trash day…

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Sometimes we don’t have to pray this searching prayer from the psalmist in order for us to know the offensive ways of our hearts. Sometimes we just know. Sometimes it’s just that obvious.

Let me explain.

Things are breaking around my house. The washing machine. The telephone. The remote control. The doorbell. My husband’s watch. My shoes. Unanticipated collapses in and around our home, small annoyances yet big enough to foster our frustration. Not big enough to move us past the point of reasonable responses but just enough to remind us that at any given point on any given day, breakage of temporal things can and does occur. Those breakages can be managed.

But what about the other ones? The breakages not related to temporal things but rather ones related to eternal hearts? Fractures that are not easily fixed, managed, or controlled? Breakages that occur because of the carnality that simmers just beneath the surface of our skin? What do we do with those collapses when they burst forth as “unreasonable and out-of-control”?

Last night I went to bed with some breakage. So did the other members of my household. Someone spoke breakage into someone else, which in turn began a chain of brokenness throughout our household. It doesn’t much matter how the chain began. What matters is the fact that breaking words have a strong tendency to spread like a virus. Before long, everyone is infected, and hearts begin to ache for the greater good they once felt—the greater good for which God created them.

We should know better. Live better. Speak better. A better way of doing life is what God desires for each one of us. When we don’t act on that better—when we deliberately choose to live as a people unchanged by the cross of Calvary—then we continue to live as a sin-sick people in desperate need of a heart’s examination.

To know that we need one … a heart’s examination? Well, I suppose that is a good starting point. So many Christians are walking around with blinders on, unaware of their simmering sin. Worst still are those who are aware of their sin yet are unwilling to do anything about it. Those who choose to linger with yesterday’s rotten, stinking garbage and who have somehow fooled themselves into thinking that stink doesn’t stink and that the flies gathering around are an indication of some remaining goodness.

Time to take out the garbage, friends. Time to pray the prayer, to acknowledge the sin, to put away childish things. Time to stop breaking one another with angry words, forced agendas, human manipulation. Time to work from the heart outward, rooting out those carnal tendencies that simmer just beneath the surface of the skin. Time to push them out completely so that our tomorrows aren’t filled with the stench of yesterday’s struggle.

This morning, I’ve taken time to collect the garbage of my heart and hauled it to the curb of Calvary. Laid it down before the Son of God and begged his pardon for my sin. It hasn’t been a difficult collection process for me. Some stink… some sin, is just that obvious, just that offensive.

Oh for a heart that is quick to notice the quickening truth of the Spirit of God within! Oh for a heart that is willing to listen to conviction, to act on that conviction, and to move forward with repentance and grace-filled renewal! What would it take to get us there, readers? What lingering sin is still simmering beneath the surface of your skin today? If you’re willing to open up your heart for examination, then I invite you to pray the prayer that the psalmist prayed so long ago, the prayer that I prayed just moments ago. It’s time to stop breaking ourselves and those that we love with the sins that so easily entangle us.

Search me, O God, and know my heart completely. Try me, test me, examine me under your microscope, and point out my insufficiencies. Make them obvious to me, Lord, and press my flesh to the point of releasing them once and for all to the cleansing work of the cross. This is the only prayer I know to pray today, the only prayer I want to pray today. You are my standard. You have called me to holiness. Only You can bring about a change in my heart. Humbly I submit it today for your sacred scrutiny. Lead me forward in the way everlasting—the path of eternal consequence. You are where I’m headed, Father. Save me from myself, and bring me safely home. Amen.


25 Responses to trash day…

  1. What a wonderful post! Truly a reminder to :"put out the trash!" This one will stick with me! Thank you for posting!

  2. Love this post! I've been doing a lot of hauling garbage lately too.
    Things smell so much better when the work of the cross hauls off my trash!

  3. We've been taking out the trash around here a lot, lately. My reactions to the "trash talk" people have spoken over members of our family, lately, have not been the kindest, as you know! Time to reign in this Mountain Mama!

    Great post, sweet friend.

    Love you…

  4. Good morning! Soo many good thoughts here…Yes, taking the trash out is such a good analogy of what we need to do with our sin. It is a never ending chore over here. I am going to remember this post for a while! Have a good day! HUGS

  5. Such a good lesson you've brought us today Elaine! Was reminded of something in our Beth Moore Bible study this morning. We're doing the David study and were reading this a.m. from Psalm 19. She brought out that David KNEW what he was supposed to do. He KNEW how to keep in right relationship with God. But then he CHOSE to go against all that and commit adultry and murder. She said to us…"If we're smart we'll find ourselves thinking…If that can happen to David, it can happen to anybody!" Scary thought to me! I need to be constantly carrying out the garbage in my life !!

    Love how you always touch my inner spirit with your writing!

    Marilyn…in Mississippi

  6. Elaine, this was great.

    I had a blog buddy who once summed it up this way, "Oh Lord, I stinketh." (I think that's the OT version of a sinful heart!)

