Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
A number of years ago, a friend of mine shared some insider information with me about an industry that touches all of our lives. He would never have encouraged the resume-enhancing title of sanitation engineer; he would say, however, that he drove a garbage truck.
My friend confided in me the not well-known industry secret by which he could occasionally leave work early. I was not sworn to secrecy but names will not be given in the interest of protecting my source. The secret was deceptively simple: he reversed his route. The psychology behind this was straight-forward: people become accustomed to what time the truck comes and do not put out their cans. No cans meant fewer stops and fewer stops translated into a shorter day.
Now you could suppose, armed with that understanding, I would never fall victim to the reverse route strategy. But my complacency came back to bite me a couple of weeks ago when the recycle truck, which always comes hours, or even as much as a day late, nearly followed the regular garbage truck. I was caught with a whole month’s worth of recycling.
While the thought of dashing in front of the oncoming truck occurred to me, I also was reminded of the fact I do not move as quickly as in times past and the truck seemed to be increasing speed. I can almost hear the collective sighs of shared grief and concern as I write. After the experience of “I should have known better,” I could not help but think about the more important things I could miss as I go through life because of complacency or false assumptions.
The writer of Hebrews says it so simply it is difficult to misunderstand. “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Heb 9:27&28 NIV.
The statistics are well verified that death has a 100-percent probability of happening to all of us. So the question is not so much “if” or even “when,” but rather so what? Using “reverse schedule” analogy, the famous atheist Richard Dawkins might say there is not even a truck; there is no God so there cannot be a judgment.
I know Dawkins has now had adequate time to review his perception of God. But I was reminded of an incident from February 2012. Dawkins was featured in a live radio dialogue/debate with Giles Fraser a priest of the Church of England. Dawkins offered “proof” of the declining influence of Christianity by citing his research that nearly two thirds of the people surveyed could not name the first book of the New Testament.
Fraser then asked Dawkins if he could name the full title of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” After much stumbling and stammering, Dawkins could not name the full title and finally blurted out “Oh God.” I don’t pretend to know eternal decisions of Dawkins, but for me, I am sure of this: the truck is coming and if you are reading this, there is still time to get the trash out.
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.