What a Waste! (When Little Mistakes Bring Big Feelings)

In the darkness of early morning, I lie on the couch, breathing deeply and trying to relax. A few minutes earlier I had bolted out of bed after waking up to shooting pain in my foot. But getting up so quickly meant I felt nauseous and dizzy by the time I got downstairs. Now, lying horizontal in the living-room, I can hear my husband shuffling around the kitchen, preparing a French press of coffee for us to share.

“Oh, Babe!” he says. “Your bread!” Realization dawns on me that there are still two loaves of sourdough bread “rising” in the oven…loaves I was supposed to bake before I went to bed last night. What a mess! By the time this morning rolled around, the dough had rolled right over the lips of those pans, making a sticky mess.

That spoiled dough is enough to send me over the edge too. Tears come, and I feel like such a failure. How can a simple mistake be this crushing? How can an understandable oversight bring such a disproportional amount of shame? But it’s not really about the dough. The dough is just a tangible reminder of the load I’ve been carrying this week, physically and mentally — a load I can’t carry any longer.

Tears dried, a fresh cup of coffee in hand, I sit down a few minutes later and turn to my Bible reading for the day. I read about Jesus carrying a much heavier weight than I am. He had just received news that His cousin John had been beheaded, and He climbed into a boat in search of a deserted spot. But instead of the solitude He was seeking, He met with a needy crowd when He landed on the other side of the lake.

Did He send them away? (I know I would have.) No. That clamouring crowd aroused His compassion, and scripture tells us that He healed their sick. Later, after the time for the evening meal had already passed and His disciples thought it was high time for the crowd to be dismissed, Jesus said, “They don’t need to go away.” And He fed them as well, more than five thousand of them.

Then my Bible reading takes me to Isaiah 55 where I am reminded that God’s ways and thoughts are not like mine and that His word comes down from heaven like the rain and snow do, guaranteeing seed for sowing and bread for eating. “Not my bread,” I think to myself. That lump of useless dough sitting in my compost bin is just a waste now. So much for the work that went into it. And not just my own efforts, but the work of nature, the work of the farmer, the work of God that I threw away.

“There is grace for that too,” a voice whispers in my heart. There is grace for that too? Yes! Of course there is. How silly of me to think that God’s grace, that is greater than all my sin, can’t extend to something so trivial. What about the twelve baskets of leftovers after Jesus miraculously fed the crowd? That night the disciples collected one basketful of garbage each. But was it really garbage? Or was it tangible proof of God’s generosity? His compassion and rich pardon as Isaiah tells us.

Sometimes there is nothing I want more than to send my nagging neediness away, but Jesus says it doesn’t need to go away. He has ways and means and thoughts beyond what I can see or understand or think. He has grace for all of those needs — big and small. And His grace is not an eye for an eye sort of exchange. It’s not a neat and tidy tally sheet that has me waiting, worrying, wondering until the final calculation. No! There are twelve basketfuls that tip the scale beyond any shadow of a doubt.

There is grace, overflowing grace, for whatever you are facing today too, whatever it is that’s got you kicking yourself, whatever you can’t seem to let go of. We all know it’s not just big mistakes that bring big feelings. Even when little mistakes bring big feelings, turn to the Lord. He will have compassion! He can even transform whatever feels wasted into a reminder of His rich love and great grace for you.

This article was originally posted at Well Christian Woman.

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