    Yes, in your prayer you said, "Save me from myself…" I can't tell you the times that I have gotten so very frustrated with myself – over the *little* sins that just don't seem to go away for long. The things that just keep cropping up. It's like Paul's dilemma – I keep doing the things I don't want to do, and can't seem to do the things I want to do.

    Without the Lord's help, I'm a mess sometimes. And yet, He came to die for our filthy, trashy rags – and offers a clean white Robe of Righteousness in their place. Glory!

    I prayed this prayer with you. May God make me ever more sensitive to the things that are not pleasing to Him – change my heart, Lord.

    Sacred scrutiny – THAT was a *keeper* phrase. Yup, bring on the microscope of the Holy Spirit!


  7. "Save me from myself"! That says so much! Great post…I'm so glad that with God, every day can be garbage day. He can and will remove our stinking bags of trash each time we humbly offer them to Him. You'd think that would be a terrible gift to give God, but He loves it! He loves to clean the hearts of His loved ones!

    Blessings, Joan

  8. I knew not to be fooled when I saw your trash bags! I already sensed a good one coming! Oh yes my friend, that trash is something I've blogged about too… my trash.

    Funny how the city schedules a pick up twice a week, and by the time it gets here, my bins and bags are FULL, every time! What a picture of our lives. We need to be 'dumped' constantly… more than twice a week!

    Great post.


  9. What a visual!! Oh, my… yes, I need to take out the trash. Thanks for making it real. And for being real.

  10. Beautiful post, Elaine! For many years now, one of my daily prayers has been for God to break my heart over my sin. A dangerous prayer, if there ever was one, because He has done it time and time again. I have been the one who causes breakage more times than I care to admit, but i pray I am doing it less and less.

  11. No wonder we're warned against a tongue that sets a fire ablaze. Hubby & I have learned to be very gentle with each other over the years because we first learned how awful the feel & stink of singed hearts.

    I hope my children learn the same thing someday, especially with each other. You'd think at 42, 41 & 38 they'd be less inclined to be so critical of each other. You'd think.

  12. Wow, Elaine! You just verbalized everything that I was feeling emotionally just last week. God was working on me about so much of the garbage in my life, and I was feeling raw for several days afterward. Thank you for your kind comments and encouragement when you stopped by, and glory to God that you can communicate these truths so effectively. I hauled a lot of trash to the curb, and I don't plan on sneaking any of it back in.

  13. Even though the prayer and scripture "Search me, O God, and know my heart" can be a difficult one to pray at times, it's always good. Always leads us to closer communion with the Father. And that's a comfort, isn't it?

    Love your phrase "the curb of Calvary". So thankful we can get rid of our trash there…

    Saw on Facebook that you will be away visiting friends. Have a wonderful time. When you get home and get a chance, pop over to my blog and check out my Wed post. A real blessing for me…


  14. wifeforthejourney:

    Me and my garbage….time to take out the trash, both literally and spiritually. While loading up the trash bins for pick up last night I had time to reflect on your writing and my own state of mind. Like the old hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" I can only say: "Come quickly Lord Jesus." My heart is indeed, (like the third verse of the hymn says) "prone to wander."

    V. 3 of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"

    "To grace how great a debtor
    daily I’m constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
    bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    prone to leave the God I love;
    here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above."

    Love you,


  15. It's amazing how quickly our tongues can light a wildfire, isn't it Elaine? I think you and I must be on the same "conference call" today, as the Scripture quote I posted to my Facebook page this morning dealt with exactly that issue…

    "For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." – James 3:7-10 (ESV)

    We're warned that the same voice that can be used to cry praises to the Heavens, can also bring pain to those we're called to love.

    I'm with you… Let's do a "spiritual garbage collection", and cast those bags away from us.

    Wonderful words Dear Lady.

    Have a Blessed Day!

  16. Dearest friend, you speak of the very situation that happened between me, my sister and my daughter – where the breakage has been piling up and remaining undealt with … and something's gotta give somewhere, somehow, and it did…

    Yes, it's time to take out the garbage.

    If garbage is never allowed to pile up, then getting rid of it is a lot easier.

    Thanks for this incisive post, Elaine.


  17. Thank you for the simple reminder to take out the trash. I really liked this post. Hope you have a beautiful weekend.

  18. This exercise of self examination is by far our most vital daily activity. Without we veer off course, eventually far from the heart of God.
    Great reminder!

  19. Hello, my sweet friend. This post really hits home here. It seems I need to take out the trash on a regular basis or these wretched moments spill out and stink up everything. Such good advise.

    I have been thinking of you, wondering what's new. Let's catch up soon, ok? Miss hearing your twang. 🙂

    love to you,

  20. Shortly after James died our family broke in two, flung words that are hard to take back and worse, have not attempted to take them back. My daily prayer is that God help each of us to forgive the other for their perceived wrongs and to show each of us what we did to the other and help us forgive ourselves. Today I began taking an antidepressant in an attempt to mend my heart.

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