Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finding God in the Garbage

Last night, sitting in my living room surrounded by some seriously faith-filled, inspiring--and just plain fun to be with-- sisters-in-Christ, for women's bible study something left me thinking.

"Where have you had an opportunity to see God's grace at work in your life?" the question asked. Several women shared their own examples, but not me. I had nothing---or so I thought. It wasn't until after everyone left that I went to do a final check of my email that I noticed a message waiting for me. It was from the man to whom I was "freecycling" two of our garbage cans.

Yes, the big, green outdoor kind.

And, yes, in case you wondered, they had already been used for garbage.

I had never freecycled anything before in my life. Due to some village garbage nazibureaucrat, a limit was imposed on the acceptable size of a can. No longer could we use TWO forty-six gallon cans, that was too much. But we could purchase and use as many 32 gallon cans as was necessary. There may not be a single 32 gallon can left in the entire state of Illinois, but the landfills are overflowing with the old 46ers. Being ever environmentally-conscious (ahem), I thought I would give freecycling the old college try, and within 30 milliseconds of my "OFFER" the cans were taken. In fact, I had so many responses to said offer, before I could announce that they were "TAKEN", that I was giving away anything that was shaped like a cylinder and came with a lid.

After responding to the first taker, I began to sift through the remaining responses. I managed to give away a different can with no lid and an old recycling bin to a young man, who picked them up last night. But I was saddened to read an email from a young mother who didn't have enough money to buy new garbage cans and was hoping to get her hands on our throwaways. I almost didn't have the heart to tell her that the only extra can I had left to give away had no lid and the wheels had broken off. I even considered going to buy her a new can to leave out for her to pick up. But, unable to do so, I decided to offer her the last can, which she happily accepted and promised to come pick it up early in the morning after getting off her night shift job.

I spent most of my day out and about and when I returned home, her can was gone, but the original "good" garbage cans remained. The fellow who was to pick them up the night before hadn't taken them. I sent him a quick email. He apologized and promised he'd be back that night to get them. Well, that night--bible study night--came and went, but the cans were still here.

I had forgotten all about him, the young mother and the cans, until I read his message in my inbox:

"I guess I'm never going to make it out your way after all," he wrote, "please give them to someone else who needs them."

In a flash, I pulled that young mother's message out of my delete bin and sent her a note asking if she might be interested in the two other cans that were here when she picked up the dilapidated one. She responded almost instantly. She had been writing me a thank you note for my dumpy old garbage can (my words, not hers) and how grateful she was for it when she received my message. And yes, she would be thrilled to have them. But the soonest she could get them would be Thursday and did I mind.

Did I mind? Not a bit, I thought. Each time between now and Thursday when I catch a glimpse of those cans, my eyes will turn upward and I will thank her for the reminder that God's grace is found everywhere--even in the most unlikely form of a garbage can.


scmom (Barbara) said...

Great story, Jane. Yes, God can even be in the garbage cans -- 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'Mt. 25:40

Laura said...

I'm so happy with the ending to this story :) and yay! for recycling!!!

Michelle said...

Jane, thanks for sharing your story. Isn't it amazing how creative God is? I've been uplifted so many times thru freecycle: sometimes through receiving and more often through the giving.

Anne said...

All I could think of "it is better to give than to receive". And yet, look how much you received by giving! Thank you for such a beautiful story and I will offer up a prayer for that dear soul who needs those garbage cans.

Many blessings,

Ginny said...

OH-neat story! I love it.

Easter A. said...

Love that story, Jane!!!!

A wonderful weekend ahead of you@