It was hard to believe we had already been in these beautiful mountains for six nights. We had been told that there was no mountain range in the world that compared to the Canadian Rockies, and though our repertoire of mountains is limited, these were definitely the most majestic we had experienced!

It was also hard to believe it had been 3 days since my last shower. Sad to admit, but true. One thing we noticed immediately upon our arrival in Banff was that though the days were warm and pleasant, the nightly temperatures often dipped down towards the freezing mark, even now, in August. Somehow, making that trek to the campground showers when it was only 2ºC. Just wasn't very appealing! But it was time. In fact, it was long past time.

I still might have talked myself out of it, however. I was using every good reason in the book to NOT go, but I couldn't completely shake off the little voice in my mind that continually pestered me with: "Go take a shower!" I recognized it as the voice of my best Friend. Nevertheless I continued to argue: "But I can take one tonight! It's too cold!" He was relentless however: "Go take a shower. NOW!!!"

Eventually I gave in, and when I did, I noticed that the sun had actually come out. I could even feel a tiny hint of warmth as I gathered up my things. In fact, as I approached the shower building, I couldn't help but notice the sun's rays reflecting off the top of the bear-proof garbage dumpster in front of the washrooms, about 3 trailer lengths from where we were camped. As warm sunshine often does, it seemed to be causing mist to rise from the lid.

For some reason this fascinated me. For one thing, it really didn't seem warm enough for all that much mist to be rising. For another, there wasn't mist rising from the metal tops of the many trailers in the area. And as I approached the dumpster, I realized that the "mist" was rising from all over the dumpster, not just from the lid. In fact, this "mist" was pouring out of each and every seam!

This wasn't mist at all! It was smoke!

Now I'm no dumpster expert, but since smoking isn't good for anyone's health, I instinctively knew this dumpster shouldn't be smoking! "Do you have a phone?" I yelled to the camper across the road.

"No!" He answered, obviously surprised by my question. Or maybe it was by the panic he heard in my voice. "Why?"

"The garbage can is on fire!" I cried.

He immediately went into action, searching through his trailer for a water hose.

This was good. But I also needed to inform the rangers, and since my husband was gone with the van, and subsequently, my cell phone, I had no way to do so. Unless I ran to the main office, 1 km from where we stood. But that would take time. Too much time. "Do you have a phone!" I yelled to the next camper in line. "We need to call the ranger! The garbage can is on fire!"

"No!" He answered, but he, too, came over to investigate.

I repeated this question three or four times, but always with the same results. No one had a cell phone. But with the first two campers I had informed still busily trying to get a water hose, and the other campers obviously not overly interested in the problem, there was nothing for me to do but to run for the main office.

Someone must have eventually routed out a cell phone, because the rangers were grabbing a fire extinguisher and running for their truck just as I arrived. They were kind enough to give me a ride, and we got back to the dumpster in time to see water oozing from each of its seams. The camper had obviously found his hose and had succeeded in dousing the fire.

"These woods are still pretty dry," commented the ranger.

I knew what that meant. Had the fire gotten out of the dumpster, there was a good chance of a forest fire. And that would have meant my trailer!

"Somebody probably threw burning charcoal into the dumpster," replied the other ranger.

"Charcoal?" I echoed.

"Yes, it's amazing what people will do!"

"And the perpetrator is probably standing by watching all of this," interjected the first.

I shook my head in amazement. How could someone be so ignorant as to throw live coals into a dumpster?

In the end the garbage level in the dumpster was mysteriously lower, but no real harm was done. I still couldn't shake my shock at the idea of someone deliberately doing something that could potentially have caused a forest fire.

Yet isn't it the same in life? Every one of our words and actions can potentially influence others around us. A casual cigarette can show a young child it's cool to smoke. A swear word slips from our lips, and our two-year-old begins using that same word. A moment of anger, a temper lost, a momentary of control, a voice-or worse, a hand-is raised, an ego is bruised, self-esteem is lost, a victim mentality begins to form.

Friends, every action we take has a consequence. This is why we are told to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus: "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2). Only in keeping our eyes upon Jesus will all of our actions be of the kind that will positively affect others.

Don't throw live charcoal in a dumpster. Instead, keep your eyes upon Jesus so that all of your actions will reflect Him. Then and only then will the consequences of each of your interactions serve to build people up instead of tearing them down.

In His love,


Lyn Chaffart, moderator and author, the Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets, , Answers2prayer Ministries, .