I’ve had a trash truck on my mind for days. Sounds strange, I know. I was sitting in the drive-thru waiting to get my London Fog, when across the alley roared the ruckus.
I observed (because what else does one do when sitting in the drive thru) as it approached with forklift-ish disconnected arms. The operator tried to make contact with the small slots in the side of the dumpster, but he missed. He backed up and approached again, and missed. At this point I began to laugh. He backed up again, and yep, missed again. And then finally the mechanical arms made contact with the slots, the truck precariously lifted waste into it’s bin, and then returned the dumpster to the ground.
So why has this odd yet ordinary occurrence rummaged in my mind for days? I guess it’s a God thing, because I normally don’t contemplate garbage trucks. But I just couldn’t escape this thought…
loving with disconnected arms…
Perhaps it was the sweet children I visited with the day before who were deeply grieving a loss I could never understand. Children seeking unconditional love from a system that cannot provide.
Maybe it’s the way I see myself loving others. Always reaching towards this or that. Wanting to provide even the tiniest bit of relief so those I care for can breath just a little bit easier. But like the truck…I approach a burdensome load, and more often than I would like to admit, I miss.
Maybe it’s the way I feel loved. People caring for me. Loving me with all they have. Loving me as unconditionally as is possible for a human to love. Yet there’s always a small sense of detachment.
And when I step back and think about it, we all love with less than adequate/accurate arms.
We are like the awkward garbage truck, seeking to make contact. Trying to fit our arms into the small windows of opportunity where we could actually connect with the fullness of a heart. Yet we miss…again and again. Our approach is often sloppy and even if we do make contact we rarely have stamina to sustain the lift. Not for lack of effort, but simply because we only have so much horsepower to give.
But Jesus is different. He connects each and every time.
In the places we feel hopelessly alone, He has already noticed. He doesn’t miss a thing. His arms are not cold and mechanical. They aren’t operated by anything less than perfection. His embrace is warm and loving. Directly connected. Ever present. All sustaining.
If we do anything for others, anything at all, perhaps our biggest job is to stop trying to approach and empty their garbage. Instead we could lead them to the one who says I am okay with your garbage just as it is. The one who says you and your baggage are well with me, and when you feel safe enough, we will pick it up together and let it go. With real arms. Whole arms. Attached to an unconditionally loving heart.
“There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:26-27a