Surviving the Trash Heaps of Life

[A] dump.  That’s what it felt like my life had become.  A dumping ground for problems and troubles.  I had questions without answers.  Riddles without solutions.  A future without direction.  All heaped together in one bewildering pile of doubt and uncertainty.

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

I needed to get away.  To find a quiet place to ponder my problems, pray, and find peace.  So I booked a weekend stay at a spiritual retreat center.  It felt a bit like a campground with cabins for sleeping and acres and acres of wooded trails ideal for walking, thinking, and praying.

Two days passed at the retreat center, but my fervent prayers seemed to bring no response from God.  On the final morning of my stay, I rose early for a walk before sunrise.  A magnificent sliver crescent moon adorned the sky.  I walked along the edge of a grassy field bordered by trees.  Coming to a break in the woods I followed a moonlit path through the forest vaguely hoping to find a serene spot for quiet meditation.  The path led to a small clearing whose centerpiece was a large trash heap.

The huge pile–perhaps 20 feet tall–consisted mainly of broken junk.  There were worn-out wooden pallets, damaged tables, splintered doors, and rusted appliances.  Mixed in were the broken branches and chopped up trunks of fallen trees.  Circling the mound, I noticed a large log resting at the top of the trash heap.  Surprisingly, I decided this might be a good spot to pray.  After all, no one was likely to disturb me up there.  Scrambling over bits of plywood, appliances and branches I made my way to the summit.  Sitting atop the log and surveying my climb it occurred to me how much my life felt like this trash heap.  Piled high with rubbish I didn’t know how to deal with.

Though I never expected to find myself atop a trash heap during a spiritual retreat, it turned out to be the best place to meet God.  For there I felt God draw near.  Sensing his presence I poured my heart out to him.

I told him my trials, troubles, and tribulations.  And he listened.
I declared my doubts, fears and discouragements.  And he heard.
I poured out my confusion, uncertainty and insecurity.  And he understood.

Did he solve all my problems that morning on the trash heap?  No.  But something miraculous did occur.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  I knew I had a hand to guide me and heart that cherished me.  Somehow God calmed my inner chaos and turned my timidity into trust.  Trust in a faithful Father who will never leave me no matter how much trash accumulates in my life.

Ever feel like life has dumped a load of unwanted worries on you?  Are there times of too many questions and not enough answers?  Too much trash and not enough transcendence?  Perhaps you’ll discover, as I did, that the best place to meet God is often at the top of the trash heap.  At the pinnacle of your most pressing problems.  For God has promised to listen when we speak.  To answer when we pray.

I was not alone in my time of trouble.  And you aren’t either.  God can turn any pile of problems into a place of promise and praise.

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.”  Psalm 55:22  MSG


Question: When it feels like you’re sitting atop a trash heap in life, what ways have you found to connect with God? Ways that speak peace into your soul? (Share your thoughts in the comments)

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