Digging for Gold

You know what used  to annoy me?  The people who walk down my street pulling a loudly rattling grocery cart full of bottles and digging through my trash cans for recyclables.

It was now Saturday night, and I sat at a sidewalk table in Studio City enjoying some fro-yo and an interesting book. For those of us who feel the extreme societal pressure to be busy with cool people in cool places on Saturday nights, this was, by all accounts, lame. But for me, it was just what I needed; a quiet ending to a quiet day. 

As I finished up another chapter, something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I turned to find a short man, meagerly dressed, digging through a trash can 15 feet from where I sat. Much like the people who make their way down my street on trash day, I paid him little notice…at first.  

As I closed my book and rose to leave, I noticed a glass bottle on the ground near my seat. And the thought went through my mind; “I bet that guy could use this glass bottle.” So, I caught his eye, and pointed to the bottle. He nodded “thank you” and then went back to digging. Then I thought, “Chris (that’s what I call myself), don’t just point at the bottle. Take it over to him – just like you take something to someone who does not dig through trash.” So I picked up the bottle and handed it to him.

And it may sound cheesy, but in that moment, I felt the pure joy of helping another human being.  An act so little. So simple. And so meaningful. 

Then, I spotted a aluminum coke can on the sidewalk. I picked it up too and walked over to his car, full of bags of recyclables, and handed him the can. He had a scruffy face, sad eyes, and the posture of someone who has had a rough go of it. He smiled. As it receded from his tired face he took the aluminum can, and said “ah…these are like gold.”

Soon, I found myself also digging through trash cans for more pieces of “gold”. Something I have never done before. And, I’m sad to say, for someone I would have never helped before. 

The truth is, that man and I are not that different. I too am looking for “gold”. I’m looking for things of value to make my life better. And just because my “gold” comes in the form of a weekly pay-check, I think I’m better than him and the people who pull grocery carts down my street. 

But on that quiet Saturday night, God patiently reminded me that we’re all the same. And God loves all of us the same. And God has chosen to show His love to us by acting through us. He has chosen us to help others find the “gold” in this life. 

This morning I saw the lady with the loud rattling cart come down my street again. And this time I was not annoyed.

Galatians 3:28    Romans 12:3, 9-13   1 Peter 1:3-9

Thank you Jesus. Thank you that you change me, even the greatest of sinners. Teach me to love even more.

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