I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 (NLT)
I love stories of kids trying to make sense of the recited Christian prayers before they completely understand them. A Catholic friend told me that, as a child, when she said the Ave Maria, instead of ‘Hail Mary, full of grace’, she substituted ‘Hail Mary, full of GRAPES’. She envisioned Mary noshing on a bowl or two of seedless when she carrying Jesus. The image made more sense to her than Mary being full of grace–the words her dad spoke over their food at the dinner table.
But my favorite re-interpretation of scripture is a four-year-old’s take on a passage in the Lord’s Prayer, the one dealing with our ‘trespasses’. Since he had no idea what that word meant, he substituted these lines instead:
Forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.
We all have our trash baskets. Sometimes we fill them up ourselves, with angry thoughts, unkind actions, discouragement, disbelief, and anything we don’t particularly want God to see us doing or feeling. Jesus has washed us clean with His redeeming blood—but that doesn’t mean that we don’t keep a little stash of gripes and grievances off to the side. Apostle Paul sums it up in his letter to the Church of Rome. To paraphrase: “I don’t understand why I do these mean-spirited, self-destructive things, but I do them anyway. Go figure.”
But even more often, we are the receivers of other people’s trash. Angry words at our jobs. Abuse by those we trust. Rebellious kids and tone-deaf spouses. Even diseases that have been passed down to us from our ancestors. All these things are tossed into our trash baskets by others. Sometimes it’s intentional, but often it’s because their own baskets are so full of hurt and pain that they just overflow into ours. And sometimes, God help us, we are the ones tossing our trash into the baskets of others.
It’s a big problem, but there is a one-word solution: FORGIVENESS. We can hand our secret trash baskets to God, and ask Him to forgive us and redeem the mess inside. We can ask our indwelling Holy Spirit to help us hand off the trash we’ve had dumped on us from others, so that He can deal with what we cannot.
The next time you say the Lord’s Prayer, take an honest look at your internal trash basket. Whether it’s got a gum wrapper or a dump truck full of junk, talk to God about it. Our trash baskets might be full, but they don’t have to stay that way. And if you need help emptying your trash basket, please stop by and see us at the Glennon House. We love helping people take out their trash.