If you were around my area, you’d probably see me alongside the road. I’m not homeless. And I’m not roadkill. It’s that I’ve been jogging for sixty years.
I’ve jogged in half of our States, in about ten different countries and on five different continents.
I jog in summer and in winter. I jog in sunshine and in rain. I jog early when the air is fresh and clean; at noon when the sun shines bright; later when the day is mellow. I jog with my shirt off because of the heat or with my face wrapped against the winter wind. I jog on blacktop and on dirt trails.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this jogger from the swift (?) completion of his appointed rounds.
Over the years I have run a lot of miles, and I have been passed by a lot of cars, trucks, cycles, bikes. But there is one thing that never changes. I have learned from the garbage trucks that roar past me that they all smell the same.
All garbage smells the same.
And so the garbage trucks in Tennessee have the same smell as the garbage trucks in Washington State. The garbage trucks in Chicago or in Michigan or in Florida all smell the same. The garbage trucks in Africa smell the same as in Europe. You can believe me on this! I’ve run behind them all.
And they all smell the same because everybody’s garbage smells the same.
The garbage of the “beautiful people” posing on the red carpets for the Oscars smells the same as the garbage of the fans across the country at a Yankee game.
The garbage of the “important people” in our nation’s capital smells the same as the dented garbage cans along the sidewalk in East St. Louis.
The garbage of women in glamorous gowns and the garbage of handsome men in tuxedos smells the same as the garbage of men behind bars in orange jumpsuits or the men in pressed business suits.
The garbage of helpful women in waitress’s aprons smells the same as the garbage of pretty young school teachers in high heels.
It’s a funny thing. I want to think my old banana peels don’t smell as bad as your empty egg shells. But the word “everybody” means that my garbage smells too. My garbage smells the same as yours and your garbage smells the same as mine.
I’m free out on the street and I want to think, “I’m not as bad as the guys behind bars.” Some guys behind bars think, “I’m not as bad as those guys in solitary.”
And as long as I keep on wanting to think your garbage is worse than mine, I am showing that I really don’t understand God’s forgiveness.
As I try not to breathe when those trucks pass, I think, “Where’s that verse in the Bible that says, ‘For everyone’s garbage smells and makes God hold His nose.’”
Sort of like that. Actually, “Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence.” (Romans 3:23)
We believe the Bible is God’s Truth written down, right? So “everyone” means your and my sin, too. We all have litter, refuse, junk, rubbish, garbage—whatever scale we use to minimize the disobedience in our lives. God’s prophets and God’s people are similarly unclean. (Isaiah 6:5) Is there something about “everybody” that we don’t understand?
I’ve noticed the garbage makes the trucks smell, too. If we bring our garbage and our own smelly lives to the Great Forgiver and ask to be clean, our Savior personally hurls all our iniquity into the depths of the dump (Micah 7:19). That same precious Bible says, “See! Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:6)
And then It says, “Go, and tell.” (Isaiah 6:9) Are you kidding? After we have been so lovingly deodorized, our Savior has to urge us to care about those who smell like we used to?! Are we really aware how bad we smelled? Building plans, picky les miserables; the sermon windmill; our isolation; bone and brain weariness; family tensions; doubts about our effectiveness; that rotten snake’s beguiling suggestions — all of that is w-a-a-a-a-a-y back in second place knowing that “to God, we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)