Sodom, Ninevah, and the Stupid DumpTruck!

March 2, 2007

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I remember my seventh birthday like it was yesterday. Being the oldest in a large family (5 bros. 2sis) parties were few and far between , but I had a doozie that year. I remember several things that happened. First I recall being at a table with four or five other kids on the front porch of the parsonage where we lived (although we were Church of Christ so I guess they called it a preacher’s home) wearing a paper party hat and opening presents.


One particularly eager young man thrust his present into my hands and insisted it be opened next, strike one! Now, we had just moved to this town and I have no idea who the boy was. If by some strange twist of providence he is reading this now, let me apologize before I go any further. What you are about to see in no way represents how my parents had raised me, this was something I chose all on my home, man I wish I could undo it!


I remember that it was one of the smallest gifts on the table and it was wrapped in what looked like to me at the time “baby paper”, strike two! I proceeded to unwrap the gift. Now at this point I should probably let you know that I was one of those obnoxious breed of children who, having developed language skills early felt that I was somehow smarter than everyone else because I could talk circles around them, and didn’t need to go to the Jr section to pick out my library books. Anyway here’s what happened.


I opened the package and held in my hand a small, baby blue and white Buddy L dump truck. I remember an icy glare descending over my face and I turned to my mother and said words I have never been able to forget, (partly because my brothers remind me of it every chance they get) A DUMPTRUCK? I DIDN”T WANT A  STUPID DUMPTRUCK!, Strike three!


My memory of the events that unfolded next are somewhat hazy, no doubt blocked by the same function that allows us to survive floods, fires and famine with only the good memories intact, but my first sensation was being lifted bodily from my chair and I am sure I returned moments later very remorseful, setting my bottom gingerly into the seat. I do recall the young man’s bewildered expression, I am quite sure he didn’t realize that I was far too “sophisticated” to appreciate his simplistic gift.


That dump truck stayed with me into high school! It became one of my favorite toys and sat on my desk to remind me of the worst birthday party in the history of the world! (My fault admittedly, but it still sucked and there was a lot more, maybe I will write a follow up to this)


Recently I have been made aware of several “dump trucks” that God has deposited in my life. Prayers that I thought went unanswered because the answers came in small oddly wrapped packages, not at all the grand revelations and earth shattering events that I had been fervently believing for. I have often pondered the paradox of Abraham and Jonah in regards to things like this. Both men on a hill overlooking a city about to be destroyed.


Jonah, having just preached to the people of Ninevah for three days, is awaiting fire form heaven which never comes because the people took his first choice and repented. Nowadays he could have a three book deal two years of speaking engagements and a contract on the movie rights by noon the next day, instead he gets mad and says stuff like, why me? Why does Elijah get to call down fire from heaven but when I try it everyone just repents! (don’t know if he knew Elijah but if he did he’d be jealous) So what does God do? He rushes right down, pats him on the back and says there, there, you’re special to me too, just in…different ways, right? No he says tough luck, get over it,  and oh ,by the way, I’m sending a worm to kill your shade tree!


Abraham on the other hand is gambling with God, If I can find ten righteous  men, will you spare Sodom and
Gomorrah? Uh, sure why not? Well, maybe not ten, but five, there’s gotta be five! Okay Abraham but I wouldn’t do it for just anyb…. Wait! One! Just one??!! Well as you probably know there wasn’t one, God destroyed the city with something called fire and brimstone. (and we complain when we have a little hail storm) and Abraham still goes down in history as a giant in the category of faith.


In my analysis I more frequently come down rather closer to Jonah than I am entirely comfortable with. I find myself whining all too often “A DUMPTRUCK? I DON’T WANT A STUPID DUMP TRUCK!” God says , Don’t worry about it, just let me know what you need, be sure to say thank you and I’ll throw in a little peace in your heart to sweeten the deal! (or something like that) So the next time God sends you a dump truck when you were praying for a Hummer, say thank you. He just wants us to be grateful, now, that’s not so hard is it?



  1. nice post bro, but i gotta say if I was that little kid then, I’d punched you in the face and taken the dump truck back… or cried…hmm not quite sure… but good post!

  2. Better than getting socks!

  3. Gifts… speaking of which, you have apparently been given the gift of expressing yourself very well with the written word. *insert smiley here*

    Your story struck a chord with me as I had a similar experience. Difference being, I was in my 40’s at the time and didn’t verbally express my disappointment for the Post-it notes that I received at a ladies’ Christmas banquet. I sat there with that approximately 3″ stack of multi-colored papers in my hand as I watched all the other ladies ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their pretty what-nots and delicious homemade goodies that they had received. But I did thank the lady for the gift and slipped it into my purse, later expressing my disappointment to my husband when I returned home and placed the Post-it notes on the counter by the phone. Little did I realize at the time that this gift would become one of life’s lessons. We used it almost daily! On those square bits of tacky paper we wrote little reminder notes, phone numbers, shopping lists, notes to one another, and who-all know what else over a period of about a year. And every time I used one I would be reminded… what a really useful gift! I was thankful for receiving it, and actually a bit saddened when I reached that last slip of paper from the stack. I think it was pink. 😉

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