82: Finding God in a Dumpster

82: Finding God in a Dumpster

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Finding God in a Dumpster

By Corinne A. Hummel

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

~Mark 4:40

Dumpster diving is an honorable occupation. Rescuing cans from the town Dumpsters and seeing them safely to the local recycle center provides the aluminum with a future and me with much-needed cash. My life as a certified nurse’s aide had come to an abrupt end when safety restraints were declared harsh restrictions of patient rights. Mattresses were placed on the floor to prevent patient falls. Nurse’s aides then had to work by kneeling on the floor and using terrible body mechanics to do patient care. My beat-up, battered, old body let me know my working days were over, and a doctor declared me 100 percent disabled.

Disabled! Self-respect took a major dive. Independence? Ha! My lifetime motto, “I can take care of myself — with God’s help,” became “With God’s help, I can survive.” Food stamps and money for rent came from the state. Nutritious, healthy food became a luxury, and extras evaporated.

I discovered Dumpster diving after town officials voted to end curbside trash collection. Three industrial-size Dumpsters appeared, and people adjusted to dumping stuff in a central place. Locals didn’t throw away much good stuff, but keen observation and desperation showed me a prime time for Dumpster diving. The local lake hosted a weekend population from the nearby big city. On Sunday evening, city folks would pack up and head home, stopping at the Dumpsters with their trash. Bingo! When the parade of cars leaving town rolled away, my trusty grabber and I got busy.

Standing on my sturdy, three-step ladder, I used my grabber to pull a box toward me. It was full of cans, and I was counting the money as I reached for it. That’s when I spotted the book — well, half a book. I parked the box of cans on my Radio Flyer to retrieve it. A Bible! Well, half a Bible. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for the person so stressed that he or she tore the book in two. So I laughed with a God who would let me know I was in His sights even while Dumpster diving.

That’s when I focused on the top page of the halved Bible. Past the crumpled creases, I read Mark 4:40, “‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” I sat down on my ladder and cried. All the prayers, all the struggles, all the survival techniques came into focus: With God at my side, who can win against me? He used a Dumpster dive to remind me that He is ever with me, and I can never drift beyond His everlasting arms. I wiped away my tears, looked up with heartfelt thanks, and went digging for the other half of the Bible. Reunited, the two halves live in the glove compartment of my pickup truck where His words remind me of His presence — all the time.

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