I stood there with a disgusted look on my face as a fluid consisting of old eggs, roast beef, rotten vegetables, coffee grounds, and what I think was two week old potato salad ran down the front of my Camp Maranatha sweatshirt, and collected in foul smelling puddles at my feet. “I hate the dump,” I murmured to myself as I shook icky gook from my hands and removed my soiled sweatshirt.
The trash bag, which I had been hefting, was one of those 60-gallon monsters that service the camp’s kitchen. It had been ensconced amongst its slimy brethren in the mysterious depths of the camp’s trash trailer for nearly two weeks. From experience I knew that when you are tossing a bag of that size you must muster all of your strength. Then in one smooth motion pull it from its berth and hurl it towards the dumpster. This is the best way to minimize contact with the bag, and gain sufficient momentum to carry it all the way to its destination. This I have learned over the course of many successful dump runs, and I had executed exactly the same maneuver on many occasions without incident. But this time was different, for when I pulled the bag from its slimy dripping nest the jagged end of a broken broom handle caught against it- gutting it like a fish. The bunched muscles in my arms, back, chest, and thighs had already committed to the throw, and with all of my strength I brought the compromised bag up to chest level. At that very moment the coffee filters and spaghetti, which a moment ago had been pressed against the opaque inner lining of the trash bag, spilled forth. The space within the trailer was too cramped and mobility too constricted to avoid being covered with the stuff.
I was in a dark mood as I finished unloading the trash trailer. I couldn’t escape the sickly sweet trash smell, which had soaked into my clothes. I thought about all the people who had so carelessly thrown things into that trash bag, and I secretly blamed them for what had happened. It didn’t make sense, I know, but I did it anyway.
On the drive home the smell emanating from my sweatshirt, which was wadded up on the passenger side floorboards, forced me to roll down my window. As the road climbed it’s way towards town and back to camp the Lord reminded me of Romans 5:8 which says “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”, and also 1st John 2:1-2 which says “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
I thought about how God came down into the trash trailer of this world and willingly and intentionally took my sins upon Himself. The whole stinking mess of my life, which if it were written out on the pages of this blog, would cause me to slink off in shame and never be heard from again. I thought of all those secret shameful things. All the harm I’ve inflicted on others. All those evil thoughts I harbored and acted upon. All of it spilling forth from my life like a ruptured trash bag, and running over Christ. Him stinking of me. Stinking of my sin. Not only my sin however, but the sin of the whole world. The whole landfill! And He didn’t do it because it was His job, or because He had to. No, He did it because He loved us. He loved us even though we were an oozing putrid sack of sin. He didn’t try to minimize contact with us either, but came down among us. He clutched us to Him in a loving embrace, and became trash in our place. What a God we serve!
Lord, I am so unworthy of your sacrifice on the cross, and I am amazed that you love me. I owe you everything, and I offer you the meager sum of who I am. Take me Lord and use me. It is my greatest desire to serve you.