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The God of the trash heap

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I brought my running shoes to Mexico. Behind Bob Waag’s house is a giant trash heap – all the garbage of Matamoros piled into a huge mountain. It sits in a wide open field that stretches miles in every direction, making it ideal for running. So I run a mile across the field to the tras…
By Seth Barnes

I brought my running shoes to Mexico. Behind Bob Waag’s house is a giant trash heap – all the garbage of Matamoros piled into a huge mountain. It sits in a wide open field that stretches miles in every direction, making it ideal for running.

truck trash

So I run a mile across the field to the trash heap and bear left. As I was running, thoughts were flashing through my mind. I’m in a zone. All the while, I’m running into new territory, not paying attention. When it came time to turn around and head for home, I discovered I was lost.

I began to run on goat paths past scattered trash, cactus, and sage brush. And nothing looked familiar. Panicky thoughts began to rise up in me – I began throwing out “Oh God, help-me-get-out-of-this-one” prayers.

And then I felt the Lord say, “Go back to the trash heap and start over.”

Much as I hated to back track, that’s what I did. And then peace began to come back to me. I recognized a dirt road and began to follow it home. And as I ran along, I heard the Lord say, “Whenever you get lost, look for me at the trash heap. I like to hang out there with the people living nearby. And when you find me, I’ll show you the way home.”

Afterwards I reflected – so often in life we find ourselves caught up in self-absorbed thinking. In a way, we’re lost. We look for Jesus and he doesn’t seem to be around. But every time I’ve gone looking for him in a slum near some trash heap, there he is, reflected in the eyes of a child playing nearby or some old crone waving at me. Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He hangs out with them. He makes his home with them.

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