Have you ever thrown something in the trash can that was REALLY valuable? Maybe a wedding ring, car keys, tickets, money…or perhaps a prized piece of fridge art?
If you have, chances are you rolled up your sleeves, grimaced your way through the various textures in hopes you’d find the object of desire.
A number of years ago, I had worked for a faith-based recovery program in Minneapolis called Teen Challenge. The clients in the program lived on site, and at the time, I worked the evening shift.
On one particular evening, one of the ladies threw away her set of false teeth after her meal!
Let me say it again: She threw her false teeth in the trash.
She was laughing and enjoying the company at her table one moment, and the next, she was panick-stricken as she realized she was missing her sparkling white smile!
The giant bags of dinner time trash had been taken out to the dumpsters already. My co-worker and I did what ever good Christian staff would do…put our gloves on, pushed our sleeves up and we went on a search for her teeth! We gagged our way through bag upon bag of spaghetti-sauce smeared contents of 60 residents, and praise The Lord, we finally found her chompers! (Guess that gives new meaning to the phrase, “Trash Talker!”)
When searching for something important, it doesn’t matter if the desired object was in the trash or sitting in pristine condition on the kitchen counter, it never loses its value! Most people would do whatever they could to find their missing treasure even if means getting dirty! (And for me…it takes a lot to motivate me to get dirty!) If my wedding ring was stuck in a puddle of mud, it would still be every bit as valuable to me. It would take some effort, but it could be cleaned off and brought back to its original shine again with a little TLC!
Like the diamond in the dirt, many of us have spent time in places that diamonds just don’t belong!
Our smiles may have been hidden beneath the heavy weight of the trash tossed at us. We may have been caked with the mud of this world, or we may have been splattered with a mess that didn’t even belong to us. Family wounds, sinful attitudes and actions, unhealthy relationships, abuse…there are many kinds of trash that we have been faced with.
But one thing remains the same: treasure is always treasure whether it is in the trash can or in the treasure box!
Who wants to dig through trash? Not me! Even driving past a trash dump is enough to ignite my gag-reflex. I can’t imagine many of us want to spend our days sorting through the things that have been deemed “garbage.”
I’ve heard it said, that “if you sit around the trash long enough, you’re going to begin to smell!” That may be true, but what if the deep wounds of the heart, the pain of the past, held pearls of wisdom that if we sorted through it for a moment would help us to see the diamond in the dirt?
The Treasure in the Trash
The things that we have packed in our hearts may not alwasy be lovely…the memories, the piercing words spoken …the pain of the past. Some of those memories we may never want to think about because of the painful response it invokes in our hearts. It is not necessary to look at the trash, but to look through the trash to find the treasure.
It is not necessary to look at the trash, but to look through the trash to find the treasure.
To find the treasure in the trash, we need God’s perspective. He is the expert at making beauty out of a ashes. He sees the treasure in the ash heap. He sees us in our most vulnerable moments, covered in wounds and trash as a priceless treasure that He came to save.
Trash is nasty. That is the nature of trash. However, what is lovely is the treasure that comes out of it! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That has been true for many when it comes to finding something in a garage sale pile or thrift store. But When it comes to considering pain, hurt, and brokenness a treasure, that is typically not our first response. At least not mine. Thankfully, we have God’s word to anchor our thought process with truth.
Let’s take a look at one of my favorite scriptures, James 1:1-5,
“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The first time I read this portion of scripture, my heart did a belly-flop. “Consider trials pure joy?!?” How in the world am I supposed to do that? You see, at the time I read this passage, I was a young single woman, filled with so much pain and grief that I cried myself to sleep almost every night. I had a heart filled with broken dreams, unfulfilled promises, shame and pain that I just didn’t know what to do with all of the pain in my heart. So I did what I thought a Christian should do, slapped on a smile and shoved that pain deep into to the basement of my soul. And when nobody was around, I cried. Deep, deep cries that only Jesus and my cat knew about (and probably my mom because moms just know those things). I cried for years, and years and years. And it was during that that time of healing, God healed my heart. He taught me how to see the good in the trial. To consider the joy in the trial. To see the beauty in the ashes. The trials themself really stunk. (Trash stinks, remember?) But the testing of my faith during that painful time truly brought about the greatest healing I could’ve imagined. And God used it all, and continues to use it. Thankfully, those tearful years have passed, but it was in the most painful time in my life that my relationship with Jesus grew. Some of the pain was a result of my own doing, some from others. I have forgiven and moved forward, but know that Jesus was with me and not one tear was wasted.
He never wastes a tear.
He always knows where his treasures are. You are His treasure! No matter what you’re going through, no matter what trash is around you, God has His eye on you, my dear!
You are His delight. He would go anywhere to redeem you. No pit is to great, no trial is too big, to amount of pain is too deep for God to heal. He will rescue those who are in need. He will redeem all that was lost. He will restore all that has been broken.
He sees the treasure in the trash, and He will do whatever it takes to bring His beloved to a place of freedom.
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”Isaiah 61:3