On our way home from Cape Breton, we stopped for an unforgettable 2-day visit to the Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire. Although the park is, in general, unforgettably beautiful, the RV park where we stayed could also be classified as "unforgettable", but for less magnanimous reasons. You see, this RV park was lacking in certain things that we have come to expect in an RV park; things like bathrooms, for example. And showers and garbage cans. There wasn't even a campground host, and the park's only view was the view of--a busy parking lot!

The "no garbage can" issue seemed to be one of the easier ones to resolve. We would simply take our trash to a garbage dumpster at one of the nearby attraction. But wait. There didn't appear to be any dumpsters at any of the attractions! In fact, there was a sign that read, "This is a 'Carry in Carry out' park"!

Now I didn't particularly want to hang on to my garbage for another two days, so I searched the parking area at the biggest park attraction once again. Wait. Was that a dumpster at the far end of the lowest parking lot?

Image my astonishment when the dumpster was locked down with four padlocks! It seemed we would have to hang on to our garbage after all...

The lack of bathrooms in the camp meant that the port-a-potty we keep on our tiny trailer for emergencies got a bit more use. This necessitated, of course, that it be dumped before we left the campground; and this RV park actually did have was a dumping station!

Once again, however, I was doomed for disappointment. The dumping station was...locked down with a padlock!

I have never seen a dumping station locked down before, and as I attempted to process what this meant for our trip home, I noticed the sign: "Dumping hours Friday-Sunday from 9-4; Dumping fee $25.00." Quite naturally, it was Thursday; and besides, would I really want to pay $25.00 to dump that tiny thing?

As we left the RV park, I couldn't get the idea of the locked down dumpster and dumping station out of my mind. I mean, why would we be discouraged from getting rid of our garbage? But wait. Though we aren't all campers, we all have a "garbage" problem, don't we? Life in this sinful world produces garbage in abundance: Addictions. Obsessions. Sins that hurt oneself. Sins that hurt others. Sin against God...

The list could go on, but the point is that just like we produce garbage that needs to be thrown out or dumped in a dumping station when we are camping, the garbage produced by our sinful natures also ultimately needs to be removed.

Fortunately, just like there are (usually!) dumpsters and dump stations for our camping wastes, there is also a way to dispose of our sin garbage. When Jesus died on that cruel cross, He took care of our garbage once and for all, wiping our sin-slates completely clean: "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." (Ps. 103:12 NLT).

Unfortunately, we tend to think there are "padlocks" on God's "sin-dumpsters". We seem to feel more justified if we have to "pay" to dump our "sin-port-a-potty". But this isn't God's way. It isn't a "carry in, carry out" kind of operation. God's forgiveness is not "locked down". There are no "grace-padlocks" and no "grace-open hours", for: "God saved you by his grace when you believed." (Eph. 2:8a NLT). And perhaps the best news is that there are also no "grace-dumping fees": "Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done." (Eph. 2:9a NLT); rather, "...you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God." (Eph. 2:8b NLT).

And it's a good thing, too, because all of our own good deeds could never counter all the sin-garbage we produce on a daily basis. Why? Because our good deeds are: "...nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind." (Is. 64:6 NLT).

Instead of seeking the open hours and trying to figure out how to pay the dumping fee, let's, "Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words" (2 Cor. 9:15 NLT)!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Lessons From Cape Breton" mini-series, please click here.)