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  • Writer's pictureA Musing Pastor

"Making Room for Joy"

"Take out the garbage."

The four worst words to hear on a Thursday night at 7:30 when the wind is howling and the thermometer reading 22 degrees F.!! One of us trudges to the room garbage cans and gathers it together and heads to the garage to empty the big garbage can. The job requires a tie off of the bag and application of a sticker to signify our payment of refuse removal fees. The walk to the curb, though about 35 paces seems like a quarter mile when it's freezing cold. The job still needs to get done. It is amazing the amount of garbage we produce in a week's time. Even with a staunch recycling discipline, we still have a lot of stuff to throw away.

Most of you know I love the outdoors and love to take pictures of those places and people we visit. Over the last 10+ years, I have owned 4-5 smart phones and have utilized the camera feature a lot. As is my penchant, when the gallery on my phone gets many photos and videos, I download them onto my PC. I think, there are so many great photos and I want to save them! And so I have.

A few months ago, on a whim, I checked the size of my photo folder on my PC. It dialed in at approximately (app.) 153+ gigabytes. For some, that wouldn't be much. For others, it would clog their computer a lot. Let me break it down for you. A gigabyte holds (app.) 1000 megabytes. Remember the old 3.5 floppy discs we used to use? They were said to hold 1.44 megabytes. If my math is anywhere near accurate, my PC photo folder would have needed about 106,250 floppy discs to store the photos and videos. (Actually, it would be impossible to do this task since most videos are 20-30 megabytes or larger and photos average about 3-4 megabytes which would eliminate 3.5 floppy discs from this job.) So began the tedious labor of love in auditing my photos and jettisoning many to the recycle bin (Insert crying emoji here)!!


In the ensuing few months, I have deleted 86 gigabytes of treasured photos and videos that in retrospect were just mediocre at best and some were plain awful. Let me break that down a little. If a gigabyte holds 1,000 megabytes, then my 86 gigs of junk would be equal to (app.) 59,722 floppy discs.

All this to say that our hearts and minds store things. Some things are good, some are incredibly good, and then some stuff is mediocre or plain awful. It is good to audit the heart and mind on a regular basis to sift through all the things we hold onto. It's likely our hearts and minds are glutted with stuff that needs to go. The task is much like taking out the garbage at night in biting winter wind. We don't want to do it but it needs done!

The apostle Paul was connecting with the church in Rome and gave distinct instruction for faithful Christian living.

A Living Sacrifice "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)

We offering our life and the renewal of our minds are two focal points of the text and reminded me of the way in which my PC needed to be renewed. In the case of my PC, a lot of junk, stuff, peripheral things, and garbage needed to go. I suspect each of us have the same in our hearts and minds that need to be sorted through. The work is difficult, dare I say painful. Letting go of things that seemed to be so good at the time of storage isn't easy for packrats such as I am. However, not all the things we store are treasures.

Holding onto the guilt of past failures, ill feelings from broken expectations, and a myriad of other bad photos clog the joy of Jesus in our faith walk. The clog is gradual so it isn't evident at first blush. One needs to stop, dig through the stored stuff, and begin to eliminate things that diminish our joy and effectiveness. To live our fullest potential in Jesus requires a purge of the notion that we are autonomous and don't need God's guidance. The sacrifice of our life to God's service is holy and pleasing and will produce photos of beauty that no photographer on this earth can match. Hopefully, if we hear

"Take out the garbage!" we'll understand the importance of the task and get busy. It isn't fun, it isn't glamorous, but it will make room for godly things to flourish in our lives. God will be pleased and we will be stream-lined for ministry work in the Kingdom. "A Musing Pastor"

PS: My new approach to photography on adventures is 'Quality' over 'Quantity'. (Insert smiling emoji here.)

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