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By Randall A. Bach

There is an old Red Foley song that I recall being sung in church when I was a boy. Frankly, it may be more appropriate to say the song was wailed. It was mournful, decrying years of being away from or in rebellion against God. The words to the chorus are

Wasted years, wasted years, oh, how foolish
As you walk on in darkness and fear. Turn around, turn around, love is calling, Keeps calling you from a life of wasted years.*

What do you do about wasted years? “How could any good come of this mess?” we may wonder as we read Romans 8:28 (NLT): “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (We too often forget about the conditional last part of that verse.) Is it possible that the Lord could redemptively use those years of sinful choices for His glory, even though they look like a total loss?

RELATED: “From Kingpin to Son of the King“

Perhaps your earlier years, even if not filled with bad experiences, seem useless in terms of what you are doing today. “If I knew then what I know today, I would not have spent so much time spinning my wheels!”

Such is life, full of ups and downs, learning and growing, wheel-spinning, overcoming and outliving, and choosing to look forward instead of dwelling on the past. Consider the fact that Jesus’ public ministry did not begin until he was thirty years old. We know about His birth and we know about His experience in the temple at age twelve when he had gotten separated from the traveling family entourage. What about from age twelve to age thirty? Evidently those years were not noteworthy enough to be detailed in Scripture. But we can make a pretty good guess about how Jesus spent His time. Joseph, His father, was a carpenter. I believe Jesus became a carpenter apprentice. What on earth does that have to do with being a Messiah? Jesus learned personal discipline. He learned about working under authority, the steps involved in developing a craft, workmanship, how to deal with various personalities, how to listen to people, the cost of doing business, and how to not let whispers about His family (and His gossiped illegitimacy) drag Him down. Those early years, perhaps appearing to lack noteworthiness, were probably very instrumental in preparing Jesus for His ultimate mission.

When counseling or encouraging someone struggling to overcome wasted years, I have remarked, “You know, I have a simple faith that in God’s economy nothing goes to waste. Only He can take the ugliest and most painful chapters and turn them into gain for His glory. Could you join me in taking that leap of faith and in so doing give what seems wasted to Him, entrust it to Him, and focus on what He is doing in and through you now? You have asked Him to forgive you. He has. He is all about your future.”

Do you labor over anything wasted? Why not wrap it up in a package, so to speak, and give it to the Lord? Trust Him to do what He knows is best while partnering with Him about today and the future. God delights in receiving such packages. It worked for Nelson Vargas. It can work for you.

About The Author

Randall Bach
President of Open Bible Churches

Randall Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 40 years and call it “Our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches.