The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Nothing Wasted

When it comes to words of spiritual wisdom, there’s a fine line between cliché and life-giving truth.

I remember the day, back in March, when my son returned from school for the last time. He was due to sit GCSEs this year, but in two days went from full-on revision mode to the shock of finishing school. We stared at the exercise books strewn across his bedroom floor.

‘Nothing is wasted’, I heard myself say, tentatively.


We began thinking about what he’d learned beyond the narrow, transactional focus on exams: perseverance, resilience, creativity, play … We spoke of how to treasure friendships, and the ordinary days we take for granted …

In the walking retreats I sometimes lead, we visit a copse of hazel trees to reflect on the ancient, sustainable practice of coppicing. The trees are harvested every eight years, and every bit is used; if not for charcoal, then for river-bank defences, fencing, all sorts. Nothing – not a twig – is wasted.

And when sunlight floods back into the newly cleared woodland floor, dormant seeds spring to life which have lain there for years, returning colourful carpets of wild flowers and butterflies. Sometimes, life needs a clearing.

The apostle Paul risked cliché, I’m sure, when he said that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him’. It can be hard to believe for those of us with seemingly wasted years, or studies, or talents, or relationships …

Paul was writing, of course, in the decades following the biggest apparent waste of a life ever. What must it have been like for the disciples in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ death? All their hard work, and their master’s, for … nothing? What was the point, as my son had repeatedly asked about school in those initial, breaking, visceral moments.

But the life Jesus brings is an outpouring, not some benchmark of ‘success’. And it’s worth remembering, we don’t access God’s grace transactionally like an exam, anyway; as if we deserve something to show for the hours we put in. The kingdom of God is richer.

This new term will be a start like no other. Perhaps it’s less about what we learn this year, as much as how. (That’s wisdom, isn’t it?) In our Covid clearings, what if nothing were wasted? – and that on the woodland floor of this coming season, a myriad dormant flowers were preparing to bloom.

Brian Draper
For details about Brian’s work, visit


Brian Draper


  1. Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing. Unless we clear the debris the new life within can not spring to life. I was asked to buy a garden rake today to start clearing a garden, perhaps it’s time to rake over all that God has brought to the surface these last 5 months and let in the light and air and water!

    By Winifred  -  4 Sep 2020
  2. First thought …. I’ve read this before
    Second ” “…… this is Brian Draper
    Third thought… It’ll be worth reading again
    Final paragraph… It most certainly was!! What wonderful images those words conjure up! What hope contained in them!! Thank you , Brian, once again for your wisdom and insight.

    By Jo Kay  -  4 Sep 2020
  3. What a very uplifting and thought-provoking reflection.
    Thank you for it. Brian Draper.
    There is truth in the adage that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and with a background like this, your son – whether or not he is aware of it at this stage – has been given a mighty foundation.
    May he, you and we who have read your words, be blessed as a result.

    By Niall John Andrew Crozier  -  4 Sep 2020
  4. I found this morning’s thoughts really helpful – thank you!

    By Liz Stuart  -  4 Sep 2020
  5. Thank you Brian. I love the concept of nothing ever being wasted in the kingdom. Reminds me of Jesus telling the disciples to pick up after he’d fed the thousands…. “Let nothing be wasted…” Even the apparent mess and chaos can – will – be redeemed.
    Bless you,

    By Dick Venn  -  4 Sep 2020
  6. Thank you, Brian,

    The idea of ‘nothing wasted’ is beautiful. All the left over food gathered into baskets.

    In Christ

    By Chris Fry  -  4 Sep 2020
  7. I am the editor of our monthly church magazine. A parishioner referred this article to me as a possible article to include in our magazine. I’d really like to use it. Would that be possible, please?

    By Linda  -  10 Sep 2020
    • Hi Linda, thanks for your interest in using this article. We’d love for you to share it in your church magazine. We ask that you reference LICC, the author, and if possible with a link to our website.

      Thank you,

      Adnan Khan
      Digital Lead, LICC

      Adnan Khan
      By Adnan Khan Digital Lead, LICC

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