A Cowboy’s Faith: Usefulness outweighs wastefulness

buchmanhead“I don’t want any more junk. I keep throwing stuff away, and there’s always more.”

An outdoors-type, mustachioed, gray-haired fella politely refused our prodding to “spin the wheel and win a prize,” when we were manning a boat show booth.

Likely no more mature than we, the rugged gentleman added, “I had to sort out my folks’ clutter when they passed. I don’t want to put my kids through that.”

Quite the contrast to most everyone else who was anxious to step right up and claim their “everyone’s a winner” trinkets we were giving away.

It’s fun to see the winners’ smiles, especially little ones’ thrills selecting from a dozen or so giveaways, yet that wise man’s comments reflected most.

Especially, as we continued sorting lifelong ranch accumulations, many three-pound-coffee cans of rusted, bent nails, bolts, nuts, hardened-paintbrushes, short 2x4s, broken boards, rotten plywood, holey, handleless buckets and what not.

“Are we a hoarder, or are we being wasteful?” Likely there’d be different take on the question depending who asked.

Certainly Uncle Elmer, were he alive, would think we were throwing away useful things. Elmer grew up with little and was thrifty throughout his lifetime, even after retiring from a city job that was good for the times.

A Goodwill Store regular, he’d bring others’ worthless for our farm use. Elmer’s twice-a-week hauling grocery store trash to the dump, he’d generally return with another’s throwaways Elmer considered useable.

Our quarter-acre garbage-fed hog pens were cobbled together with flooring, siding and other throwaway boards collected, sawed by hand, and we well remember Elmer’s biggest, strongest-grip hands straightening salvaged nails to build those fences.

So, we have a definite guilty feeling as we throw away what would have been of certain value to earlier generations.

Added to dilemma, our conservative attitude, obviously from upbringing, to point of considered tightwad by many. After decades saving “we’ll need it someday,” worthless is in the dump. We’ll buy what we need, or do without.

Reminds us of Luke 12:21: “One who stores up and hoards possession is not rich,” because James 5:1: “To hoard is misuse of resources.” So, Ephesians 5:15: “Don’t waste time on uselessness,” as Matthew 26:8 “It is such a waste of time and money.” Then, Second Chronicles 28:23: “Keep what is useful, and valuable for all.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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