Since we were first married, Annette and I have been recycling our kitchen and garden waste and making compost. I grew up in a composting family and it was a practice that we have kept in our family as well.
Compost is a marvellous soil enricher and provides nutrients and humus to help plants thrive. We have used compost as the main source of nutrients in our vegetable and flower gardens and it hasn’t cost us anything. We also compost because we want to reduce the amount of waste that we put into landfill. Waste management is a significant issue in society and there is a need for significant waste reduction. In fact, if everyone composted their kitchen and garden waste, landfill could be reduced significantly. It is suggested that up to 50% of waste sent to landfill is food waste.
Composting is an amazing process. What we would consider waste is transformed by worms and micro organisms into wonderful nutrient rich soil. It just takes a little bit of time, oxygen and moisture.
Our spiritual lives also need composting. We’ve all had negative experiences in our lives that are the result of poor choices on our own part and sometimes from no fault of our own. Throughout our lives we experience heartbreak, disappointment, failed dreams and missed opportunities. These things that we would consider a waste or a write-off can be redeemed by God and turned into good.
We know the saying “s..t happens” well did you know that “compost happens” – God uses everything, even the moments of our lives that we would call a waste. God transforms what we might consider worthless rubbish and uses it to bring purpose and hope.
Spiritual composting is all about redemption. Redemption is about making something good from what might be considered a failure or a flaw. God redeems those aspects of our life that we might want to forget and use them for our growth and His glory.
Pierre Bergeron says, “Spiritual composting allows the Holy Spirit to transform the less desirable aspects of our life and personality by exposing them to the light of Christ. By practicing the discipline of spiritual composting, the Holy Spirit can transform our weaknesses into rich spiritual humus from which can grow a powerful and fruitful ministry.”
There are many examples from scripture where God has redeemed a seemingly “rubbish” situation and brought about good. Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, Joseph was sold into slavery, David sent to fight the giant, Gideon going into battle completely outnumbered – the list goes on and on. Consider also the disciples that Jesus chose – many who were considered to be worthless in society- yet Jesus redeemed them and through them God changed the world.
Consider this reflection by Veronika Sparrow.
When I compost, it is a joy to see the ways that God’s creation obeys Him, managing and cycling ‘waste’ and decay into new life. These disdained scraps become the essential tool of our Christian work: the means to feed the hungry. What a beautiful symbol compost is- to take the junk, the unwanted, the ‘trash’ and have it become a service in glory! Imagine if we could ‘compost’ our negative experiences this easily, if we allowed God to transform our sins and tragedies into fertile beauty! My compost bin is nature’s icon to remind me of Christ’s resurrection, that through death we are born again.
Scripture Readings for Reflection
And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers[c] here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!
Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. 15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.
16 So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. 18 Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.
19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
Reflection from the Gardener’s Bible
Let us take all the ugliness of life, things beyond the garden – deaths and tragic losses; financial devastations; misunderstandings or betrayals in friendships, partnerships and marriage; calamities from fire, storm or drought; years smeared with addiction – and all of the negative emotion created as a consequence, and lump it all in a category labelled “manure.” The stench from these events that permeated our lives was awful; the cleanup was miserable, and as in Paul’s case of imprisonment (Php 1:13) grossly unjust. But can we dare to consider the whole lot as simply a pile of manure?
Composting gives us a picture of God’s deliverance. He takes the muck and the mire of our lives and uses it to produce something good and purposeful (Rom 8:28), just as the object of composting is to make use of all refuse. Because we love him, God will use even what was intended for our harm toward a good productive result. In our troubles we may be broken hearted and crushed in spirit, but the Lord hears our cries and delivers us from trouble. Indeed, the more manure added to the compost pile, the more enriching and beneficial the finished material will be for the garden.
Songs about God’s Redeeming Work in Spiritual Composting
You Say – Lauren Daigle
You are More – Tenth Avenue North
Cry out to Jesus – Third Day
Graves into Gardens – Elevation Worship
Another in the Fire – Hillsong United
Prayer for a New Compost Pile – Veronika Sparrow
King of Heaven and Earth, we thank You for this icon,
For the reminder that even the dirt beneath our feet shows the sign of Your resurrection,
And that even the smallest creature is loved by You.
Father, bless these worms that proclaim Your glory,
The bacteria, fungus, and insects that do Your work.
Bless the soil they create, that it may nourish Your people
And restore Your earth that we have degraded by our sin.
Teach our hearts also to be fertile soil for Your Word,
And bless us with the abundance of Your love,
With fruit of the earth, seasonable weather, and great love for each other.