Dumpster Diving for Dinner

This story illustrates the price of being Bereans. Back in the fall of 1981, shortly after I got out of the Army, I hitchhiked from Tacoma, WA to the family farm in Langdon, ND. After a long afternoon on the side of the highway in Forsyth, MT, where I failed to get a ride, I decided to try riding the rails. Some friendly workers in the yard pointed out the train that was heading east. I found an open coal hopper and climbed in, but after an hour or so decided it was unsuitable—it was too dirty, and it would get too cold once the train started rolling. It was late in September, and the nights could get nippy. After further searching, I found three cabooses in the middle of the train, which were presumably headed for a maintenance shop somewhere. I settled in the first one and waited for the train to get underway.

Once it started moving early the next morning, the hobos came out of the woodwork. There were more than a dozen. They held a hobo-meeting in one of the cabooses and compared notes. Some of the experienced riders knew the route: which towns the train would stop in, where the stores were, where the apple trees and gardens were, where they could get water, where they could recycle cans and bottles, where there were food pantries, and what days the stores dumped outdated goods into their dumpsters. It was a gold mine of information … for hobos.

One of the men recalled that the Safeway store in the next town would be dumping outdated goods that morning. So when we stopped, the old timers sent several of us young bucks down the tracks supervised by one of the experienced hands. We hit the jackpot. Unopened sausage, bacon, eggs, donuts, sweet rolls, oranges, coffee, orange juice, and chocolate. When we sauntered back into the hobo camp, heavily laden, we discovered that the others had a fire going in a bucket with a fridge grate across the top for toast and sausage and a slab of thin steel for a griddle. We ate until we couldn’t eat another bite.

Now most would be too embarrassed or ashamed to eat out of a dumpster. And I can empathize with their concerns. Nonetheless, this shame is not a God-focused shame, but a man-focused shame. We care about man’s opinion way too much. Not even a hungry belly can move some to part from this man-focused approach to life.

But this story isn’t an end in and of itself. It is presented to illustrate a point. We need to eat good spiritual food and not worry whether or not men appreciate the perceived source. I say perceived source because every point of truth taught by the Bible is rejected by broad swaths of the church, sometimes the majority of the church, as garbage that is unfit for the believer. No matter how many passages you point to and no matter how well-framed the argument, many will sneer at the biblical position and mock those that hold it as spiritual lowlifes who have stooped to eat out of the spiritual dumpster.

Dear readers, be Bereans! Steel yourselves in your hearts that you will not allow anyone’s sneers to turn you away from the plain statements of the Bible—not even godly men in your own church or circle. Bereans stick with the Bible no matter who challenges it. The original Bereans didn’t give anyone a pass, not even the apostle Paul (Acts 17:11). They exalted the word of God above his exceptionally profitable ministry. Let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.

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