How far would you go to rescue and recover something of great value to you?  Would you be willing to get your hands dirty?  Would it be worth coming into contact with things that are generally considered to be unpleasant, if not downright nasty, in order to reclaim a prized possession?

Yesterday, I sat for an unexpected exam in which those were the three short-answer questions, and I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder my responses.

I had driven to a local hospital to check in on a couple of friends and fellow church members who were dealing with serious illnesses.  Before I left the house, I had generously lathered my hands with some of Kim’s medicated hand lotion.  Don’t judge me!  For some reason, this winter’s arctic air and nearly constant wind have been particularly rough on my hands, causing some serious dryness and chapping.  The hand lotion sadly plays into the rest of the story.

When I arrived at the hospital, I decided to make a stop in the restroom by the elevators.  Having washed my hands with soap and hot water, I held on to the paper towels so that I could open the restroom door without physically touching it.  I’m generally not overly conscientious about this, and am not what I would consider a germaphobe, but this was a hospital during cold and flu season and it just seemed like the prudent thing to do.

I opened the door, propped it open with my foot, and flung the paper towels downward into the tall, lid-less, nearly full trash can by the door.  Instantly, I realized that the ring on my right hand had accompanied the paper towels into the dismal abyss of waste.  It was a cruel conspiracy between the hand lotion and some remaining soapy moisture on my hand.

The ring which had plummeted into the trash can was a gift from Kim, a silver James Avery “Song of Solomon” ring, inscribed with “My beloved is mine, and I am hers” in Hebrew script.

There was no debate or hesitancy.  I didn’t stop to consider the range of germs or level of nastiness that might inhabit the contents of the garbage can.  I just instinctively went after the ring because of its value to me.  Obviously, I hoped that it might have come to rest on something near the top.  Such was not the case.

I will spare you the gory details of everything that I encountered while emptying the trash can, but my search took me all the way to the bottom.  The weight of the ring, combined with the movement of the contents as I emptied them, had caused it to keep descending until it could go no further.  Great!

However, the joy of recovering the ring was worth all of the effort, unpleasantness, and discomfort!  And yes, I was a good boy and completely reloaded the trash can.  Then I spent several minutes washing and rewashing my hands and just about emptied a dispenser of hand sanitizer out in the hall.

Jesus loved us so much that He came after us.  He pursued us all the way to the bottom of the barrel and found us right at the gates of hell.  He left heavenly glory to dumpster dive through the spiritual cesspool of this world in order to rescue and ransom our souls.  That’s how much He loved and valued us.

Are we willing to do the same for others whom Jesus loves just as much?