Inside Perspective - December 2014

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Today, I experienced a little stress---but the Lord, by His grace, turned it onto a blessing. It started out as an ordinary day for me. I awoke to the routine sound of Carlos doing his chores, namely last night’s dishes. I laid there prayerfully, caught the weather on the radio, and waited for him to leave. He’s gone at 6:30 a.m., at which time I get out of bed and do my own chores while preparing myself for the Lord’s use.

First, I pop on the stereo so I can listen to the Psalms while I wash up, brush my grill and make a quick cup of coffee. After this, I make the beds and then wipe down the floor to keep aforementioned dreaded sand at bay. Depending on the day, I have a good hour or so for the Word and prayer while they run the breakfast movement, after which they call me out for work.

This morning was a beautiful autumn day. As I walked to work, the weather was sunny and crisp while the sun warmed the dew on the fresh mown grass. I was joyful in my King and the wonder of His creation. While I continued on my way, I was also pondering the things I needed to do at work. At this time of year, we are finishing up the transport of all the tropical plants back inside the Greenhouse for the winter. All the banana, ficus, dracaena, palm, lemon trees and jasmine, etc., will then have to re-acclimate to the indoors.

When I got to the Greenhouse, I went through my usual ritual of opening up my tool crib and getting the tools ready. I greeted Junebug and asked if there was anything pressing that needed to be done, because of late, I had been plagued by buckhorn in my grassy areas. Buckhorn is a semi-invasive weed that, unfortunately, reproduces at a rate that even rabbits would envy! Their presence had been in “my craw”, as cowboys used to say---a proverbial “thorn in my side”, that I had to address.

So, today, I was going into extraction mode. I put on my knee-pads and got my five-gallon pail, a trowel, and a single pronged crack-cleaner. This chore is all hand-work that is kneeling down. It typically takes me about four hours to remove these weeds and I do it each fall before they are able to re-seed. One by one I pulled them out and filled up my whole pail with buckhorn and then went and dumped them into the trash. I was using the crack-cleaner because it was working the best. The trowel was at the bottom of my pail and as I filled it with buckhorn, naturally I lost sight of the trowel and became absentminded as to its whereabouts. When I dumped the buckhorn into the garbage can, unbeknownst to me, in went the trowel!

A little while later, Junebug bagged up the trash and took it to the dumpster and flung it in. Normal procedure, no big deal right? Not! About an hour later, I sat down and took a breather and as is my habit, I took count of my tools and noticed that the trowel was gone. I knew it had been in my five-gallon pail and that I had dumped it out just one time. I went to look in the garbage can and the garbage was gone. I looked at Junebug and he looked at me and off to the dumpster we went!

I became a bit anxious as I sought the Lord’s guidance. The dumpster was huge and filled with garbage of every sort! It was my trowel, so it was therefore “my dive”, and dive I did. If I didn’t find the trowel “we” would shortly be in the hole!

Well, needless to say, I searched that dumpster as if I was looking for the lost Ark of the Covenant. It was foul and stunk so bad and before I knew it, so did I. I was ripping open bags of garbage and rummaging through them one by one like a madman as Junebug looked on. Meanwhile, one of my friends spotted me in the dumpster and yelled, “Philip, did you lose something? Do you need help?” With panic in my voice and not comprehending in the moment that I did indeed need help, I said, “No, I’m fine,”

It is written, “Remember who and where you were when you called…” (My paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29) As I stood there in the dumpster and looked at myself, in the twinkling of an eye, I had a spiritual epiphany and it all became clear to me. It was the story of my life! Sin brings men low. (Psalms 106:43 (KJV) Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.) My selfish sins and wrong choices had brought me to the brink of death. I myself had taken an innocent life and was then on the verge of taking my own. I had fallen into the “dumpster of sin” and I was foul and I stank---bad! I was searching “bags of garbage” (drugs) looking for hope and deliverance from the eternal hole called hell that I was so quickly spiraling toward.

God had sent Christians time and time again to “my dumpster” asking me, “Philip, did you lose something? (I was lost) Do you need some help?” Without fail, my pride always compelled me to reply, “No, I‘m fine.” I was so steeped in my own sin that, foul as I was, I could not smell myself!

Finally, by the grace of God, Junebug opened a bag and there was the trowel! No sooner had Junebug found the trowel than I jumped out of that stinking dumpster filled with joy! In the same way, I couldn’t find the Lord; but when He found me I jumped out of that “dumpster of sin”, filled with the joy of the Lord. And I have gratefully served Him ever since!

“Don’t Forget Where ‘You’ Came From!”

Joyfully in Jesus,
Love, Philip