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By Adam Van Dop

People litter. It may not be right, but it’s what people do.

Our church is down the road from a 7/11, and in this current little heat wave we are experiencing in southern BC, many people frequent the store for their fare share of slurpees. Inevitably, the slurpees are finished, and the refreshed individual is left with an empty cup.

These empty cups do sometimes find their way into the trash, where they belong, but sometimes a step in that process involves the cup being discarded on the side of the road, left for someone else to clean up.

As I was writing this, I looked outside and noticed this exact thing. Behind my car, on the ground lies a slurpee cup, several of those classic dome lids, and what I’m pretty sure is a twisted up straw (you know, the kind that you twist up and get someone else to flick – ending in a noisy SNAP!).

You may have read previous articles about the STiLL ( weekends I run with my youth, where we get together for a weekend and just serve our community. One of the first things we do in this weekend is to pick up garbage on our streets on a Friday afternoon. We each get a large garbage bag, a pair of tongs, and we walk. Often each person comes back with a full bag.

It’s sad really.

On the last STiLL weekend we did, there was this field beside an onramp to a highway, tall grass, some shrubbery, and a whole tonne of garbage. It was nearing the end of our time frame for picking up garbage, we were getting a little tired from carrying our full bags, bending down, and breathing in all the exhaust.

We had cleared off a majority of the junk in the field, and I shouted out to everyone to head back. And I saw one last piece of garbage. As I got closer, I became a little more intrigued.

It was a simple piece of paper, could have been a newspaper, or some sort of brochure – all the ink had been washed away, the paper fibres were barely hanging on to each other. And in the middle of the paper, a little purple flower had grown through.

It was a sad but beautiful picture. This paper had served its purpose of informing, it had done what it had to do, and the unfortunate part is that the previous owner had not bothered to recycle it, but rather, decided to toss it to the ground. And there it lay, and there this flower had grown.

I completed my job; I reached down with my tongs, and picked up the paper. It barely held together as I put it in my garbage bag, and there the flower remained.

Sometimes we allow our lives to fill up with junk, we allow stuff to come in and get settled. It is here that the Lord comes in and plants something that is far more beautiful, worthwhile, and of greater importance. It grows and presses through the garbage, and comes out on top.

But this growth just doesn’t simply happen by itself. Yes, the Lord does plant the seed, but you need to water it and take care of it.

And by watering this seed,
we need to be in the word, reading the bible and discovering what it means;
we need to be in prayer, communicating back and forth with God, and listening to his voice;
we need to be in community, gathering with fellow believers to build us up;
so that when you or someone else comes to pluck the garbage from our lives, the good is not ruined.

Jesus says in Luke 6:45 (NIV), “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

So be encouraged, that when you develop a good heart, a heart that seeks after the heart of God, good actions will follow, and you will find blessings in that. We also must remember, it’s not if you fall, it’s not if you allow junk in your life – it’s when. We all do it; the litter ends up on the ground somehow.

So, when you see some litter lying around, make the effort and bend down to pick it up, and allow the good things to grow without any hindrance.

And perhaps, when you have your own litter picked up, you can help others with theirs.

Be blessed so that you may be a blessing.

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