I hate taking out the trash. It used to be a whole thing between Rene and me. I know, I get it…how hard is it to take out the trash? But I just didn’t like it. I think the only thing I hated more was mowing.
Here’s the thing about trash: SOMEBODY must take it out. I mean, sure…you can let it sit there, but it takes a special kind of dysfunction to be impervious to an over-spilling trashcan—especially when it stinks. MOST people—even trash–hating–taker–outers like me—cannot stand to live with the filth and stench of a full, overflowing trashcan. There comes a breaking point where the trash MUST GO OUT.
For Rene and me, we just had different breaking points. Hers was at the point before the kitchen trash bag is hard to get out of the trashcan, whereas mine was typically when you could no longer give it the old shove-it-all-down-cram anymore. I mean, I could usually get at least two or three good shoves and get that trash nice and smashed together, where the old fish juices and coffee grinds would leak as you pulled it out, while the bag, bulging at the sides, slowly began to rip away. Rene’s silly logic was that perhaps if we took out the trash when it was three quarters full, maybe the bag wouldn’t rip coming out and we wouldn’t have to clean up an unnecessary mess in the kitchen. (And by “we” she meant “she.”) But I was convinced of two things: One, I was making the trash bag last longer. And I had a decent success rate of getting even a ripped trash bag outside BEFORE it completely came apart.
Let’s be real clear, here: the reality was far more simple than two opposing world philosophies on when exactly you should take out the kitchen trash. The truth is, I am lazy. And I hate taking out the trash.
But if I’m honest, I’m like this spiritually, too. I don’t like to take out the trash in my life.
You know, we’re human, but even if we can walk the best walk with Jesus, or do all the spiritual disciplines almost perfectly, we still have stuff, spiritually, to clean out. We still accumulate garbage in our lives. That’s the truth of it. What we feed ourselves spiritually, what we’re exposed to daily, what we think about, how we struggle, and on and on…there’s no way we can avoid trash getting stuck in our minds. The problem is, we often fail to flush out the trash or in a real sense, take it out. If the mind is the battlefield for a spiritual walk with Christ, somewhere up there is a trash can for the trash. As Christ followers, most of us probably do a pretty good job of throwing out some of the trash that comes in. The question is, do we ever TAKE the trash out?
Romans 12:2 says: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is good, acceptable and perfect.” Renewing isn’t something we do once. “Re” suggests that this is something we should be doing often, even daily. A lot of trash comes into my mind daily. And like my kitchen trash, it doesn’t take much effort or time to walk it out to the big trash containers.
The difference here is that I’m creating space in my mind that can be filled with better things, better thoughts, better ideas from God. When I’m taking out the spiritual trash in my mind, I’m asking the Lord to fill that space with His thoughts. I think, maybe, this is one way Psalm 51:10 works in my own life when I pray: “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right thinking within me.”
We are always going to struggle with our thought life on some level. Some of us, like me, struggle more than others. It’s okay, it just means I get more exercise taking out the trash!
I really do want to have more of God’s thoughts and ideas in my mind because not only am I able to walk in more peace with Him on a consistent basis, I’m also able to be more at peace with the people around me. Yeah, just like at home, I still must be reminded that the spiritual trash needs emptying. But unlike before, I kind of enjoy taking out the trash. It actually feels pretty good!
Now mowing the grass…well, I guess that’s a whole other devotion!