Monday, November 21, 2011

That Poor Yellow Barrel that Would Have Been...

Once upon a time there was a bright yellow barrel. This barrel wasn't any more special than any other barrel. In fact, he looked exactly the same as all the other barrels being sent out by the hundreds. Each one may have had a different destination, but all of them had the same purpose: to hold trash. That's right; this barrel was a trash barrel. A very big barrel. A very bright barrel. But still created for the humble purpose of holding trash.

Then he arrived at his destination, the City Rescue Mission of Lansing, and something amazing happened. Instead of hauling him out back and lining the inside with a plastic bag, he was gently carried inside, fitted with a set of wheels, and--wonder of wonders--given two shiny new signs. One on the front and another, just like it, on the back. And these shiny signs had a great message: Jesus Saves. They had two great messages, actually, for the second said, "Help us help others." That's how the barrel knew he wasn't just any yellow barrel. He was a special barrel after all, because inside was going to be things people could use. Things people would care for. Things people needed.

Included on the signs were a telephone number and, just in case the barrel should get lost, an address. How happy the barrel was to be something special after all. Proudly puffing out his chest (which didn't make much of a difference because barrels are all round any way), he showed off the signs as badges of honor. When the men came and loaded the barrel into the van, he knew he was on his way to do great things.

Sadly, the poor barrel, that would have been something special, never got to reach his potential. The company that called and asked for the barrel to collect non-perishable food items to help people...well...they changed their mind. And when the Mission called to ask how the barrel was doing, they could never get an answer.

Finally, the man in charge of the barrels came to the company and asked just what happened to the yellow barrel. And, after he explained just what the barrel looked like, some men wheeled up the yellow barrel from the back. Only now the yellow barrel was scratched. He was cut and covered with glue. And his signs, his badges of honor that meant he was to be for something special? They'd cut them off, leaving the rivets like scars, and filled the yellow barrel full of trash.

All the people at the Mission were shocked and saddened to see what had happened to the once-bright yellow barrel. And they were so grateful to the many other companies who ask for Mission barrels and recognize them for what they truly are, something special. And those other companies work hard to fill those barrels with things that people can use, things they care for, things that are needed.

Because those "things" do make a difference. They help us show men, women, and children (who sometimes feel damaged and unwanted) that they really can be something special after all. That they have the potential to be and to do great things.

Thank you for being a rescuer. Thank you for helping us help others. And thanks for being kind to our yellow barrels, that carry a special message of hope, and love, and rescue, to those in need.