Spiritual Waste Management
by Pastor George Van Alstine

Our trash collection company is Waste Management, Inc. I love that name — “Waste Management.” It’s so hopeful. Not “Waste Disposal,” but “Waste Management.” The stuff I throw away is not just disposable; it’s reusable. But it has to be “managed” properly in order to be put to its best use.

Please understand — this is not a commercial. We didn’t choose this company because of their “green” idealism. We chose them because their price was right.

But I felt kind of proud when I watched a documentary on TV last night that was all about my trash collection company’s procedures in “managing” my waste. The process is fascinating. The truck that picks up at my house travels to a central facility where it combines its load with many others. The trash travels along a conveyer belt where complex machines select out certain recyclable items by size, shape and weight. The remaining trash is hand-sorted by people looking for particular usable items and materials. What’s left is trucked to landfill areas, where it is layered and compacted. When a landfill reaches capacity, it may become the site of a golf course, or a nature sanctuary, or a new forest. Underground, organic materials are still decomposing, and the methane gas produced by this process is collected through a network of pipes. This finds its way to a generating plant, where electricity is produced for a tract of houses, or an industrial development, or a shopping mall. The University of New Hampshire receives 80% of its energy from a nearby landfill’s methane production.

You know that I have a spiritual application in mind. A person’s life produces a lot of trash — not just the physical kind, but also the spiritual, social/relational kind. Waste Management, Inc., can’t help with that. But part of the Good News in the Bible is that God has an even more creative and efficient process for managing this non-physical waste of our lives. When he saves us and makes us into new persons, he doesn’t just toss out the old trash of our past. He is the Expert in Spiritual Waste Management.

Some people’s testimonies about deliverance from a dark past can bring hope to others who are still walking on the wrong road. All of us can see in retrospect how failures and frustrations of earlier years helped lead us to our current relationship with God. My 47 years as a pastor have convinced me that God can transform any kind of trash we have produced in the past into something he can shape for a positive use.

Those of us who have been around for a while have carried in many bags, filled with the goodies life offers, and we’ve also had to carry out many bags of trash, the leftovers of our self indulgence and sin. Lots of bags in, lots of bags out — you can get tired of carrying bags. In reviewing our lives, we may have to say that the bags in (enjoyment, fulfillment, lasting love, success) don’t come close to equaling the bags out (broken promises, hurtful breakups, dashed dreams).

Well, here’s the Good News! The One who created all things and pronounced them to be good hates waste. He is the Master Recycler, and his specialty is Spiritual Waste Management in the lives of people who accept his offer of salvation. He will help you to face the most trash-filled corners of your life. You may be surprised what treasures he discovers there.