On New Year’s Day of 2021, following a stormy New Year’s Eve that blew open the trash cans across my neighborhood, God instructed me to pick up trash in my neighborhood every time I walked through it, for the full duration of 2021. Wow – not the kind of New Year’s Resolution I was expecting!? Nonetheless, I’ve been obedient day in and day out over the last year. As I’ve devoted myself to picking up the trash, God has used that discipline to speak spiritually into my life:
Humility: I have a new nickname in my neighborhood . . . the “trash man”. Neighbors see me picking up trash as I walk along, and one even mistook me as a homeless person foraging for food. The neighbors sometimes wave or give me a thumbs up, but they don’t step up to help. Most of them don’t know me, so their only sense of “who I am” is a humble undertaking. It’s reminded me that all our work for the Lord is a form of worship, and that all of my service should be entirely for His glory.
Consistency: This trash “odyssey” has reinforced spiritual discipline for me. My tendency is to “reach for the stars” even when “my reach exceeds my grasp”, but picking up trash doesn’t even allow much time to “look up at the heavens”. Often, our spiritual growth isn’t as much about the next big insight, as it is about living out the insights we already have. In our Christian journey of sanctification, it’s akin to the athlete’s focus on “mastering the fundamentals” day after day.
Visibility: Within a week of starting my trash collection routine, I started pondering how I could enlist other neighbors. After all, “many hands make light work.” 😊 Of course, not one neighbor volunteered spontaneously when they saw me, but I figured it would be a reasonable proposition – like a “neighborhood watch”. Well, God put the kibosh on that. In my prayer time (and there’s lots of time to pray, block after block), God reminded me that sometimes our best witness is simply serving in a visible way.