My fine town offers a very convenient service - bulk pickup. Every other week, in addition to normal trash pickup, they send another truck by to get items that won't fit in your trash can, such as brush, bags of leaves, and boxes.
For the past few weeks, we've had a treadmill that we've been trying to decide what to do with. Believe it or not, this was not a dusty, under-used treadmill, but a thoroughly worn out one. Over the past 7 years, we actually wore a hole in the belt and the engine was basically defunct. It was clearly time for it to go, but where? What do you do with a treadmill?
For the first couple of weeks, I honestly couldn't think of any good options, because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the trash company would never take a treadmill. As I was driving home one night, though, I saw the curbside evidence throughout the neighborhood that bulk pickup day was just around the corner. The thought slowly crossed my mind, "Maybe they would take a treadmill!" That was followed seconds later with, "Never going to happen my friend." **
The next morning, I finally gave in. I called the trash company and asked, "Would you pick-up a treadmill?"
"Sure," they said.
"Like a real treadmill? Over 5 feet long? Heavy? Lots of metal?"
I couldn't believe it. This was great news! I moved it out of our house and down to the curb (wheels are cool). But as I stood looking at it, so proud of this solution, the thought hit me - this looks awful. Can you imagine driving through a neighborhood and someone has a treadmill sitting by the curb? How embarrassing. I actually thought about moving it back until the last possible minute, so most of our neighbors wouldn't see it, but it was too much work.
When I came home later that day, it was gone! All that was left was the green grass next to the curb. If you timed it right, you never would have seen it at all.
And that's when it hit me.
This bulk pickup thing is exactly what it feels like when you've messed up. Not just a little mess up, but something you'd never want to say out loud. Have you ever done something and you thought, "There's no way God can forgive me for this. I mean, this isn't just your run-of-the-mill slip-up. This is big time. If my neighbors knew about it, I could never look them in the eye again."
And you go on for weeks and weeks, wondering what to do with this thing you're carrying around with you, sure that you're past the point of no return. And finally, one day, you give up and say, "God, can you forgive me?"
And He says, "Sure."
And you say, "But did you hear what it is? This is big...heavy...a real mess."
And it's gone, as if it was never there.
** Bonus points to the reader who recognizes the pop culture reference.