I’ve been pretty silent for a while, not writing much due to moving into our new home. There are lots of things to keep us busy, from painting, tiling and moving around the furniture just to amuse ourselves. From time to time, Mary Ann asks me to move the sofa just so she knows I can still do it. She’s a good wife.
However, late August has brought about a new rhythm of its own. I have succumbed to the desire to change my scenery and have returned to working with my partner Matt at our home renovation biz. Matt says good help is hard to find and he said it out loud within earshot, so I am guessing he is hinting to me to get busy and hang that drywall! Fare thee well favorite big box store!
Today however, I had just arrived at the Williamson County Dump and Recycle Center to throw out a bunch of old drywall and carpet we had pulled up from a customers home. These places are convenient Not only can you throw away old paint, tires and worn out batteries, but they have several compactors that will crush trash, metal and even a trailer for old mattresses. I’m telling you this is “Trash-o-Rama!” Williamson County residents can take one full truck load a day…A DAY mind you and it is all paid for in your handy dandy 9.75% sliding tax scale. Tennessee has no State tax and, believe me, it’s like passing a peach pit at the cash register when you’re paying 9.75% on EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE. However…I digress.
Today while dumping lots of garbage into the compactor, a younger couple in their mid to late twenties stood on the opposite side of the compactor and were throwing their trash into the dumpster as well. They were young…and in love…Ahhh Youth! And they were quite proud of the fact that he had just bought her a diamond the size of Rhode Island as an engagement ring. She was all of 80 pounds soaking wet and without a doubt she was bigger than he was. She was flashing that piece of ice for all of us trash people to see. In all honesty, she should have been walking with an armed guard. It was beautiful and…well…
She was thrusting out her left hand for the people on my side of the trash compactor to see when two things happened exactly at the same time. The compactor was full, Buford, the compactor operator was too busy looking at her ring when he pushed the yellow button that started the compactor moving forward. The thing was full to the brim with all kinds of goodies… 2×4’s, banana peels, some rotten eggs, some used baby diapers, (Cruisers…on sale 150 pack for 12.99) oil filters, two or three rolls of fiberglass, an old floor lamp, a box of broken fluorescent bulbs and bags and bags of trash. The second thing that happened was that her ring went flying off into the trash compactor!
It slipped in between some oil filters and believe it or not I heard it hit the bottom of the steel compactor floor. The thing was mauling and had already begun to break some boxes and bags open…one of them exploded with a “splash” as it went everywhere. The young woman looked horrified and screamed. Buford pushed the emergency stop but things were mashed in so tight after some fretting and crying …and that was Buford doing the fretting and crying, there was NO WAY to reverse the compactor. Everything ground to a halt and six of us stood staring at the compactor. The woman’s fiancé was really mad…which; considering that a diamond the size of a softball had just gone into a trash compactor, I guess made sense. Two people drove off and me, Buford the woman and her red faced fiancé stood there looking.
What to do…what to do?
I asked Buford if the compactor had a pull out tray underneath to which he answered no. I, of course had no idea of what to do. So, I did the only thing one does in these situations…I asked the Lord what to do. The woman was hysterical at this point. She knew her ring was down in that compactor that compressed garbage up to 10,000 lbs. In view of her options, she could allow the compressor to go through it’s crushing and hop into the dumpster to see if it survived the onslaught or…well, that was it…it was the only option.
I asked her if I could pray and she said, “Anything, do anything!!! I want my ring! So I did. “Lord, I ask you to protect that ring and not let it get crushed.” She ordered Buford to start the compactor which, now had a line of cars waiting to dump things into it. Buford pushed the button. The sound of crunching, creaking, splitting wood and squishy garbage being compacted was sickening to hear. I kept hoping that thing was insured.
After the piston returned to it’s starting spot, I asked Buford to turn off the compactor for a moment. Yes…into the dumpster I dove; feet first however…let’s not get crazy. Buford handed me his flash light and I scoured the bottom of that dumpster. I got a sick feeling that didn’t come from the used diaper material on the side of the dumpster. I thought, “Oh no Lord, her ring…” and then…
Out of the corner of my eye, there, right up against a bunch of garbage and eggshells, gleamed her diamond ring…perfectly intact!
I reached down, asked Buford if he had a rag and to my surprise he handed me an alcohol wipe. I gave it a quick once over. THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE SCRATCH ON THE GOLD NOR WAS THE BAND EVEN BENT!
I handed the ring over to the woman and she shrieked with joy! They asked me if I wanted money as a reward. I told her, as I climbed out of the dumpster the only thing that came to my mind…and believe me, I wasn’t trying to be spiritual.
I said, “Store up for yourself riches in heaven where thief cannot steal nor moth destroy…you can do that for me!” They helped me out of the dumpster and she confided that she had been a lapsed Catholic for twelve years. “but “ she said, “I have to go and confess my sins.” Being a former Catholic myself, I told her, “God is available right now…you don’t have to go to the confessional.” She teared up and told me God could never forgive her. Her fiancé stood stone cold silent as she told me she had aborted a baby and could never be forgiven for that. That’s when Buford became my “mighty man of God” . Buford pulled out a Bible from a stack of three on his shelf he had pulled out of the trash from various people. He underlined the Scriptures for her and was very bold.
“Darlin’ this man has jumped into a dumpster for you but dat don’t mean nuthin’ compared to whut Jesus dun fer ya. He ain’t hangin’ on no crucifix…Jesus is Alive pumpkin….ALIVE I tell you!” Without asking, Buford put up the “This lane closed” sign and told her Jesus “dun come to the trash bin today to find you!”. My eyes teared up. So did hers and her fiancé’s. Ole Buford prayed for her and her man. I told her God forgives everything and right there…in the compactor aisle number #2 at the Williamson County Recycling Center, The woman and her fiancé prayed the sinner’s prayer. Buford, BOLD man of faith, who knew why he was there, he put his hand in the devil’s face and pushed him out of the way. In all honesty, no preacher in thirty years has had that kind of anointing on him. He was the preacher, I just got to be there.
After giving them a tract from his church, we prayed again and they went their way. Buford winked at me and said, “Hey my man, we dun did team ministry and I don’t even know yore name!” I gave Buford a big hug and said, “Not important Buford, but thank you for your boldness and authority!” Buford smiled and said, “The minute you spoke Scripture to dat couple, I knowed dat God decided to go fishin’ in the dump today…you were the hook and the bait…and I got to reel them in!”
There is nothing God won’t do to reach people. Be ready to jump into a dumpster. You never know what is going to happen. Thank God. Being the hook and bait never felt so good!