Ragpickers

By John Ballinger

April 20, 2015

It’s Spring Cleanup Time in Ashland and what that means for our usually quiet street is an almost continuous string of traffic. People come in random cars and station wagons and trucks and even Amish buggies to search for treasure—or at least they see it as treasure. To us in the neighborhood, it is the opportunity to get rid of stuff that has been cluttering up the house and garage. The annual cleanup event is one of the great definers of the phrase “One man’s trash in another man’s treasure.”

 For instance, for the last few months, I have been babying along our gas grill, cobbling it together as best I could to make it last a bit longer. We finally decided to break down and get a new one so to the curb went our faithful grill. It lasted less than 10 minutes before some people loaded it onto a pickup and hauled it away. If it puts some cash in their pocket, then they have definitely earned it with all the work it takes to scavenge other people’s trash. If they find a new use for it, even better.

 One of my favorite books is titled “The Greatest Miracle in the World” by Og Mandino. This wonderfully touching fictional story tells of a businessman who meets an old man who shares his wisdom of how to become all God had created him to be.

 How does this tie into the story of spring cleanup of Ashland? The old man calls himself a ragpicker. This is in reference to someone who goes about a neighborhood and picks up trash to turn into treasure, finding something valuable in it that others had missed. The old man, Simon, explains that his mission is to rescue those human beings who have found themselves on the trash pile of society and remind them of their value to the world. As part of the story, he encourages the businessman—and thus the reader—to join him in this quest to be a ragpicker of humans, to help others find their worth in the world.

 The story is a great analogy of how we as followers of Jesus Christ are called to be ragpickers. If we are to follow in the footsteps of our savior, then we have been called to the mission of finding those who have been tossed onto the human trash pile and remind them they are special in the eyes of God. Jesus gave us the best example in his ministry; it did not consist of the religious officials and important people of government but instead he spent his time with tax collectors, prostitutes, and poor fishermen—the trash heap of that world.

Today, we have the same challenge. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to see the world differently than it sees itself—to characterize success and value occurring to God’s definition; to see each person we meet as a unique creation of God. The psalmist knew of God’s plan and the value of every human being when he wrote these words:

 

For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,  I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

 

 God made each of us unique and it is our mission as Christians to show others how special they are in the eyes of God. We who have already discovered our worth in God are to be the ragpickers of the world; to follow the example of our leader to bring value to those who feel valueless. I encourage you today to find treasure in what the world considers trash—take up the role of finding treasure in others so that they might find their worth in the eyes of the loving God who created them.

 

Keywords: psalms
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