Last weekend, in honor of Recycling Day, our family made our annual pilgrimage to the city dump – or, as my children are quick to correct me, landfill. Besides free lunch and the bus tour to the highest topographical point in central
made solely out of carefully laid out and processed millions of pounds of citizens’
garbage, by far my favorite stop is the compost pile.
The huge mound of excellent quality dirt is made available to county residents for free, as a way to thank them for faithfully setting their yard waste by the curb each week. The largely unusable by-products of regular yard chores as well as big yard makeovers are turned into nutrient-packed garden-ready topsoil for everyone to enjoy. Year after year, we bring shovels and large plastic bags, fill them up to the top and take home as much as our trunk would accommodate. Then we drag the bags out and scatter the content inside our vegetable plot, throughout the lawn and flower garden, saving some for seasonal flower pots. The difference that it makes in the vegetation around our house is astounding.
Due to a variety of factors, the soil where we live is sandy, porous, generally depleted and poor quality. Growing anything is like trying to grow a garden on the beach. In order to produce at all, the soil must be supplemented, otherwise the plants suffer and eventually die.
Jesus refers to our hearts as soil – indicating various degrees of receptivity to His word and its power to transform our lives. He talks about the hard, the rocky, the thorn-overgrown and good soil (Matthew 13:1-23). He doesn’t necessarily mention the depleted soil, but there are days when that would be the most accurate description of the condition of my own heart.
The factors contributing to this condition are many and diverse. Sometimes I wish there was a spiritual compost pile where I can restore and replenish the soil of my soul so the seed of God’s Word can take strong root and produce vibrant fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Then, I think of another dumping ground outside the city gates where the Lord was crucified, and with His death, once and for all, transformed all the trash, all the waste, all the sin of the world into a rich, life-giving garden soil that produces eternal life.
The Cross is the compost pile. The Cross is the place where I can come and keep coming, not just once a year, but moment-by-moment, day-by-day. This is where you and I can bring what is dead, useless and depleted, what is discarded and considered a waste in the eyes of the world and even in our own eyes. In this place of exchange, I can replenish my empty bags with the rich soil of hope in the God of resurrection, who rose Jesus from the dead and promises life to all the fools and discards of this world who come and keep coming to Him.
... Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Hebrews 13:12-14