Burying Toxic Things

I know it sounds like a very 'romantic' place, but the 'Love Canal' in Niagara Falls, New York...well...just isn't! In fact, 'romance' is the very last thing you'll ever find in the place; and 'love' is not part of the equation either.

For the last sixty years or so, the entire district around the 'Love Canal' has been a rather dangerous, unhealthy place to live.

In reality, we're talking about an old abandoned canal project that was started by a man named William T. Love. 

Names can be deceiving, can't they?

I don't remember reading just why the project was abandoned, but many years after it was, the old canal was chosen to be the most convenient place to dump toxic waste from one of the local factories. 

Back when this practice began, no one thought much about it. Even as late as the 1950's, Americans everywhere believed that the best way to get rid of toxic waste was just to 'bury' it and cover it up. 

And so the city of Niagara Falls gave permission to the Hooker Chemical Company to plaster up the sides of the old abandoned canal, dump thousands of tons of toxic liquid waste into it, and then just cover it over with dirt.  

Can you imagine? What you don't see can't hurt you, right? Problem solved!

Well, not quite. Twenty years later, the 'Love Canal' district of Niagara Falls, New York, became notorious for its dying vegetation, contaminated water table, an astonishing number of strange illnesses and deformities, and a black toxic 'blob' that would come oozing through the basement walls of almost every home in town like something out of a cheap sci-fi B-movie.

You know? They say that it was the 'Love Canal Disaster' that taught Americans a lesson we've never forgotten: You cannot 'bury' toxic things. Bury it now and it will come back later; bury it deep and it will rise to the surface, and it will be just as toxic and corrosive as it was in the beginning! 

Americans have done pretty well, learning this lesson over the years; at least with the obvious, run-of-the-mill 'toxic' things anyway. Or, I guess I should say "run-off" from the mill!

But there are other 'toxic' things in life that we aren't doing so well with; and none more 'toxic' than the bitterness of an unforgiving heart. 

Try your best to 'bury' it; 'submerge' it: a bitter heart will one day rise to the surface surely enough. Justify it, dismiss it, do your best to put it 'behind' you, but it will be there all the same: contaminating, corroding and discoloring everything you say and do!

Our wonderful Bible knows this, of course. It teaches us how to deal with this issue and, believe me, 'burying it' is not part of the plan! I am amazed at the incredible wisdom of God's Word. It has been teaching us this for 2000 years! We didn't need to wait 'til the 1950's to learn this important principle: that you cannot ignore, submerge or bury the pain of past offenses or the bitterness of an unforgiving heart. It must be exposed, confronted, dealt with. 

Forgiveness is the ultimate answer. The only real answer. 

Here is news for some: the Bible presents 'forgiveness'—not 'justice'; not 'retribution'— as the ultimate solution to the hurts and injustices of the past. In the end, forgiveness is the only real solution for the bitteness inside! Isn't that interesting? We're always thrilled whenever there is justice or retribution—until it falls on us of course. But the 'bitterness' over all we've endured? Only forgiveness takes that away! 

Here are five things that forgiving can do for you. How blessed if you can take them to heart, dear ones!

1. Forgiving lifts a burden and frees the heart from bitterness. In the Scriptures we are told to "get rid of all bitterness" Eph 4: 31. Forgiving is the only way it will happen. 

And did you know this incredible thing?

2. Forgiving overcomes evil! When we fill our hearts with vengeance and rage, we only compound the evils of this world. Worse yet, we allow the evil to 'overcome us'. But—oh!—if we can forgive! "Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom 12:21

3. Forgiveness cleanses your memory. Oh, wouldn't this be nice? To get rid of the old toxic 'record' of wrongs? Don't you get tired of that old thing? That's precisely what happens when the Christian forgives. "Love keeps no record of wrongs", we read of the truly loving and forgiving Christian. 1 Cor 13:5 And without that tired old caustic 'record', what liberty of mind and joy of heart is yours! 

4. Forgiving makes you like Christ. "Father, forgive them! They know not what they do." Lk 23:34 Those remarkable words that Jesus prayed for the very ones who nailed Him to the cross! And when you forgive—oh, your likeness to Him is just stunning, dear Christian!  

And finally, the clincher...

5. Forgiving keeps you forgiven. Who among us doesn't need forgiveness? Where would we be right now if our Savior hadn't forgiven us? Jesus frequently warned us of this: "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Lk 6: 37 "For if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive yours." Mt 6: 15

I remember reading about something that happened one day when John Wesley was travelling on his way to Georgia. He was traveling by stage coach, on his way to a preaching engagement; and passengering with him was none other than the great James Oglethorpe, famous British General and, actually, the founder of Colony of Georgia. 

And at one point, during the journey, the conversation turned to the subject of a man whom Oglethorpe hated; who had treated him treacherously and done him much harm. When the conversaton shifted to the possibility of forgiveness, Oglethorpe proudly proclaimed his life's creed: "Oh, I never forgive. No sir! I never forgive and I never forget." 

There was a brief pause, while that was being absorbed, and then Wesley was heard quietly to say: "Well, then, I must hope that you also will never sin." Wesley knew his Bible well, didn't he? 

See you Sunday!                                      RAS

Greater With the Wreckage
You Who Know the Way