Kitchen-Bin Guidance

As I keyboard these words, I can hear the faint sounds of my little granddaughter learning from her mother that she doesn’t really need to climb into the kitchen garbage bin. This is but one of many déjà vu moments my wife and I have savored during our delightful visit to see our family.

I say déjà vu because her daddy — my son — also had to learn the same thing about kitchen garbage bins. So did I. We all had to learn not to climb into the bins, so they had the same allure for all of us. Only the outsides of the bins looked different because home décor has evolved over 50 years.

In my day (that’s a phrase grandfathers use!) the bin was yucky green, with a fascinating pedal that made the lid pop open. When my son was a little boy, he was smitten by the bright colors of cartoon-painted fruit on the can. His own little girl is, at this very moment, enchanted with a bright, shiny, stainless-steel bin that’s bigger than she is, in which she can see her own comically-distorted reflection. A truly wonderful experience!

Three generations of us were lured into kitchen garbage cans by a fascinating, alluring exterior. We were all anxious to climb in, explore and play joyously in what is, in the final analysis, garbage.

Chances are good that much of the garbage that will sully our lives will be wrapped in a professional presentation.

Of course, we were all toddlers when we unthinkingly climbed into the kitchen garbage cans. By the time we’re old enough to have joined the workforce, we’ve outgrown yucky green, cartoon-painted fruit and stainless steel. We understand that toddlers speak, understand and think as toddlers. Then they grow up. They “put away childish things.”

Don’t they? Didn’t we? Yes and yes. But, curiously, kitchen garbage bins have their grown-up echoes from time to time. And sometimes we are as fooled by our fascinations when we are adults every bit as much as we were as toddlers.

Not surprising, really. A spiritually blind world deploys some of its most clever minds to package the garbage of ruinous living in the most alluring ways.

Parents come to know the pressure of designer labels, up-market birthday parties and personal cell-phones early in the life of their children. This is no mystery. Everywhere their kids look and listen, the advertising industry creates dissatisfaction with whatsoever state they’re in, enticing them to spend, spend, spend in the hope of fulfillment in material acquisition.

Garbage, cleverly made plausible.

By the time they’re in the workforce, that urge is by no means abated, craving updated sublimation in luxury cars, best entertainment equipment or living in the “right neighborhood.”

The content and philosophy of our entertainment has all but eradicated the likelihood that our children will be able to discern right from wrong. Today’s promiscuity, desire for instant gratification and completely egocentric thinking are simply the cumulative effect of garbage — cleverly dressed in media magic, airbrushing and great music.

Garbage, cleverly made plausible.

As for spirituality — we’re living in a world that does not like to retain God in its knowledge. As a result, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “a culture as thoroughly secularized as ours can hardly be expected to come up with its own medicine. For the most part, [we] come up with a secularized spirituality, which is no spirituality at all.”

Garbage, cleverly made plausible.

If the ads we’re watching, the magazines and books we’re reading, the lectures we’re attending and the values in which we’re immersing ourselves are consistent with the sound biblical teaching, all well and good.

That’s a big “IF,” though, these days, isn’t it?

Peterson continues: “We ransack exotic cultures and esoteric groups in a search for wholeness; but being new at this and without experience, [we] have no way of discriminating between the true and the false.” And, not by accident, chances are fair to good that much of the garbage that will sully our lives is going to be wrapped in professional presentation using plausible, intellectually stimulating language…yet having originated in the minds and morés of a society that has functionally rejected God.

And, not by accident, chances are fair to good that much of the garbage that will sully our lives is going to be wrapped in professional presentation using plausible, intellectually stimulating language…yet having originated in the minds and morés of a society that has functionally rejected God. Kitchen-Bin Guidance Chances are good that much of the garbage that will sully our lives will be wrapped in a professional presentation.

By the time my little granddaughter encounters this array of grown-up “kitchen-bins,” I hope she will have also acquired the adult Christian skill of “proving all things.” (Pondering this stuff is what grandfathers do!)

In a world that is ignorant of God’s love and flounders without a moral and spiritual rudder, is there reason to hope that she’ll be able to hold fast to the good and reject what is, in the final analysis, garbage?

On reflection, despite the many fascinations of yucky green, cartoon fruit and stainless steel, I think there is reason to hope. Although she’ll certainly encounter these, she will not be completely at their mercy.

At this very moment, her mother is helping her out lovingly in the matter of the kitchen bin. There’s a lot more, though. Day by day, thanks to her Mom and Dad, she’s also learning about Jesus Christ, the perfect reflection of the God who loves her and will always be with her to help her see through the false allure of life’s garbage.

Grandparents everywhere have their apprehensions about what lies ahead for their precious little toddlers.

That’s why we’re teaching our little one about the great God whose goodness, faithfulness and unceasing love will never leave her, no matter how alluringly life’s moral and spiritual dangers may present themselves.

Kerry Gubb
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