I was probably a typical child in that I had a really messy bedroom. I had an extra bed in my room for guests. However it was hard to find the bed under a nice mangle of my clothes (clean and dirty), toys, rocks and twigs I had been playing with, half-finished art projects, etc. But I loved to look good when I went out. On Sunday my clothes were clean, ironed, and I was regal in my kitten heels. I remember my mum saying to me one Sunday, “Ya, you look nice… but if someone sees the room you have come from…”
That statement has stuck with me so much, that when I feel my house or room is not up to scratch, it is one of the first statements that comes to me. And I thank God for giving me a very wise mum; in everyday things she taught me lifelong lessons. Things I can pass on to my great grandchildren.
I am writing this on earth day. Two days ago as I came home, three children came round the corner (two teenage boys and a little girl about 6 or seven years). One of the young gentlemen threw a bunch of yellow fliers over his shoulder, and they were carried off in the wind to land in the distance like large misshapen flowers that were not too sure what their mother plant was. He then looked down at the little girl who was clutching a similar bunch of yellow fliers, and said “ si uzitupe, unajifanya kanjo hapa.”
All this took a few seconds, but I went through feeling angry, saying all sorts of things about ‘watoto wa siku hizi’ in my head, decided to confront them and then talked myself out of it, decided to pick up the papers myself and wondered what difference it would make seeing as where they landed there was a beautiful bouquet of plastic supermarket bags, and other little petals of assorted rubbish.
I finally gathered my courage and decided to confront them, fully expecting and braced to get a tonne of teenage attitude. But to my amazement and joy, they humbly hung their heads,(except the little girl who had a huge “you got busted” grin on her face)and went on to pick every piece of paper as far as they had been blown, and brought them back to me to dispose. And the little girl who had done no wrong helped to clean up too!
Today, again on my way home, I was walking behind a lovely lady who was drinking a soda. She finished it and threw the plastic bottle on the ground. I began reeling inside again, “she‘s carrying a paper bag, why couldn’t she have put it in there then dispose it properly when she gets wherever she is going. But what use is it, look at all this rubbish around here even if I was to tell her what difference would it make, or even if I was to pick it myself.”
Then she did something outrageous. About 3 meters and definitely not more than 5, from where she had deposited her bottle, she turned into a church compound. If I was one of those eccentric actors in a sitcom, you would have at that moment seen me throw up my hands, my jaw drop and hear a loud “REALLY!”
I picked the bottle and got her attention, she came back to the gate and I asked her to please take the bottle and throw it in a bin. She refused to take the bottle and said she was new to the church and was not sure where the bins were. Well she could ask. No, she did not know “what kind of people this church were”. She told me “ Aki, ungeiacha tu.”
I eventually had to look for a bin myself within the compound, which took me 2 seconds and I was out, with her ironically saying “thank you,” as I left.
So I got home, and am reflecting on these incidents and similar ones over the week, where I have seen a need, an injustice, a hard conversation, a situation that needed confronting, an issue where the Holy spirit was giving me His heart about the situation, but I talked it through and reasoned it to death before confronting, or in some cases reasoned it to death, period.
How many times do we see sin in friends, church members, the lost, and reason it away. We say “I am not called to save the world.” “What difference will one person make?” “I am sure they know what they are doing, after all they are grown up/are in church.” “There is so much sin around why even bother.” “What will they think of me? And how will they react?” “They look good on the outside, that can’t really be an issue.” But it’s not just others, we make the same excuses for handling the rubbish in our own lives.
Amazingly in the two incidents above I was positively surprised both times. Those I thought would be hard to deal with received the message with humility and made an immediate change. And though the lady in the second instance gave me a hard time, she had gratitude in the end. Who/what are we fearing to confront and in the process missing out on the abundant life Christ promised. A life that stretches you in obedience to Christ, a life that truly exemplifies our certainty that, for God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Truly exemplifying that we believe in not conforming to the pattern of this sinful world, but are allowing God to transform us by the renewal of our minds and thus are able to discern what His pleasing, good and perfect will is.
This earth is a mess lets clean up inside (me) and out (next door neighbour and to the ends of the earth).
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