[Editor’s note: This is a guest story by contributor June Windle Bare. Some devotionals you just “get” and I really connected with June’s metaphor of a spiritual garbage disposal! I hope you will too.]
Spiritual Garbage Disposal
I had lived seventy-six years without a garbage disposal. There wasn’t such a convenience when I was a young girl growing up in the country. Even after I was out of school and married, garbage disposals were for fancy homes. During much of that time I lived where composting satisfied the dual role of disposing of my garbage and increasing the productiveness of the soil. It works. Then I moved off the farm and into an over-fifty-five community.
My new house was nicer than where I had lived before, but my neighborhood association was not in favor of my tossing the garbage into my back yard. A problem: my new kitchen did not have a garbage disposal. After a year of smelly garbage, I had a lovely garbage disposal installed. It is wonderful. Over the last four years the disposal has saved me from lots of smelly, fermenting bags of garbage until it would be time to roll the beast to the street on Thursday mornings. It works—that is until it doesn’t.
I have a bad habit of buying fresh vegetables and then forgetting them. As I was putting away a new batch of fresh vegetables, something smelled a bit off in my veggie drawer. I dug down to the bottom. Sure enough, there was a half bag of turnip greens that should have been eaten seventeen days before, according to the “date to use by.” Ugh. I turned up my nose, tossed them into the sink, and turned on the water and the garbage disposal. Suddenly, a green swamp began bubbling up out of the drain into the sink, and the erstwhile turnip greens were going nowhere. The disposal was mounting a protest. So, for the next twenty minutes I prayed and plunged; I prayed and peered; I prayed and probed (with the motor off of course). No way was I going to call a plumber. Then as suddenly as it began, my drainage troubles were over as the green swamp in my sink went “schullesssseeep!” It was headed to the sewer. My lovely toy was back in working order.
All this reminded me of bad character traits I tend to accumulate and hold on to. I don’t want to let them go. After all, it’s just the way I am. After all, I’m eighty years old; why shouldn’t I say what I think? After all, . . . For every “Fruit of the Spirit,” (Galatians 5: 22-23) I seem to have an opposite characteristic that creates a spiritual swamp in my life.
I might not hate someone, but I don’t like them. I might not be a sour puss, but do I reflect the joy of Jesus? Yes, I avoid conflict, but I may not share the peace of Christ with others. All right, I admit it: I am not patient, especially when it seems like it will last forever. Of course, I’m good. Don’t I refrain from doing all those naughty things the Bible says I shouldn’t? But do I do good to others? Gentle? How hard is that? Oh, you mean when I’m rude to the telemarketer on the phone, or the slowpoke in line at the grocery store. Faith? Certainly, I have faith. Oh, you mean am I faithful to my neighbor, other old biddies like me, or people I’ve said I’d hold them up to God in prayer. Humble? Don’t ask! And that Self-control thing? Sorry about that temper flareup. You get the picture.
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “…Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:21
These bad qualities decompose and make me less, not more like Jesus. The longer I hold onto them, the rottener they are, the more difficult the disposal. Even the means of disposal gets jammed. Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28: 13)
We can’t save up our ungodly character and then suddenly think it will all go down the drain in one fell swoop. Rather we need to be in God’s presence daily—in prayer, in the word, and in fellowship and an accountability relationship with other believers. Only then will we be disposing of the ungodly character traits that linger even in our redeemed hearts
June is a retired nurse, poet, and widow, living in southern Georgia. Now in her eighties, she remains active in her local church. Among other church responsibilities, she teaches a Sunday school class of her peers. She writes a weekly blog on Facebook, entitled “Monday Musings.” Prior to moving to Georgia, she was a regular contributor to “The Watauga Democrat” newspaper, and “All About Women,” a monthly magazine, both in Boone, North Carolina.
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