In my first book about the Wise Men, the youngest Magus searches for mention of a new star in Persian and other cultures’ writings. Frustrated at the enormity of the task, he likens it to digging for treasure in the city’s trash heap.
The analogy carries a larger meaning. Especially today.
My last blog mentioned how everyone has opinions of how to fix the U.S. But we don’t have people-sized problems; we have God-sized problems.
Relying on our own efforts to navigate life and solve our problems is like digging through a trash heap to find bits of treasure—when infinite treasure troves of wisdom, strength, and power lie just beyond our reach in God’s abundance.
Put in material terms, if you had two choices for how to meet your needs, would you dumpster dive behind a Walmart or walk into a Mall of America with an unlimited line of credit?
Attempting to fix spiritual problems with humanistic, material answers puts a Band-Aid on a bleeding artery. Some measures do provide short-term, lifesaving aid during unprecedented hardship. But they have limits (and often strings attached). More important, no government can legislate morality—the inner, God-given fire that makes us think about others more than we think of ourselves, which is the catalyst for truly lasting change.
We remain in the middle of unheard-of hardships. For me, 2020 meant loss of most of my income, having chicken pox, losing friends to COVID-19, and contracting a scary, prolonged case of it.
I know God is always with me. But when the going gets tough, I tend to put my head down and plough ahead.
Sure, I pray. And I keep pushing against mountains. But the more I work on a mountain that doesn’t seem to move, the more I lean toward rummaging through the trash heap at the bottom of it instead of relying on God.
I’m in danger of losing sight of the fact that my inadequacies—not God’s—need a gut check.
Job on the trash heap
In the space of thirty-two verses, Job lost everything—his animals (currency of the day), servants, family, health. Job literally sat on a trash heap in sorrow. The beginning of the story is so grim that some people believe it’s an analogy rather than a true recounting.
Job is a long book, full of not-so-helpful friends spouting homespun wisdom, platitudes, and opinions. Sound like anything happening today?
Somehow Job rose from his trash heap. Was it from frustration because his friends ticked him off so much? Or did his faith in God pull him to his feet? (You decide.)
Job maintained his innocence of wrongdoing. He refused to curse God, but he questioned God. Plenty.
Questioning God doesn’t mean we don’t believe or trust Him. It does mean we need to send God a flare.
Lord, I can’t see past this mountain. I can’t find a way through it or around it. I’m so tired of dealing with it that I’m just sitting on my own little trash heap. My efforts, others’ advice, praying to You—nothing seems to help. Lift my eyes above the mountain before me. Show me anything that may block my heart from receiving what You want to teach me—dare I say bless me with—in this situation. Sometimes You have a strange way of blessing me, but I know it’s for my own good. Keep my heart soft toward You so I don’t waste time sifting through trash to find a bit of bling that the world counts as treasure.
Job lifted his head. So I encourage you, dear friend, lift your head.
- You are not the sum of your past. You are God’s precious creation.
- You are not the sum of your sins. God has set you free from all of them.
- You are worthy of God’s love, purpose, protection, and care. Not because of what you do but because God says so.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).
There’s life beyond the trash heap.
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BONUS: Jo Dee Messina composed “Bigger Than This” when she hit bottom in her life. Mike Huckabee’s introduction of her at the song’s premiere summarizes what she was weathering when she wrote the lyrics. It’s powerful encouragement for everyone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abZxjgz89Hk