Working for the Gardening Department at Ambassador College, was not a glamorous job. However, as a young man and inexperienced I knew this job would not be forever. Nevertheless, even a short stay at a job can seem like an eternity, especially when the craziness seemed like it would never end…
The crew I was working with had just finished a beautiful landscape job between two main buildings on campus. For several weeks, the job site was a mess with construction materials and equipment everywhere. It may have looked to the untrained eye as chaos, but it was not. Almost, like it happened over night, it suddenly all came into focus and we were finished. We all stood back to admire another beautiful job well done! The men I worked with took great pride in the jobs and it showed. All the plants, shrubs, and ground cover were place in a most eye-appealing manner.
Several days later, I happened to walk by this area on my way to another location. Now, what is this taking place, and what is going on? It was just a couple of days ago we finished the landscaping. Now the construction crew had just arrived. I was extremely curious about what they were doing there. Since I was familiar with the supervisor, I stopped and asked him what the work order called for. He informed me they were there to put in a sidewalk. I thought to myself, surely not through the new landscaping! Unfortunately, as it turned out, they were there to tear up about 1/3 of the new landscaping to put in a sidewalk.
I must admit when the crew was finished, their workmanship was excellent!
Several days later, we returned and re-landscaped the area, and as we expected, even though they tried, they left quite a mess. There were plants that were twisted and turned in every odd and non-symmetrical direction. Once again, we made it beautiful.
Sad and unfortunate as it was, that is not where it ended. The sidewalk was finished within a couple of days, and the concrete was setting up and was beginning to cure. The color of the concrete was changing from a dull gray to a brilliant white. When, of all things; the plumbing crew arrived on the scene with their jackhammers and a backhoe. They were there to tear up the sidewalk to put in some additional plumbing…..more clean up for us and re-landscaping once again!
I found this chaos very troubling and a waste of tithe payers’ money, and boy did we ever pay! I decided to investigate and discretely ask some questions about operational policies. I was not looking for a fight or to ridicule, I just wanted to know if I could to anything to help solve the problem. The questions turned out to be very embarrassing. I inadvertently stepped on some dangerous and powerful toes. Mind you, it was not intentional, just the naivety of youth. I had opened, foolishly, Pandora’s Box, and what was to follow left me breathless and gasping…
The end result of the inquiry; I found myself with the task of spraying hundreds and hundreds of gallons of liquid fish fertilizer! This was not the deodorized version you would buy at your local garden supply store. This was the real thing, freshly ground and rotting fish guts in a putrefied liquid state, and it was completely un-deodorized. The smell was horrific beyond description! No one wanted to be within a city block of the spraying because of the smell.
I sprayed everything that grows on and around the 40 acres of lawn including bushes, shrubs and trees. Pity the poor student that tried to take a short cut across the lawn (this was against college policy, no one was allowed to walk on the grass, the only exception was the grounds workers); if I was near, they were in serious trouble. Actually, I rather liked moving targets!
It was a nasty job, and someone had to do it. ME AND MY BIG MOUTH, wish I had kept it shut! I do not think you can even begin to imagine the awful, foul smell of rotted fish guts. The smell was so putrid that I actually lost my lunch a couple of times just mixing the stuff, oh well, more fertilizer for the lawns.
I thought to myself, there must be a way to resolve this problem. Then a bit of inspiration came…it just might work. If ministers were so powerful, perhaps they held the key to get me out of this mess. No, I did not ask them for help, I knew better than that. What I did do was simply to spray with vigor and enthusiasm the areas I knew they would be walking. It did not help, they finally reached the breaking point; several of them picked up rocks threw them at me, not to hurt me but to run me off. Undeterred I sprayed more vigorously. I must admit, there were a couple of oopses along the way; I got just a little too close. It is amazing what the horrible, smelly stuff does to a pair of highly polished black leather dress shoes when they walk through the freshly sprayed fertilizer that I over sprayed onto the sidewall.
