I want everything in my life to have purpose and meaning. Waste makes me squirm. I’d rather not face those times and places in my life that feel pointless. But we’ve all felt this ache, maybe even shame, over things that didn’t gel. We sense the “more” that could be, but it’s too murky to be of any use.
My waste place is my talents. The parts of me that showed so much promise…but never really panned out. These were the places where I’d made sacrifices in an effort to glorify Him. I thought my talents were gifts from Him that I could give back to Him. I ended up catching myself resenting them, lamenting the time and energy I “wasted” pursuing them. Until one word transformed that resentment.
The Hebrew word תהו means waste as in “desolate”, and also means waste as in “pointless”, just like in English.
It’s the word used to describe the Earth just before God spoke light. The creation account tells us the Earth and the waters were already there. So it’s not that there was nothing in the beginning.
It’s just that what was there was a total waste.
The wasteland is the place where God seems distant and silent. Your eyes get tired of squinting for glimpses of His promises. When you hear yourself saying things like “It’s pointless” you’re face to face with the waste place. The place where you feel forsaken…forgotten.
But the word תהו itself tells a very different story. The first character is the ת which represents a mark, as in “x marks the spot”. The central character, the one that often reveals the true essence of a Hebrew word, is the ה. It originally depicted a person standing with arms outstretched and raised. It meant “behold” or “pay attention”. The third character is a ו which represented a tent peg, and meant to secure or stabilize. So this word “waste” could also mean “mark of certain attention”.
The places and times in our lives that feel forsaken bear the mark of God’s attention. It’s not that God doesn’t speak here, it’s just that He hasn’t…yet. It’s not that it’s pointless. It’s just that God’s breath hasn’t infused it with life…yet.
And the Bible begins with proof of this principle. If we go back to that moment just before God speaks creation into being, the Earth is described as תהו, a formless waste. But He’s right there…hovering. Close enough to breathe on the surface of the waters.
What looks like a waste is about to teem with light and life.
So now, whenever any part of my life feels like a waste, I imagine the Spirit of God hovering. Just above the surface. Ready to speak life. His creative nearness has changed everything for me.
What in your life feels wasted? How does knowing that He’s hovering over that change things for you?