Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Garbage Man

Yesterday, the garbage man came. He’s not the kind of garbage man you’re probably picturing - a big guy driving a giant noisy truck at six in the morning. Nope, this garbage man is a little old man who comes on foot, dressed in rag-tag clothing. He is not paid and he has no truck. In fact the only thing he has with him as he goes from garbage can to garbage can up and down the street is a sack where he stores all the treasures he finds digging through my garbage.

I remember when I lived in the bush and my “garbage” was a plastic grocery bag suspended from the ceiling by string so as to keep out the creepy-crawleys. Now I am notorious for throwing away stuff - partially because my life is so mobile that I can’t afford to collect anything and partially because I just don’t like my life cluttered up with junk. My mom says I make trash. But even I must admit that there just isn’t much trash to be made in the bush bush, so the garbage was mostly empty. Town was an hours’ drive away, so saving became a lifestyle. I scraped the bottom of jars, burned candles down to the tip, reused any and all plastic containers, and threw out only the few things I really couldn’t find any use for. But whenever the girls from the children’s home where I lived came over to my house they would ask to look through my garbage. I would watch as they dug through used tissues and papers, old batteries and empty tubes of toothpaste and walk away with all kinds of stuff I had thrown out, my heart breaking with this thought: How can it be that the bare minimum of my trash could become these children’s treasures? And so every time the garbage man comes and I see him digging through banana peels, old cans, empty bottles, and smelly sacks, I remember. And I just want to cry.

I suppose I should end this post with some kind of a commentary on how we American’s waste so much or a call for people to use less, but instead I want to say this: do more with what you have. Your time, your money, your belongings, your talents, your life.

That is after all why I got into missions in the first place, not because so much of the world has so little but because I have been given so much. As it says in Luke 12:48: “To whom much has been given, much will be required.” Every time I see the garbage man, I get a little glimpse of God’s broken heart and I think what more can I do? What more can I give? What more can I say - for this continent, for the brokenhearted, for the destitute, the lonely, the forgotten, the hungry, the orphans, the widows, for those separated forever from the eternal love of the Father? What more can I do?

On David Livingstone’s grave in Westminster Abbey are written his final prayer for Africa,

“May heaven's rich blessing come down
On everyone, American, English or Turk
Who will help to heal this open sore of the world."

Yes, indeed.

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