Lessons from the Garbage

It is bin/rubbish/garbage day here in the village where I live in the south-eastern part of England. And can I take a moment to say a huge thank you to all those who work in refuse collection and waste management. We applaud our healthcare workers every week now in the UK, and rightly so, but those men and women who pick up our waste and help keep everything clean fulfil an important role too. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if they didn’t do it! So a massive thank you to all of them today.

Anyway, back to the post already in progress…

In our village,and it might be the same where you live, we have a local Facebook page for local people to share all kinds of things. The are plenty of adverts for local businesses, which can be helpful, and update on what is going on in the area. As well as this useful material, there is more than a reasonable amount of complaining too.

One neighbour photographs the other’s bin and shares it to the page saying “They’ll never take all that!” Another comments that they saw said neighbour putting an extra bag in the other neighbour’s bin without permission… it’s quite the soap opera!

This is all vaguely interesting Andy, you might well be thinking, but what does it have to do with the Bible? Actually i think the Bible has a lot to teach us in our everyday lives, and here are a few lessons we can all learn from the garbage!

Be grateful for what you have

As I dragged our multiple bins and bin-bags out to the kerbside last evening, I glanced up and down our street. We produce a fair amount of waste as six humans live in our house. We used to use a voluntary recycling scheme to reduce our waste, but COVID-19 put a stop to that. Every house in our street had a lot of rubbish to put out for collection.

It got me thinking – if we are throwing away this much, then we must have an awful lot to begin with. How fortunate we are to have so much, and to be able to throw away so much!

Most people reading this will be reasonably wealthy in comparison to some in the world. We take our blessings for granted, and do not realise that many of us throw away more in a month than some people own.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

Given how much we have, and how much we waste, we have no excuse for not being thankful.

The things we throw away are not just waste, but they represent the time we spent working to earn them, and often the joy we got from using them. When you throw something away, take a moment to thank God for it. I know it may sound silly, but everything we have comes from God and it’s not wrong to say thank you.

Be considerate to each other

At a house where I used to live, they were fairly strict about what you could and couldn’t put out in your household waste. As well as only putting out certain items, you had to ensure they were in the correct colour bin or sack. Woe to anyone who got it wrong!

One time we put out a sack of garden waste; grass cuttings and the like. Unfortunately, we put it in the recycling receptacle by mistake! An eagle-eyed refuse collector spied the suspect package, ripped the sack open to inspect the contents and then unceremoniously dumped the grass clippings all over the side of the road.

I hold my hands up to the mistake of course, but it was not really necessary to make the mess as he did. Such behaviour is just inconsiderate. Someone else had to come along and clear that up, and it was clear they did not care who it was.

Be considerate of other people, even if it inconveniences you slightly. Don’t take shortcuts and put other people out just because you cannot be bothered.

another now infamous post on our village’s Facebook page shows a car parked right across the pavement blocking anyone with a pushchair (stroller), wheelchair or even those walking. Why? I suspect because parking spaces were full and they did not want to park down the road and walk the rest of the way.

We are all in a hurry at times, and it can be very tempting to take the path of least resistance. But make sure that your choices do not impact on others.

Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3 (GNT)

Put other people ahead of yourself. And please notice that Paul makes no mention of whether they deserve it or not. If you cannot do it for them, then do it for Jesus.

Don’t complain

As our waste is collected on a Thursday, I try to remember to put it out the night before. However, it is usually just after I’ve sat down for the evening on a Wednesday that I remember. Sadly I’ve spent many an evening uttering to myself and grumbling about having to do it. What a terrible attitude!

Don’t complain about having to sort out your waste into recycling, non-recycling, garden waste and food. Do it with a good attitude and be grateful you have waste to sort.

Don’t complain about your neighbour’s huge pile of rubbish, or those who do not recycle for whatever reason. Don’t grumble if your bin is missed from the collection one week, or if they refuse to take it because you have not put the right items in the right place.

And don’t take photos of your neighbour’s bin and put them on Facebook, it’s just not cool.

