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Today’s Truth

“Love never ends”

(1 Corinthians 13:8 ESV)

Friend to Friend

I set out to tackle a task I had put off for many years. I didn’t really want to do it at all. It was the job of cleaning out my ministry storage closet. A closet filled with boxes of memories collected over twenty years.

  • Old magazines with articles I had written dating back to 1996.
  • Thirty-six inch vinyl posters of book covers beginning in 1999.
  • A 3-foot lighthouse used in a teaching on motherhood.
  • A treasure box of oyster shells mixed with a strand of pearls used in another teaching on what can happen with irritations that get under our skin.
  • Videos of past interviews from television programs that probably don’t even exist any longer.
  • A box of CDs from ten years of recording Proverbs 31 Ministries radio programs. “Hi, I’m Sharon Jaynes with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Have you ever…”

The programs played through my mind as I dumped one storage bin after another into plastic bags—pieces of my life into black drawstring Hefties. Corners of posters, magazines, cassettes, note-filled binders, and CDs poked through the plastic bags as if trying to escape.

Twenty years. Ten trash bags.

I put the bags out by the street and pondered my day’s work. You’d think I would have been happy to have cleaned out all that clutter, but something inside me ached.

“So that’s it then,” I whispered as I walked away from twenty years of accumulated memories.

The next day my heart felt just about as empty as the newly cleaned shelves…until I opened my email. A word of encouragement waited for me in my inbox. A woman told me about how something I had written had given her the courage to face another day. I won’t go into the details, but her email opened my eyes and my heart to something I already knew, but had forgotten for just a moment.

Those ten trash bags didn’t contain twenty years of ministry or memories. Why? Because memories can’t be put in a trash bag. Because people’s lives can’t be put in a trash bag.

It isn’t our accomplishments and accolades that matter in this life, but the people we impact and the lives we’ve loved.

Paul wrote:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 ESV

And you can’t put that in a trash bag.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, more than anything, I want to glorify Your name while here on this earth. Help me to never cling to earthly treasures, but to live open handed. Thank You for the reminder that the most important things in this world is to love You with all my heart, and to love my neighbor—those who cross my path.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Now It’s Your Turn

What was the one thing that Paul said he did in Philippians 3:13-14?

We often think of forgetting the “bad” in our lives and leaving that behind, but how can clinging to the “good” hold us back as well?

Have you ever know anyone to cling to something good such as a high school accomplishment, one mountaintop experience, or one accolade? What do you think Paul would have to say about that? How could clinging to such keep someone from moving ahead to the next thing God has for him or her?

When you leave this earth, and your worldly possessions are put in trash bags, who are the lives that you have touched that will always remain?

More From the Girlfriends

These moments of God speaking to me in the middle of the mundane is what I call a sudden glory—when God makes his presence known. Sudden glory moments shouldn’t be rare in our lives, but daily occurrences. If you would like to learn more about how to experience God’s presence in your everyday life, then A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More is just for you. It also comes with a study guide in the back.

3 Responses to “Ten Trash Bags”

  1. Donna says:

    I can’t help but think of the song by Casting Crowns “Only Jesus when I read this devotion. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Faye says:

    Dear Sharon
    Thanks so much for your words today.
    I have always been quick to say that I am not really a sentimental person. I have kept a thing or two over the years. But not so much. Always looked at it as clutter.
    Until recently when I found myself handling the affairs of my children’s grandmother. Everything seemed to be a part of her. Sorting through a person’s life and deciding what to donate and what to sell is the hardest thing. I felt that I was selling her whole life for nickels and dimes until I read your devotion today and I realized that none of those things made Grammy the person that we loved so much or that loved us so much. She was and is not in any of those things. She invested in the people in her life. She is still with us and will always be long after all the stuff is gone.
    Thank you!
    Faye

  3. Kathy M. says:

    Recently I went through a similar experience. After teaching preschool for 30 years my back pain became unbearable and surgery is not an option. I lost count of all of the bags, boxes and notebooks full of lesson plans and materials. I also was able to realize that it wasn’t my “stuff” that made all of those years valuable. It was the Lord’s hand on my life and all of the children and parents that were impacted. I also was able to let go of notebooks and boxes of Sunday School lessons I had taught over the years. I was able to do a lot of this releasing because I trust Jesus for provision for my future. I am excited to see what the Lord has for me!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8