Our neighbors forgot to put their trash bin out for pickup last week. As they add this week’s refuse to the already full container, it can’t contain it. (Forget what Oscar the Grouch said about it being “A garbage ‘CAN,’ not a garbage ‘CANNOT!’”) The white, plastic trash bags are tumbling out, an avalanche of household waste. At least the flies are happy!

The trash incident reminds me of the poem by the beloved children’s author Shel Silverstein.  In his book, “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” there appears the young, yet stubborn little girl named Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. And what happens when she won’t take the garbage out? Exactly what you think happens—it piles up and up and up and up in only the way Silverstein can describe it:

At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too…

Okay, so forgive the imagery here, but for the sake of making a point, it works–Jesus takes the trash out. Our trash. Not to the bin for weekly collection, but to Golgotha, the literal trash heap outside of Jerusalem where criminals were crucified by the Romans for crimes against the State. He, who committed no crime and did not deserve death, becomes for us both the trash and the garbage man. And, in taking our sins to the cross and offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins, he receives our punishment.  It sounds awful, and it was, but it was done for us so that we would know it’s never too late. Never too late to know we are loved, never too late to know that the forgiveness and power of Christ are ours. Never too late to know He did all the work for us.

As humans, we sometimes forget to take out the trash, as our neighbors did. (I can assure you this is not a regular issue with them!) Also, being human, we are sinful and our sin, if not dealt with, can become like the household waste that piles up and rots and attracts flies. It spills over into the lives of those whom we love and causes all sorts of problems. Yet, God, in his great mercy has taken care of it—unlike Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout. So, when you take the trash out this week and put it in the garbage can, recall the work of Jesus for you. As bad as the imagery is, imagine what it would be like if he had not done what he did.

In the Name of Jesus,