Do everything without complaining or arguing

Philippians 2:14 (ISV)

Do everything without complaining. Even putting out the rubbish. I hope this gives you something to think about the next time you are hauling a bag to the side of the road!

Praying Big

Yesterday’s post – What is prayer? – had a really positive response, so thanks to everyone for reading and sharing it. I thought I would continue on the theme of prayer today.

i heard a story this morning which I wanted to share with you. I retell it below in my own words. I’ve no idea if it is true, but it sends a clear message even if fictional.

Alexander the Great was the leader of a huge empire which stretched across much of the world. Despite this, he never forgot the needs of his people and one day every year he would invite randomly selected citizens to come and ask him for something. Whatever they wanted, he would grant it if it was within his power.

For many years, people would come and ask for small things. One would ask for enough food to eat. Another would request some new clothing.

One year, a peasant was selected and he stood before the great leader. Unlike the others, he asked for a great palace to live in, and the resources to invite all his friends and family to come and dine in the palace and take care of them.

Without hesitation, Alexander the Great said “Yes!”

Later, Alexander was asked why he would grant such a lavish request. His response was telling. “Anyone could give extra food or clothes, you do not need to be anyone special for that. But this request made me feel like a king! For only a king could give what this man had asked for.”

I wonder if our prayers to God the Father are somehow reflected in this story?

When I think about my own prayer life, I am humbled to realise that i do not pray anywhere near “big enough.” How often do we find ourselves saying something like, “God, if you would just….” or “Even if you could give a little help…” What does this betray about how we think about God or ourselves?

Perhaps we think God is not powerful enough to handle our prayers? Or, more likely, perhaps we think we do not deserve to receive answers to such big prayers?

Let me reassure you today, God can handle any prayer you care to offer to Him. The lights in heaven will not dim if you ask too much of God. God created the heavens and the earth, and He raised Christ Jesus from the dead. Is anything too hard for God?

Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the time set for it, I will return to you—about a year from now—and Sarah will have a son.”

Genesis 18:14 (ISV)

Abraham and Sarah became parents at a very old age, and that was not too difficult for God.

On the other point, do you deserve to have God answer your biggest prayers? No, absolutely not. But that is why we do not pray in our name, but in the Name of Jesus.

If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.”

John 14:14 (ISV)

When we pray in Jesus’ Name, we are approaching the throne of God presenting all that Jesus is and has done. We do not go on our own merits, but on Christ’s. When God looks upon us, He no longer sees our sin and sinfulness, but the perfection achieved by Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross.

I once heard someone say, “I’d rather ask God for everything and get some of it, than ask for nothing and get all of it.” We rarely ask for the “big stuff” because we often don’t think big enough.

There is much I learn from my own children on this point. My daughters rarely limit what they ask for. It does not matter how big it is, they go ahead and ask. It never crosses their mind that I might not be able to deliver! And even when I say no (far too often I am sad to admit) it does not faze them one bit – they just go on and ask for the next thing.

If we ask for more in prayer, then what is the worst than can happen? If we ask for anything from God which is not His will, then it will not happen. So move on and ask for something which is in His will. Clearly we should not be asking for things prohibited by the Bible, but don’t limit God by assuming He will say no before you’ve even asked. At least give God the right to refuse!

Set your minds on God, not just what He has done, but on Who He is. Not only is He all powerful, but He loves you so much He gave us His Son to die for you! If we begin to grasp the depth of His love and the strength of His power, then we will never cease to pray!

Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us—

Ephesians 3:20 (ISV)

God can do far more than we can ask or even imagine. How “big” is your imagination? How much more is God than that!

Start today. Let’s stop praying these tiny prayers as if we are bothering God. Let each one of us, as we pray, use our imaginations to go beyond whatever it is we were about to ask for. Take your prayer and multiply it first, then dare to go further and ask God to achieve it. He is able!

Bear in mind that prayer is not primarily about getting everything we want. Ask for your needs and wants of course, but let us all pray in ways which will last for eternity, not just the here and now.

We praise the Living God who hears our prayers and can do all things! Nothing is impossible for Him! Let us magnify and multiply our prayers a hundred-fold, and give God all the glory as we see the answers come! Amen!