C’Mon, LET’S GET EXCITED TO CLEAN THOSE GARBAGE CANS!
Who knew there are such a great lessons in doing something as simple as cleaning out a garbage can.
This morning at church, I had the opportunity to wash a few garbage cans. These cans were the large 55-gallon type, not little office or kitchen garbage cans, but the big industrial size. These cans can hold large amounts of garbage at once or sometimes hold nothing but empty boxes no one took the time to break down before tossing.
A garbage can is one of those things in life we all use yet we seldom give much thought to unless it is stinky, full and needing to be emptied.
My steps to cleaning a garbage can.
As I start to clean a garbage can, the first thing to do is empty it. Usually, there is a black garbage bag full of all types of discarded objects…food scraps, papers, empty this or that. Yet sometimes there is an item in the can that was still good, still had a life to it. Even though it was still good and useful when tossed, once the item is tainted by the rest of the garbage, out it goes.
After I empty the can, I am left with a dirty shell, empty, yet still dirty. After a good soak, things will start to come loose and a few things may take elbow grease to get the yuck to move. Eventually, it gives way to a clean can.
Then, before you’re finished, there is one more item. Don’t forget the lid. The top is dusty, the underside is dirty, crusted with who knows what and it too will need a soaking and scrub.
The final step in the garbage can cleanliness is to wash the outside and make it look like new, which is impossible. Once used, the garbage can will clearly be seen as a garbage can but never pristine.
So what lesson is there in a garbage can?
The garbage can reminds me of my Christian walk with Jesus. When He first called me to Him, I was just like these garbage cans. Full of yuck and dirt, crusted with all types of contamination. Then He washed me out.
The steps He took to clean me up and be who I am today are the same I took with a garbage can.
First, He had to get the old self out which was my full garbage bag containing garbage called sin…in the form of gossip, or pride, or lust, or greed, or hurtful thoughts toward someone. Inside was a few good things also…my willingness to help or my caring for others. Yet, when Jesus saw these few good qualities, He knew these could be contaminated by the sin in my life and selfishly motivated. He wanted everything out so we could start fresh.
So to clean me, Jesus filled me with His Living Water. He scrubbed me clean. When something was “crusted on,” something I had a hard time letting go of, which often was my pride and my belief in my “right to be offended,” He scrubbed some more. Then He stood back and said, “she is clean.”
But He wasn’t finished. The lid…or my mind…was next. This is the entry point for all garbage. Jesus knows the mind is the battlefield to my soul. He wants it clean. So just like I cleaned the lid to the garbage can, Jesus went to work on my mind. He is never content to settle for a nice appearance, the inside of my mind must be clean, just like the inside lid of a garbage can. Today, as every day, it is on a cleaning schedule washed through prayer, bible study and great counseling from trusted Christians.
And the last step was to clean up my outside. I will always carry scars, both visible and invisible of past hurts and battles. My outside human body is continuing to decay as long as I live. And just as the garbage can gets kicked, scraped, and dumped on, so I too will for the rest of my life. I will receive hurts, be at war with the unseen powers of the air, and at times, even other Christians and I may find us at odds. Garbage will be dumped on me, it the way in this life. Only Jesus is able to keep me clean.
So my lesson in my garbage can: My life is like a garbage can and Jesus is the greatest Cleaner of all!
Two nameless women mentioned in the Bible is the woman at the well and woman with the blood issue. Their lives, when openly revealed in the Light of Jesus, showed two women resembling the garbage lives I mentioned above, much like mine own life was revealed to me by the Light of Jesus.
The first woman, the nameless woman at the well, was a Samaritan woman, married four times and living with a man that was not her husband. As she went to draw water in the heat of the day, a time of day she was probably hoping would find fewer people at the public well, she encounters the Living Water of Jesus. This gentle God-man does not point out the dirty parts of her life, yet He does not ignore the dirt that is part of her life. He gently gives her the love of His Father and she becomes clean. Does He erase her past? No. Her past is her past, much like the life held which resembled the dirty garbage can, her new life then resembled the garbage can which is kicked and scuffed. She is perfectly clean on the inside, yet past choices and mistakes take their toll on our physical bodies and relationships. You may read her story in John 4:1-26.
Another unnamed woman had an issue of blood for 12 years. At this time in history and in this culture, any woman experiencing her monthly cycle was determined uncleaned and was forced to live outside the city until she was determined to be “clean” once again. This particular woman had been living with this blood issue, which we would consider today as hemorrhaging, on a daily basis for 12 years. She was unclean in everyone’s eyes, even her own. Yet, her hope and faith in the One who could heal led her to do the unthinkable and approach this God-man even as He was surrounded by His own disciples and a crowd following Him. As she touched Him, He felt His power go out and turned to see her–the once unclean woman–and He saw her…no longer dirty but cleaned. Read about her in Mark 5: 25-34.
There is no better CLEANER than Jesus. Ask Him to look inside the garbage can of your life, ask Him to clean you inside and out. My life resembles a clean-up garbage can as I had put my faith in Jesus a long time ago. Do I still add garbage to it? Yes, unfortunately, I still sin. But God has cleaned me inside and outside and I no longer live in the garbage of my past. Let me know what your life is like, are you a cleaned-up garbage can or are you needing that first really good cleaning that only comes from the true Cleaner of our lives? Let’s connect, leave a comment here. I’d love to hear about your life too.