4 Observations from Piles of Trash

The smell of decay and death that flooded these homes slowly begins to fade. As the rivers have returned to the confinement of their banks and people have begun the marathon labor of restoring their homes, the remains of death line the roads. Putrid heaps of near toxic, mold-covered trash block the view of once beautifully simple homes.

FullSizeRender (2)Like many in my community, I have been working hard to help people remove waste from their home. Tearing out sheetrock, flooring, destroyed treasure, appliances, etc… It has been a grueling process. I had just completed yet another session of spraying someone else’s home with mold remediation when I was overcome by the view of the street. The devastation is so great that you can smell the decay from inside the car. I was paralyzed as the realization struck me: this is not trash on the side of the road, this is lives and history wiped out in a moment. Those carpets and walls are years spent with children and family. Those piles of trash are someone’s hopes buried inside a tomb of river water. As I struggle to understand and process such tremendous devastation I have been struck by a few observations:

  1. The value of life is not in “things.”

These heaps of destroyed dreams offer an image of life that cannot be easily dismissed. We invest our lives and money in material goods, building homes and putting our monetary resources into “things” that can be easily stripped from us in a moment.  It’s important to note, that the value is not actually in the “things.” The value of this life is not something that can be so easily destroyed. These things only have value because they represent experiences, moments, memories, and relationships. Those things cannot be stripped from you. Cling to those intangible realities of life.

  1. Restoration/ Redemption is painful

When tearing someone’s life apart in order to restore, the old must be torn (literally) from the framework of the home, in order to clean and redeem the home. Life is no different. Our lives are flooded with death and decay because of sin. Born into a world of death, we have only one hope. Jesus offers that hope. When we recognize our sin, admit that we have rejected life, and trust in Him to redeem our souls; then He works in our hearts and redeems. There is much work to be done in the life of a redeemed sinner. The old must be torn away. This process is hard and sometimes painful. It is painful because it is removing a part of who you are. Indeed, it is tearing down what you once thought wonderful, in favor of a potential of who you could be. But having a home that is livable is worth it. Redemption is worth it.

  1. You need help.

Many people where I live did not have insurance. More do not have true community. It has been beautiful to watch as the church community in my area has dropped the pretense and labored to serve the community. Churches in my town have lists of homes that are being worked through. As people have called, the church has answered! When disaster hits, we need each other. When the rivers rise and destroy, we need help. Often overlooked, this simple truth is a key tenant of Christianity. The Christian life is best lived in community together. We need brothers and sisters to help us identify what is waste and what is not. We need the help of Christian community to carry out demolition and drag piles of waste to the curb. We need each other.

  1. To be restored, your home will have to be gutted first.

The work of restoration begins when the house has been fully gutted and all the inner workings of the house have been completely exposed. So it is with life. In order for restoration and redemption to take place, transparency is necessary. You must be willing to be laid bare before the world. Our inner life must be completely stripped and the Spirit of God given rule over the reconstruction work of the soul.

Though I weep for those who have lost everything and yet I know there is hope. I know restoration of homes can and will bring life from death. The process is long and hard. Many will suffer depression and despair as their labor and life have been razed to the ground. Yet, as time progresses and the people of God serve and love their neighbors, life will be brought from death. Homes will be restored, memories will remain, and life will begin anew. This is the hope. Life springs up out of death. Redemption from the flood.

One thought on “4 Observations from Piles of Trash”

  1. Good article, good analogy.

    Old things pass away and behold, all things become new.

    That is God’s word and God’s work.

    I didn’t have much, I had lost all my “stuff” twice before. What hurts, what I hate losing this time was every photo I owned of my daughters, from the moment my first was born up to the day or two before God called her home. Yeah, there were just “things” but they can never be replaced. Photos of the first date with my precious wife, which was the only “date” we had, at the Fort Worth Texas zoo. Photos of God’s beautiful creations all up and down, west to east, of the United States where she and I traveled for two years, before moving back home to Texas. Simple memories captured on film, which can never be replaced.

    Walls, flooring, appliances, a bed, a bath tub, sinks, furniture etc are needs and can all be replaced, but will have to be done a little at a time because of finances. Getting a livable home rebuilt and made safe to live in again, with basic necessities, not just a house full of more “stuff”, will most likely take the rest of my life.

    Having to purchase transitional housing to have a place to reside while all this happens, and the money required to do that, would have been enough to get much of what we “need” to live in our home, the house that God literally gave to us, again, but it’s cheaper than living in a motel for months.

    Often, God’s ways are not our ways. But His ways are always right, whether we see that at the time or not.

    I pray for Him to increase my faith, then a tragedy strikes forcing me to use that increased faith I asked Him for.

    I am very limited, physically and financially on what I can do, God knows that and God also knows I have the faith to persevere to the end, but God also knows old satan roams about the earth, seeking individuals, families, churches and countries, to devour. He is strong and often successful. But Christ’s Bride, will be protected, because of our faith and our commitment.

    To God be the glory. Forever and ever. Even in the wrecked homes and mountains of stinking, decaying “stuff”.

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