That God doesn’t waste things seems fairly obvious, but there are a lot of different places that the human mind can go with this. I have sometimes felt like that perspective puts God into a miserly, pre-ghost-visit Ebeneezer Scrooge. Thinking devotionally, this is not helpful for me. I do not aspire to be that and when I think of God as my father, it doesn’t seem like a helpful image.
Yes, the leftover baskets of bread and fish were given to the poor—but the lavish part of the miracle was that there were leftovers.
So perhaps there are other associations to consider when thinking about God as not wasteful.
A few years back, when I was a missionary with Russian Ministries (now Mission Eurasia), one of my associates (Elaine) and Lorraine and I all got into worm composting, or vermicomposting. I drilled holes in the sides and bottom of a lidded plastic bin. Next step in making the home for worms to live, eat and propogate is to put bedding in. Lorraine and I chose coconut husk mulch; Elaine shredded newspaper. Both mediums needed to be moist.
Then you add worms and bury them. You can order them online or get some from a fellow vermicomposter if you can find one. You don’t really need to bury them much because they will make their way on their own.
Then you just put your non-meat-scrap garbage in, cover it with a bit of the medium and wait. Every day you can add more garbage, cover it with a bit of the medium. I think it becomes a kind of oasis for these worms. Fresh garbage every day—egg shells, banana peels, coffee grounds, grapefruit halves after the fruit is scooped out. I like to think of it as a sort of tropical resort or a cruise ship for worms—all they have to do is eat, reproduce and make the castings, which become the nutrient-rich mulch.
The hardest thing to believe, and even now as I type this I know people will think it’s not true, is that there is no bad smell to this. There really is no garbage smell.
After a few weeks, we would take our bin outside into the sunlight and open the lid. Worms squirm their way to the bottom to get away from the light and you can start to take out the mulch. We had a little pail and got a good amount of the castings. I remember pulling out what looked like a piece of lace one time and realizing that it had once been a cantaloupe rind. When we got to the bottom and there were mostly worms with just a little castings left, we would add a fresh batch of coconut mulch, put the lid back on and start the process all over.
We would put the fresh black mulch at the base of our vegetable plants. Some people make a tea from the castings or pour it on the plants to feed and water them at once. The plants seemed to thrive with this feeding. The food would grow and when we picked it and ate it, the onion tops, tomato stems and other bits would go back into the worm bin.
There is a lot of creativity in not wasting—at least, in God’s style of not wasting—maybe more like a performance artist of the universe than a Dickensian Scrooge figure. When God spoke, the “without form and void” earth began to take on order—light from darkness, waters under the expanse and waters above it, dry land and sea, and the earth, the earth full of vegetation, plants and trees. And a couple of creation days later, I like to think that worms began their composting work.
All this lavish creation waiting and ready for us, created in God’s image, made a little lower than the heavenly beings and fallen short of the glory of God.
So, here’s to the real Ebeneezer and the God above all others, who isn’t stingy with his fallen creatures in desperate need of his grace and help.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)
Note: apologies to Pat, who, based on her latest journal entry, Bugged, has a hard time with spiders, bug, and surely worms.