Thursday, October 19, 2017
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It was exciting that first time I landed at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. There's the skyline of Manhattan out the window, and water all around us as the plane touched down on the runway. It was only after I had landed that my host in New York told me how they built LaGuardia Airport. He said, "Oh, they built it on the garbage of New York." Landfill in the bay created a base on which an airport could be built. By the way, on which my airplane just landed.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Recycling Your Garbage."
It's amazing what they can do with garbage, isn't it? They recycle what seems vile and useless and they make it into something useful. That's the very kind of miracle God's been doing for people for a long time, and He wants to do it for you.
This past summer God used the brokenness, the courage of a team of young Native Americans to bring unprecedented numbers of reservation young people to a commitment to Jesus Christ. I've seen it happen summer after summer. Some of the most powerful moments we experienced with our "On Eagles' Wings" team were when some of these young people, representing some 35 different tribes, stood in the middle of Indian villages and shared what they call their Hope Story. They poured out the pain of some horrific backgrounds, and then the incredible hope they have found in Jesus Christ. And kids who listen to no one listened to them, and by the hundreds, they gave themselves publicly to Jesus Christ.
One night, at a reservation outreach, Mary shared her heart-wrenching story of sexual abuse and the drugs and alcohol she used to sedate her pain. It's a story that's always hard for her to tell, but one which powerfully turns young people's hearts to Jesus. After telling her story at a second outreach, Mary came to me and said, "I can't believe how God uses the stuff I've been through to change so many lives."
That's it. Garbage, recycled by God, to help other people find life and find hope. In Genesis 50:20, our word for today from the Word of God, Joseph summarizes the perspective God has given him on the junk of his life. He's been nearly murdered by his brothers as a teenager, he's been sold into slavery, unjustly imprisoned in a foreign land, but ultimately rescued by God and made the assistant Pharaoh of Egypt, the second most powerful man in the world. In that position, his God-directed plans to prepare for a coming famine, save many lives in Egypt and even the lives of the brothers who betrayed him many years before. No betrayal and he never would have been in Egypt. No Egypt and many would have died, possibly even his own family.
So here's Joseph's summary of it all, explained to his brothers: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish...the saving of many lives." See, that's what God wants to do with all the garbage of your life - make it into something that can touch and heal many other lives.
If you'll release all that junk, all that pain to Jesus, He alone can heal it and He alone can redeem it, and He'll make it into a magnet for some other hurting lives. If you harbor it, it's just going to make you hard and bitter and largely useless in a wounded world. But if you surrender all that garbage to Jesus, He can turn it into a beautiful compassion, because you know how it feels. And that will cause many other struggling people to identify with you, to open their hearts to you, to trust you, and perhaps to let you lead them to Jesus. He's the One who was "a man of sorrows," the Bible says, "familiar with suffering," who "took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows." And the Bible says it is "by His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Or in the words of a broken young Indian woman who has experienced His healing, He will "use the things you've been through to change so many lives."