Seemingly, that was not enough to cause a change in the spraying program. I decided to formulate a new approach. For this new plan to work, timing was of the utmost importance if I was going to pull this off. Therefore, I studied the walking habits, and the class schedules of two of the meanest and most powerful ministers on campus.
I needed to determine if my plan would work well enough for me to justify putting my job at risk. And not just my job; failure would mean being fired and put out of the church, and a loss of my salvation (at least they thought they had that much power, and authority over our lives (at the time so did I)). A miscalculation could cost me everything. Still I felt it was worth the risk.
First, a little bit of background information: The sprayer I used was mounted on a truck. The tank held over 100 gallons of fish fertilizer. Attached to the tank was a hose on a reel. The hose itself wound around it, if completely un-reeled the hose would stretch about 150 feet. However, I never used more than 100 feet at a time because in that last 50 feet the hose had a bubble, about 4 or 5 inches long; the inner core was rupturing, which always had the potential of breaking. Therefore, I kept it contained on the reel where the pressure from the hose around it kept it from bursting. I complained many times, about the problem and asked to have the hose either repaired or replaced. My boss shelved this concern for the moment, and that was ok. I just wanted them to know there was a potential problem. As it turned out, the denial of repairing the hose was now going to work to my advantage, as you will soon read.
One very hot day in June I decided to put my plan of redemption to work. I sprayed the lawn near where I knew the ministers would be walking that afternoon. Only this time I pulled the hose completely out. This placed me 150 feet from the walkway. I should mention that I parked the truck so the hose had to cross the walkway, and the bubble in the hose was now 5 feet from the edge.
Normally I set the sprayer pressure at about 100 psi. Nevertheless, for the plan to work, I increased the pressure to over 300 psi. As long as I kept spraying, I knew everything would be fine…now here is where it gets interesting. The two ministers were on time, right to the second. Now for the next part of the plan to succeed perfect timing was of the essence. When they were within 20 feet of the hose, I shut the spray nozzle off causing the pressure inside the hose to immediately and rapidly build. They were now about 5 feet from the hose and the bubble. As they approached the hose going across the sidewalk, the bubble reached a point to where it was now close to bursting.
Then it happened. There was a loud pop and the men turned in the direction of the pop. Then there was this weird hissing sound, just like a snake, and fish fertilizer sprayed 10 feet into the air and in every direction catching the men right in the face. They caught the full fury of the spray and it covered the two men head to foot in the foulest smelling liquid imaginable. What followed next was their screams and foul and unholy language that spewed from their mouths. It was almost as foul as the fish fertilizer smelled. I hurried as quickly as I could to shut the sprayer off, well maybe not as fast as I could have.
Did they ever stink! And their attitude was almost as rank! In many ways it reminded me of the polluted stuff they spewed out at us from the pulpit.
No, I was not fired, they could not prove anything. It just looked like an unfortunate accident.
Amazingly enough, the fish program was canceled that same after noon, and I was reassigned to a new task to find a better way to keep the campus green. The decree came down; no more fish-fertilizer was used on the campus. Praise the Lord for the authority of the ministry, they took the bait and it got me off the hook.
Actually while the fish fertilizer smelled horrifically bad, nothing is fouler smelling to God than a pompous and arrogant attitude of superiority that all too many ministers exhibited. They always made us feel insecure and doubting our relationship with God.
No minister, no matter how self-important, talented or gifted has the power or authority to take away salvation.
To understand why this is true you need to know the One that does have your salvation in the palm of His hands. Jesus as Savior cannot lie, when He says He will NEVER leave or FORSAKE you, you can trust Him and take Him at His word.
As a Christian, you are safe and secure because salvation does not depend on what you do. Real security is all about what He did at the cross. His death for sins, His burial and His resurrection makes it possible for Him to give us the precious gift of His resurrected and eternal life. Now isn’t that amazingly powerful?!