Photo: The Recorder
“I was walking into town in my white bucks. A man with a gun, he said, hands up. I tried to get away but too slow. He got me and took all of my dough. I heard him shout as he cut out, Well you ain’t lost nothin’. What are you cryin’ about? Your cash ain’t nothin’ but trash.” – Recorded by: The Clovers – 1954, Composer: Jesse Stone
Take my apologies now if you happen to be chowing down while catching up on blogs.
Look at the mounds. Nothing pretty and tidy to see here. The photo above is a representation of the wake of hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Literally, from one house damaged by the flooding waters from Harvey. Black mold is the extreme enemy. It grows, festers and taunts property owners after the water recedes. Many homes will undergo complete renovations; some will be demolished. This house had up to six feet of water in it. EVERYTHING must go.
Have you been there? Maybe for you it was a tragic fire, tornado, pluming issue with pipes, or a basement flood after torrential rains. In my case, it was October 13, 2006 in Buffalo, NY. It was an October surprise, a fury of a blizzard wiped out trees, roofs, carports, sheds , power lines and basements, including mine. The beautiful autumn leaves were striking but couldn’t hold the massive weight of the lake effect snow. The near-hurricane force winds did their job. Off came the branches, complete with tree trunks and telephone poles splitting. Afterwards, it looked like a snow bomb exploded leaving destruction everywhere you turned. Quickly, the snow melted furiously with flooding in the streets, rivers, the Erie Canal and basements. I had classic vinyl albums carefully stored in boxes in my basement closet that would make a record collector pant like a thirsty Labrador. Yes, you guessed it, out to the curb many of them went, but some survived. In the end, I had a pile of trash and timber much like the Harvey heap above. Afterthoughts containing the words, “garage sale” rolled mentally in rotation, like a carousel. Like what happened in Buffalo, the fine sanitation workers of the city of Houston are doing all they can to load-up all the waste and debris as quickly as possible.
Fast forward to my new life in Carrollton, Texas, not too far from a place many grudgingly call, “Mount Lewisville.” Lewisville is our neighboring north Dallas suburb. Right on the border is the city dump. I had been gone from the area for five years. When I moved back, I was shocked to find a…well, a….okay, I’ll say it, a mini-mountain. This area of the city had grown so much, so fast, the city dump also had mounted up and had to expand. Driving by it can be unpleasant, even with the windows rolled up. In fact, I often cough going by. It’s where you find perched vultures, along with an air force of grackles flying in circles just waiting for the next caravan of dump-trucks to arrive for an afternoon feeding frenzy. Biblically speaking, you might say it’s where the worm doesn’t die. You can have your eyes closed and know for certain you’re close to Mount Lewisville. (I’m sure my fellow Lewisville citizens call it, Mount Carrollton.)
Looking at the videos of interviews of Houstonians, I am reminded of the heartbreak which goes unseen for the cameras. The loss is overwhelming. Among the heap, personal family items, historic irreplaceables, priceless finds now headed for the dump. Even so, each one interviewed will admit that life is far more precious. For those who were blessed to still have their loved ones survive the storm, they know full well the highest of value. After all, the pile is just that…a pile, a mound of damaged worthless stuff ready to be burned and buried.
It’s times like these I recall the garbage I collected in my mind and heart that should be burned and buried. Do you know what I mean? Stuff, trash, worthless piles of garbage I have fed on that is against God’s design for my life. He had mounds of blessings for me, even pointed me in the right direction, while I got distracted by the trinkets of the barterer along the wayside of Alan. I bought these things of no value and placed them in the secret storage of the mind which reaches my heart. Like the filth on the curb after irreversible damage occurs, rats, insects and buzzards come to feed, too close to where I should be living in God’s shelter. They are to be fought-off daily.
“…I count all things but (as) loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but (as) dung, that I may win Christ.” – Paul, Philippians 3:8 (KJV)
(Although the context is the topic of how self-righteousness is to be viewed as a filthy rag, the same principle applies to fleshly treasures.)
Please, forgive me if what I am about to write disturbs you. Just hear me out. Here goes. God, through Jesus, has volunteered to be my garbage collector. No other god followed can come close to wearing the sanitation worker’s uniform. Because of what Jesus volunteered to do for me on the cross, paying heavily the hell I deserve, He now is my trash removal technician that I am unable and powerless to be. As I stand among the sludge, holding tightly to the black mold I have collected for myself as if it were treasure, if I stand aside, He drags the crap out of my house tossing it all in His personal dump-truck. He arrives at the gates of Mount Hell and there it is burned away, keeping the mounds of sins off my record in the eternal courts. No recycling here.
We all have the black mold growing in our hearts like a cancer on a mission. The scripture says, if we allow Him and believe that He will, in righteousness and humility, He will “wash it (us) whiter than snow.” – Psalms 51:7
It’s all something I will remember this week as I roll the garbage bin out to the curb, its contents never to be seen again. As I watch the sanitation truck load it up, crushing it as it drives down the street, I will once again have more fuel for the race.
“But now that you have God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” – Paul, Galatians 4:9