Have you ever spent time looking at the ground? It is interesting what you see and notice. Have you ever looked at the ground when it is dark?
My two teenage boys have an early morning job that starts when it is still dark. They are employed for a small amount of time by a company that cleans a local car park and toilet block. Their job is to pick up rubbish, blower vac the car park and take rubbish bins out. It is not the nicest of jobs to have, but it is teaching them some great lessons.
It has been a fantastic time to remind them that everyone needs to start somewhere until they get where they want to in life. They have also learnt how dirty people can be, and how thoughtless people can be. They are learning that some habits that people have, not only cause addictions, but cause those people to not care about others or the environment that other have to live in.
Every morning the boys have to pick up hundreds of cigarette butts, lolly wrappers, alcohol bottles and cans, soft drink cans and takeaways food containers.
There job, hopefully, will teach them to enjoy the product of a finished job. The “thanks boys” from their boss, and the grateful thanks from the shop tenants, should also help them understand that when a good job is done, it is sometimes noticed by others.
There is one other important lesson that they are learning – treat people nicely no matter what someone does for a living. I teach my children to be wary of strangers, but to be polite and say hallo. I do the same. People are sometimes so rude and look away, not respond, or just stare at us. Just because we are picking up rubbish for a job does not mean we are ignorant or lower than them to be treated as such.
It is my job as a mum to wake them when they are tired, prompt them when they don’t want to get up, and drive them back and forth to the job. It is my job to make sure the environment is safe and that they are doing the job they are paid for. I also use the opportunity to teach them small things that they have no idea that they are being taught. I also help them get started – my eldest starts up the Blower soon after arriving so my younger son has to get ahead of him in picking up the rubbish. I help him get started, by putting on some gloves and picking up rubbish too.
There is something else that lies on the ground unseen by many.
Coins. Yes. Money. Often by picking up rubbish you see the 5 and 10 cents pieces left by others. Odd occasionally, you find a real treasure like a $5 note.
Most mornings you can collect about 50 cents worth of coin. But here is the thing – you have to pick up rubbish to see it and, because it is still dark, you can almost walk past the money on the ground. The silver coin is nearly the same colour as the asphalt, and the $5 note is often caught up in the garden or under rubbish.
While picking up rubbish this morning, the Lord reminded me of a lesson He taught me a few days before. It was after I had bent down to pick up some cigarette butts that my youngest had missed, and something caught my eye. I bent a little closer and realised that it was perfectly round. I picked it up and it was a 5 cent piece. It was tarnished, slightly damaged but it was money. I walked over and gave it to my son.
As I handed it to him, he made a comment about it being too dark these days to see the money, but I noticed he was taking more attention to his job. The Holy Spirit spoke into my heart. “Sometimes people cant see because it is too dark.” As I walked the final part of the car park with my son, I mulled over what I had been given. Too true, sometimes life, circumstances, ill health, tragedies, mental and emotional problems, and exhaustion, stop us from seeing treasures and (sometimes) rubbish that they need to see, take note of, and remove.
At the moment I have had quite a number of ladies who have reached out to me through social media, email and through my blogs. They are battlers – struggling with life, abuse, depression and illnesses. My job is not to tell them what to do or give them advice – I am not a doctor, lawyer or professional anything. My job is to be there and to understand, to prompt them, encourage them, point them towards a professional, and sometimes, help them pick up rubbish and show them the treasure they cannot see.
Just like I did in not lecture my son for missing the cigarette butts and money, there are people who do not need the lecture from others. Not only do they need help to see treasures, sometimes they need help seeing the rubbish too. A lecture will do no good as they are doing the best they can, however encouragement can bring a better eyesight. Right now, each one of those ladies are being lectured to and sometimes treated as inferior. Recently, one lady wrote this – “don’t tell me to pray and have faith”. Some people cannot see in the dark.
