Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Christine Sine on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Christine’s local newspaper is The Seattle Times. Here is Christine Sine on the Good News. She has entitled this entry: Garbage Into Gold.

THE GOOD NEWS

Compost is amazing stuff. Every year I spread buckets full of rich black loamy material onto my garden. Some of it comes from the local nursery, but a growing portion of it comes from our own backyard piles. We use what is called the cool composting method, which takes a little longer, but has the advantage of requiring very little work on my part. All we do is add dead stuff like yard trimmings and garden waste to the bin as they become available. We water it occasionally and wait. We don’t even take the time to turn the pile. The bacteria, worms, bugs, and fungi all go to work, and one day we open the bin and there is this amazing sweet-smelling black gold. This last year we also bought a stackable worm bin for kitchen scraps. We place fresh food scraps covered by shredded paper in the top tray. When this is full we place another tray on top and watch the worms crunch and munch their way from one level to another.

What goes on in our compost pile and worm bin is truly incredible. Last week, when I lifted the lid, I watched thousands of red wriggly worms diligently at work transforming our stinky food waste and garbage into fertilizer. Gone were the moldy leftovers from the fridge and the rotten potatoes that had not survived our hard frosts this year. Gone were the dead corpses of broccoli plants and discarded leaves. Gone was the smell of death and corruption. Like and unlike had blended together into something totally new. In their place was rich, black, sweet-smelling compost ready to be spread on the garden. It is the best fertilizer around, not only because it adds nutrients to the soil, but also because it improves the soil structure so that roots can grow deeper and water is better retained. Healthy, well-composted soil makes it easier to pull weeds and recycles nutrients and organic matter that helps grow trouble-free plants with less water and less problems with pests. And we get an added glow of reduced garbage bills for costly landfills.

As I contemplated this amazing transformation, I could not help but think of its parallels to the ways that God transforms our lives. Often it is the stinky, smelly, unsavory aspects of our past which we would much rather throw out in the garbage and forget about, that God delights in taking hold of to transform into gold, those fertile, sweet smelling foundations of our faith and ministry. The good news of the gospel is that God can take the addictions, failures, and inadequacies of our past and transform them into new strengths that are then used to further God’s dream of a transformed shalom world in which all live together in love, joy, peace and harmony.

Just as I have discovered in the compost pile it is God rather than us who does most of the work too. All we need is to be willing to allow God to worm his way into our hearts and work the magic of resurrection and new life.

The garden is a place in which I constantly encounter the transforming power of God and the hope of the good news of the gospel. As I commented in my recent e-book Gardening with God: “Each time I plant a tiny misshapen seed, bury it in the earth, and watch it sprout, I feel that I am participating in the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus was very aware of this relationship too. As he expressed it, “Unless a seed of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24, TNIV)”

Thank God for compost and worms! Thank God for the healing and transforming power of the gospel that can take the very worst of who we have been and transform us all into the people God intends us to be!

Christine Sine, is an Australian physician, who developed the medical ministry for Mercy Ships. She has worked in Africa, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. She is currently CEO of Mustard Seed Associates raising awareness of issues facing Christians in the future and helping to develop creative responses. Her books include GodSpace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life (Barclay Press 2006) and Living on Purpose: Finding God’s Best for Your Life (Baker Books 2002). Check out her blog at Godspace.


10 Responses to Christine Sine on The Good News

  1. jrwoodward says:

    Your years as a follower of Jesus, a backyard organic gardener coupled with your gift of writing provide a fertile ground for fresh metaphors to spring up, capture our imaginations and call us into kingdom living. It encourages me to continue to “allow God to wiggle his way into my heart and work the magic of resurrection and new life.”

    By the way, getting a taste of your writing here and at your site moved me to purchase your recent e-book “Gardening with God”. It has been hard to put the book down, but I won’t blame you for keeping me awake way past my bedtime! lol. Thanks for sharing your gift with us all.

  2. Sonja says:

    Christine,
    Today i learned something about compost and worms.Before i thought worms were provided as food for the birds…lol.
    The recycle process still amazes me where even through old used paper has wiped the past news away to create a blanc piece..
    You remind me of a new Utopia when ‘God transform our addictions,failures and inadequacies of our past into new strengths used to further Gods dream of a transformed shalom world in which we all live’…happily after after.lol
    Even by knowing that our past started yesterday i find hope through your words that God continues the proces still today.

    This i find powerful from your book:
    “each time I plant a tiny misshapen seed,bury it in the earth,and watch it sprout,i feel that i am participating in the death and resurrection of christ”
    It immediately reminded me of psalm 10:14 and psalm 12:5-6

    During that proces to ‘watch it sprout’ is’nt there a part where you need to protect it?How would you translate that process as the gardener?
    Thanks for the great read.

  3. J.R. says:

    Makes me think of the quote (I believe from Meister Eckert tipping his hat to 1 Corinthians 4): “In Christ, we are the scum of the earth and the crown jewel of creation.”

    Refuse makes way for rich soil where incredibly healthy growth can occur.

    Great post, Christine. Thanks for this metaphor.

  4. Liz says:

    Christine – Thanks for the reminder that the good news of Jesus Christ includes his offer to transform us as individuals. For many years I felt stuck and wondered why I wasn’t continuing to be transformed by God – I went to church, prayed, served, was committed etc. but it seemed like the transformation that I had once experienced had come to a screeching halt somewhere along the line.

    It was through my participation in the emergent conversation that I began to once again experience the transforming power of God. I believe that my long years in the traditional evangelical church had helped me become a person who believed I had it all figured out – I had become prideful about “knowing” and I had created a nice, neat little box (all tied up with a pretty ribbon) that God resided in. The emergent conversation helped me develop some much needed humility about what
    I knew about God. I know that it scares a lot of people when I tell them that what I believe today is in a sort of constant transformation – but I believe that my willingness to live in a place where I hold my beliefs about God loosely has somehow created something in me that makes me transformable. So now, once again, I am experiencing the ongoing transforming power of God and that gives me
    hope.

  5. JR I am glad that you enjoyed the book, I certainly enjoyed writing it – probably needs a sequal already as I continue to learn new lessons.
    Sonja – I am glad this has given you hope. Amazing isn’t it that we can find hope in the transformation of compost?
    Liz – I think that we have all been there – thought that we knew it all and then realized that what we were holding onto was really garbage that God wanted to transform into gold. For me recognizing in the constant creativity that goes on in my garden an aspect of a God who is always the same yet ever changing has allowed me to relax and allow God to continue working to transform me.
    Blessings
    Christine

  6. Scott says:

    Great parable of the transforming power of God in us Christine! Thank you for your thought provoking insights into the glorious good news… Thank you Lord for caring about us in our brokenness and ugliness!

  7. Pingback: The Good News Series « Godspace

  8. Jen says:

    Christine, this is gooood stuff, so refreshing to read. Thank you for sharing. Sonja, I love the AFTER AFTER lol …!! Worship Him … !! JR, The scriptural references are captivating. Liz, what a great testimony, I feel like God is constantly creating in me another testimony.

  9. John Santic says:

    Christine, I really appreciate your way of bringing the good news close to us through your metaphor. I am often amazed at how God’s cosmic work is found in the ordinary process of life on earth. thanks,

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