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Waste water treatment and Jesus

January 19, 2016

Treating human waste is not an exact science. Generating waste is pretty much very exact in origins, but how to precisely treat that waste lacks much in the way of absolute certainty. We all want the same thing - flush it away and forget it, but the reality is when you are required (and we really only look when required unless you are one of the unusual few that likes that kind of stuff. Actually I know an engineer who helped build a wastewater system for a camp I worked at and he is a really cool guy who does this kind of work to try and make the earth a better place to live. Over time I had the opportunity to have a bit more than a professional relationship with this man and on occasion talked with him about Jesus - but he always got stuck on the all have sinned part. He is a really good guy and does stuff like work in underdeveloped countries to try and make their lives better through his expertise - but didn't Jesus say something like, "what does good have to do with it?" to those stuck on things of this world. That was a long parenthesis so you may need to go back to the beginning to pick up the sentence) to look a little closer the waste seems to have more long term ramifications. What's interesting is that often we can move on oblivious to such facts.

At a camp I worked at years ago we built a wastewater treatment plant and it was always an adventure. We didn’t just flush and forget; we dealt with it every day! Things happen and everyone from the engineers on down had theories on how and why. Change the flow here; change the level there, pumps that are too strong, leach fields that clog, geo-flow systems that are too wet. It went on and on. The waste kept coming with little to no effort on our part, but treating that waste took way too much time and effort. I often thought the saying should be modified to there is more than one way to skin a cat and treat your sewage.

This is kind of a big jump but it is kind of that way in ministry. As human beings making the messes that junk up our lives takes little effort compared to what is required to treat the mess. There is a perfect solution in Jesus Christ, but the treatment process here on earth is not an exact science. AKA, ministry is not an exact science. Too many variables. It is what is hard about ministry and it is what is wonderful about our God. We are all different, we all have different talents, and we all think we are cleaning things up the right way.

In camping or perhaps youth ministry it often happens like this; you have a troubled youth, you are trying and trying to get through to this youth; you put life on hold, you neglect your family and marriage; you stop eating properly; you move toward sleep deprivation; you scan your twenty plus years of vast expertise in youth ministry and nothing. Then some eighteen year old kid that still has hygiene issues comes along and instantly makes a connection with this troubled youth. Why? Ministry is not an exact science.

My friend, the good engineer, often ended one of his long rabbit trails on the inexact science of treating wastewater with a smile and the profound statement, s____ happens. Like all things that make us smile, there is some truth in that statement. It works in conversation around the treatment plant, but I wouldn't use it with the home group. I suppose in ministry we can all make suggestions on how to treat the waste, and in most cases that seems to work OK, as long as we don't confuse the treatment with the solution

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