Last week I discovered that my church’s rubbish vendor was taking us to the cleaners. In the last four years, their price for garbage removal increased from $65 a month to over $170. I found another company that provides the same service for $55 a month. The decision to switch waste removal providers was a no-brainer. Or so I thought.
I called the overpriced trash hauler to discuss cancelling their service. They told me that we had a three-year contract with them signed in August 2011. That contract had automatically renewed after three years so it was now in force until 2017. If we scrapped their service before then, they would charge us a fee of over $650 simply to stop their overpriced service!
On the other hand, they said if we signed another contract, they would reduce our monthly hauling fees back to what it was four years ago.
This kind of business philosophy is utter rubbish. It feels like they hold us hostage with threats of penalties instead of wooing us by good customer service. Their offer to reduce our rates rubbed salt in the wound: why the heck had they more than doubled our fees in less than four years if they could profitably serve us at the old rates? Their proposals littered my inbox.
I was in the mood to do some serious trash talking.
What to do?
I was unhappy with their customer service (aren’t you?) and I immediately put on my old business hat. What options did we have? I thought of at least these four:
- Call back and try to talk some sense into them again, but I didn’t want to hassle the poor customer service rep who was just implementing an unpopular policy made by others.
- Renew the contract at their reduced rate . . . but I really don’t want to do business with a company that creates such junky policies.
- Cancel the service and pay their nonsense-fees. We would break even in a few months and then start saving over $115 a month.
- Or cancel the contract and fight the cancellation fees.
I was in my element, back in the business world, analyzing spreadsheets, listing options, making plans, and planning negotiation strategies.
Then God intervened
I didn’t spend much time on this issue, but: all the time I spent on it was in my own strength (along with a few other members whose advice I sought). It wasn’t a huge burden, and it tickled my fancy to work it out, so I simply acted completely on my natural instincts.
Which is another way of saying, I completely ignored God.
But God didn’t ignore me. Last Sunday morning I read the following,
Even the weakest saint can experience the power of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to “let go.” But any effort to “hang on” to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us.
We have to keep letting go, and slowly, but surely, the great full life of God will invade us, penetrating every part (My Utmost for His Highest, April 12).
You see, the “effort” of battling this issue on my own was small—I was “hanging on” to just a bit of my business experience—but I was still relying on that “least bit of [my] own power.” I may have learned how to let go of big things (I think of God more often in a crisis), but I certainly have not learned to let go of anything that deals with the least bit of my power.
And that means I am diminishing the life of Jesus in me.
Who do we want people to see?
I don’t know which rubbish solution is best and which solution is rubbish, but the “hanging on” process I chose would have the effect of people noticing my strengths. The might see:
- Sam the Negotiator;
- Sam the Analyzer;
- Or Sam the Fighter.
I felt ready for this fight because my years of business taught me negotiation, analyzing, and brawling. But who do I want people to see, me or God? Is my goal in the Christian life to build even more self-acclaim? Oswald Chambers concludes his devotional with:
[When we finally learn to let go] Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him.
That is what the deepest part of me wants: I want people to see the God who is in me; that his presence has changed me; that I no longer carry burdens (even small ones) on my own; that even the smallest of my plans have been changed by the inner presence of God.
Which vendor will we choose? I still don’t know. I still haven’t figured out how to let go of everything. But I know this: whatever acumen I use today will be forgotten in a year, not to mention in eternity.
The only thing that will last is the Christ-dominated heart God is forging inside me.
There’s still a little inner-rubbish I have to take out to the curb, the garbage of my self-identity. That’s okay. Tomorrow is trash day, no matter what it costs.