Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

Last year in our Lenten devotional booklet I shared with you the scripture Joshua 1:9 about having courage and not being afraid as related to my fear of entrance ramps onto the interstate highways. Recently while traveling to Columbia and readying my prayer for getting on the interstate, my attention was focused on the roadsides along the way. Leaving Sumter, I always notice the trash along the roads or the absence of, thankful for those who pick up the debris. There are other areas along the way down Highway 601 and Screaming Eagle Road that can really be an eyesore with trash strewn everywhere. When I come to an area where the trash has been removed I get a feeling of relief and thankfulness that God’s creation is anew with cleanliness and order.

My journey made me think about how we, as God’s children, can carry a lot of trash (burdens) with us every day or we can enjoy the freshness and relief of God’s joy by giving our trash to Him. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Hate, malice, anger, jealousy, grudges, prejudice, lying, gossiping, etc., are all trash and weaknesses in God’s eyes and are not likely to bring joy to our hearts or His. Just like trash on the side of the road, these actions are not pretty. They are burdens that weigh us down and suck the life from us.

On the other hand, when we are pouring out ourselves in love: helping others, encouraging others, showing compassion and selflessness for others, “laying down our lives” for our family, friends and strangers and loving our neighbors; the joy of the Lord becomes our strength. Our focus is not on ourselves, but on service to God.

Faith step: Make a list of all the “trash” in your life. Pray for God to help you release the “trash” and then put it in His trash can.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me so that I may serve you from my heart and make this a place of beauty and love.

Carolyn Putnam