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Trash Pick up

March 9, 2007

Have you ever been a part of one of those “the next mile is sponsored by” Adopt a Highway type of trash removal events? Oh man, what an experience.

If this is what wondering in the wilderness was like don’t sign me up. I mean did you ever think a mile could be so long or seem so never ending? I realize I am showing what a wimp I am, but it is true. I’m out there thinking I am like the French Legionnaire in one of those black and white movies dragging along with parched lips whispering, “Water, water.” I actually start to see oasis shimmering on the road surface. “Is that a QT up there?”

“Big Gulp, Big Gulp!” is what I scream until someone slaps me and brings me back to my orange vest wearing trash bag dragging existence.

I’m starting to scrawl my last will and testament on the loose garbage I find, certain that I will never get down and back in this forsaken strip of Kansas highway. I am stumbling along thinking for a road in the middle of nowhere that hardly anyone uses it sure attracts a lot of trash.

You know how these things get started don’t you? Someone wants to get someone else involved in a service project, they see the sign while driving one day and wa lah, the next thing you know your fellowship has a sign along the highway that says if it’s a mess these are the people to blame.

It sounded really great until the group tries to get those they intended to do the work together to actually do what the sign says you would do, namely, try to keep the place clean. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great thing to do, as believers we have environmental responsibilities. That is not the problem. The problem comes when one group of people volunteers another.

I have been married long enough to know that is a really bad idea. You have to speak for yourself. If you love something that is great but don’t assume someone else will. If you are passionate about the work than grab others of like mind and get going. Volunteering others for your passion in my experience is a recipe for disaster.

Of those who the project was chosen for about two showed up. The rest were suckers like me, linked in some way to the ministry and now obligated to keep that desolate, dry and hot mile of highway clean.

You know I don’t look that bad in an orange vest, styling I was, but after awhile I was thinking I was a part of a chain gang and the orange was from my jumpsuit. There was so much trash and no matter how much I picked up I always noticed more. Trash simply amazes me. I was working and working and at times I looked back and it seemed like I really wasn’t getting anything done.

In that experience I saw a microcosm of what life is often like. We have a responsibility to be Christ in our world, His hands and feet. We need to look out and see the hurting and the lonely, those who need Christ, but guess what, every time I look out I always see more.

In picking up trash I got discouraged and tired. At a certain point I didn’t really even care. I picked up less and less because what I was doing seemed to be doing less and less good. I think we have to guard against this as followers of Jesus Christ.

If I thought I was going to rid that entire stretch of road of trash I was delusional. I could only do so much. In the end I needed to look at the trash bags filled not what may have been missed.

This is the same with whatever our ministry is in Jesus name. We must look at the bags filled, the lives impacted because there will always be more along the way.

God bless and keep up the good work.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2007 1:16 pm


    I hadn’t visited your blog for a couple of days, came back and thought you’d put your keyboard in retirement. Glad you haven’t. Great word here, and I find it to be so true. Blessing to you, brother. I’m heading to TN. My moms having surgery (Monday and Tuesday). Would appreciate a prayer for her (Alice Overby) and our safety traveling.


  2. March 10, 2007 4:37 pm

    Thanks Ben. I will pray for her and all involved.

    Just a new direction that I thought needed a new space to express itself.

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