See, sometime the world has been a dark place to live for a long time. As Christians they go to other Christians for help. They often get told to pray, put on praise music, thank God for their life and to have faith – they get treated as if it just easy to get up and switch on a light. As if their human will is able and that their eyes can see in the dark.
It is true that many people need some light – they need a torch …or maybe a lamp or a light for their path. I can strike a match to encourage them for a moment, but they will soon need more then that. They will need the Son to rise and shine once again into their very being. Until then they need those of us not effected by the dark to hold their hand and help them.
I was in that dark place for 18 months too once. I, my mind, will and emotions, could not see the treasures that lay around for me to gather, I could not see the rubbish. I felt the rubbish. It was tripping me over and I could sense it around my feet but didn’t know what to do. But the treasure was hidden. I couldn’t see my life with anything precious within it. But God gave me the ability to see and hold onto something that helped me hang on.
You see, in my darkest moment it was a homeless man who helped me to see a treasure. He told me that he was happy to live no matter what tomorrow would bring. He had nothing and nowhere to go. But he was ok with living. It was from this moment that I was given a tiny piece of treasure that night which I gripped for 18 months.
Three months after this, I reached up a took a hold of God’s hand and He held me until I could see again. It was a simple prayer that said to the God, I didn’t know was listening, that I would not give up no matter how hard life would get. For some reason I knew He heard.
It was the hardest thing that I had ever done – taken the hand of a God that I hardly knew and walked around with no feelings to help. The only feeling I had, wanted me to give up and I knew I couldn’t trust them. Amongst the rubbish I found faith, which was worth more than I could ever imagine. It would be the thing that held me for years to come.
Many people told that I just needed be richer, cleaner and that I needed to stay on my feet. They told me to read the bible, listen to Christian music, that I need to have more faith. The worst advice I received was this – “get over yourself”. The greatest thing I needed was hope and faith. I wanted it. There was treasure there on the ground for me to find and take a hold of, but I could not see.
The faith that I thought that I didn’t have, was there in abundance. I didn’t realise that the more I hung on, the greater my faith. In hanging on to God, He was filling my pockets with treasure for me to have later on.
That this scripture – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
One bible commentary put it like this – “the soul thereby seeing what the eye cannot see”.
So, what can you then say to someone whose soul cannot see either? Do we all have some spark of hope deep within us? Is it just that we need someone to help us find and acknowledge that hope, no matter how small? Do you realise that sometimes people need someone to walk through the darkness with them?
There will always be someone is who will help you to seek the treasure among the rubbish and in the dark, but it might be the least likely person or it might be a pet. Somewhere you need to promise yourself to hang on and wait for your eyes to see again. Find people to help you – the right people.
In the meantime, this is my letter to you –
Dear Damaged and Hurting One in the darkness,
I have this treasure given by God to give you. I know you cannot see but I found this while I was walking around in the dark. This treasure is called “hang in there” or “perseverance”. Make a promise to yourself that you will never listen to the words that come from the dark places of your mind and heart. Make a vow to yourself that you will live, no matter what.
This is the treasure that will see you through until you find hope. The hope you find will build in you and will grow.
When you feel no one else cares, there is a God who cares. His knows you like no other and will be there even when you don’t feel Him. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for things to help you through. But don’t expect people to be that answer. People are often only able to see their own life. Allow perseverance to reach out to God and use it to hang on Him.
I cannot promise you anything other than this – Keep looking for treasure in your life and look for the treasure “contentment”. This is the treasure that sees everything differently, it settles into your heart like nothing else. Keep contentment and do not trade it for anything.
Don’t allow the darkness to keep these treasures hidden from you. Don’t allow the rubbish to be the only thing you pick up. Don’t hang onto the rubbish, it is not worth it’s weight.
There are others who have won this battle and now walk thru the darkness with God’s light in front of them, helping those who are lost in the black.
From your fellow Treasure Seeker.
Psalm 50:15 – “Call on me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor me.”