I heard the loud hiss from the air brakes and then the distinct rattle and bellowing of the diesel engine–a 5:am glance at the alarm clock caused me to sit upright in bed. It was Monday morning. It was the garbage truck! Did I take out the trash? I pulled on my trousers, my sneakers and made a mad dash for the kitchen to get the trash bag. I had maybe three minutes to gather up the trash, make a fifty-yard dash for the outside garbage container and then get it to the street.
The driver of the truck appeared to speed up as I sleepily pulled and half drug the big plastic can to the pick-up site. I believe he even smiled as he saw me rushing to rid myself of a week’s stinky old worthless refuse. He was probably thinking, I’ll beat you next time and you’ll have to smell your rubbish for another week. It was my fault. Monday trash day had followed Sunday for years and I could not blame anyone but me because it’s a man’s job to bring in the money and to take out the trash.
It reminded me of when Mollie and I missed our exit on an Interstate and had to drive 30 miles out of the way before we found a legal place to turn around. It was my fault again–there were plenty of signs alerting me of my upcoming exit. Turn here–this is the exit where you need to get off, but no; I didn’t take it, just like I didn’t take out the trash.
There have been times in my Christian walk when I failed to take out the spiritual trash in my life or missed the chance to take an exit from a highway of sin only to find no way of escape for what seemed like an eternity. It was easy to say, “Oh well, there will be another Monday trash day or another exit just down the road.” I failed to see the enemy sitting in the driver’s seat of my spiritual sin-filled trash truck life and laughing at me hoping my sin overload would destroy me.
The proper time for taking the sin-trash out of our lives is when the Holy Spirit convicts us of that sin. That is when we acknowledge our sin stinks and we can’t live with it another day, let alone another week. Jesus confirmed this in the gospel of John when speaking of the Holy Spirit, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” John 16:8.
The highway of destruction off ramp is constructed and maintained by God. He is patiently waiting for us to stop searching for peace on some tormenting section of sin-road as we drive by every exit of opportunity thinking there will be another one–when there may not be a next exit for us. We can’t just turn around anywhere we choose. Spiritual exits are only opened by God. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” John 6:44
Let this be our prayer, “Oh Lord take out the trash in me, clean me up and wash me down and make me what You want me to be.” What a paradox–when we are sincere about acknowledging and confessing our sin, we open our trash receptacle life and Jesus empties us out and washes us clean with His Word. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Don’t wait until the last minute to take out the trash–get rid of it daily, one sin-bag at a time, don’t let it start stinking and try to beat the garbage truck. Look for the exit ramps off sin’s highway–when you take the one that God provides, there is always a rest area waiting there for you. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
By Pastor Hal Steenson