed the Spirit of God nudging me and saying: “Tim, it isn’t just your money that I want. And it’s not just your talents and your gifts that I can use. I want you to give to me all of your failures, all the heartbreaks, and yes, all of your sins, and see what I can make of them.” That’s why we call Him “Savior”.
My dear mom had her compost pit into which she put all the stuff that others would throw away, and she worked it for good. So God has His Compost Pit of Redemption where He takes all the garbage of our lives and works it for our eternal good and joy. That is, after all, the Gospel good news!
Name and reflect on the thoughts and feelings today’s reading stirs in you. Take a few moments to talk with God about them.