God loves to recycle. When we trust in Christ, He takes our lives and redeems them. This not only includes the things we think are worth redeeming, our talents, personalities, and resources, but also those things in our lives that we might consider bad. This may include painful experiences from our past, the effects and consequences from our sinful choices and mistakes we have made, and other things in our lives that may spawn regret.
While we may be ashamed of our past experiences and choices, God often uses them for His kingdom and glory. As Sheila Walsh describes in her book, “It’s Ok Not to Be OK”, “The very things that make you feel disqualified from ever being used by God can be the channels through which He reaches another broken life.”
Here are a few examples of God doing just that in scripture:
1. David – King David was a man “after God’s own heart” and a mighty servant of the Lord. However, David committed adultery and murder at the height of his reign as King. David suffered the consequences within His own family, dealing with dysfunction and discord the rest of His days. However, as David confessed His sin, God used the messy aftermath for good. One example of this is Psalm 51 which David wrote. It has served as a template of repentance and restoration for millions of believers.
2. Matthew – Jesus called Matthew to leave his profession as a tax collector and follow Him. Tax collection was considered at that time to be the worst profession because of widescale corruption. Many viewed it as treason. However, Matthew used his former position for the gospel by inviting other tax collectors to his house for a party where Jesus was present. While many looked down on Matthew’s past profession, Jesus leveraged it for outreach.
3. Paul – Prior to his conversion, Paul was a self-described “blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.” (1 Tim 1:13) His zeal for Judaism was fanatical and he persecuted Christians by throwing them into prison. After coming to faith, the Lord rechanneled Paul’s passion and knowledge as a Pharisee as tools to engage and debate religious leaders in the towns he visited.
Remember, no matter how dark and messy your life was or is, when you turn to God, He will use all of it for His glory. He leaves nothing to waste. Ask the Lord to help you leverage the pain and experiences from your past as a testimony and tool in the lives of others.