Monday, April 21, 2008

God in the Dump

Imagine yourself in the middle of a huge landfill on a scorching day in late July in Texas. Sounds like Hell, doesn't it? It was the hottest, grossest, smelliest place I have ever been. Not a likely place for an epiphany, a surprising encounter with God. I was leading a group of adults on a mission trip to Arlington. The mission leaders tried to use each one of us according to our spiritual gifts and natural talents, so Scott and I were sent to the dump with a 28 foot panel truck filled to the door with worthless household junk, stuff so bad we could not even give it away.

We raised the door, trying not to breathe in the stench too deeply and, already swatting at the flies, we began to chuck the junk into the dump. We threw off a broken kitchen table and the wreckage of an old water bed. Bent up, broken storm windows and kitchen cannisters for flour and sugar and whatever. Pieces of drawers and cabinets, a nasty, moldy old couch with bugs in it. Lots of broken furniture, cracked mirrors, and boxes of clothes and magazines ruined and rotted out from water damage. Nasty stuff. Two or three times I nearly gagged from the horrid smell of that place.

We were about half done when it hit me. Out of nowhere came a flash of insight that I know now must have come from the Spirit of God. "Everything I have is coming out here. Every single possession of mine is eventually going to end up in a place just like this. Even the stuff I am still making payments on is sooner or later headed for the dump." The gravity of that thought penetrated deeper than the rancid odor. Me and my stuff - a dump, a junkyard, and a six foot hole in the ground. When all is said and done, that's the physical reality facing me, facing us all.

Scott and I talked about it on the way back. There better be more to our lives than just the stuff we accumulate, something more to leave behind besides just food for worms.

Since that hot day in Texas my world looks a little different. My appetite for acquiring has been spoiled. My taste for the trappings of wealth is not nearly so ravenous. You see, I know where it's going. I've seen the end of the line. Maybe we should all take a ride to the dump.

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