A block from where I start my morning walk there is a lot of trash between the sidewalk and a high wall that extends the length of the block. In the 10 feet between them there can be all kinds of trash: food wrappers, plastic market bags, discarded drink cups, pages torn out of books, etc., etc., etc! Since my walk is a prayer time and I was already talking to Him, I complained to the Lord one day about all the trash. His reply: "remember how much of your trash (sins) I have picked up." Immediately, in gratitude for His many forgivenesses I began picking up trash. And I have done so a couple of times a week ever since. The practice has taught me many lessons, some of which I'd like to share with you.

  God has indeed picked up all our trash. The extent of His mercy is full: He has not let one of our sins go unsuffered for. There is so much trash that I can pick up only a portion. But He has not only become aware of all our sins, He has also done the inconceivable task of atoning for them in the death of His Son.

  Whereas I didn't put the trash there, I can still pick it up. This is the family of man taking care of each other. There are people who just don't yet see the need for keeping the streets clean. So I can take over some of their responsibility by cleaning up after them. While doing so, I usually say something like this: "forgive them, Lord. And I bless them" because He Himself tells us to bless our enemies. The people who throw trash out the window are enemies of the health and beauty of our city, so I can bless them. Incidentally, I find my own heart is in much better shape since I began blessing enemies instead of rebuking them.

When Jesus taught us to pray, "forgive us our trespasses," I think He was giving us permission to confess others' sins. We're way too individualistic in Western civilization—most of the rest of the world sees that we need to take steps for others' benefit (see chap. 9 in my Holy Vulnerability: "Vulnerability to God's Collective View of His People"). You can confess someone else's sin, and God responds with grace towards them. And you.

  I can pick up small and large pieces of trash. This reminds me that the Lord has picked up my little bitty sins and well as the humongous ones. What a God He is to have been so diligent in setting me free.

  Every time I pick up trash it endears me to the heart of the One who has forgiven me. "You are some God!" I exclaim to Him. "What a God to have been so generous to me. I thank You, Lord, for your astounding mercy towards me."

  Some trash is so blatant that it tempts me to anger. Some trash is just over the top, it's just too trashy, it's simply too rude. Some of it is not all that easy to pick up. I once strained my knee doing it and had to wear a brace for several weeks. But then, of course, I melt with the recognition of how God has viewed some of my sins, especially the really bad ones. He had every right to anger, yet responded to my sins with compassion. What can I say but: "O God, help me to adopt Your attitude of mercy towards those whose sins are blatant."

  While I just toss the trash into a bin, somebody else has to cart it away. Jesus took the sins of all into His own body on that tree, and those sins killed Him. But when He descended into hell, He deposited those sins there in hell where they originated and where they belong. When He rose, He rose free and clear of all sins. We don't have to leave our sins sitting in trash cans behind the garage of our souls. Let Him take them completely away.

  It's a busy street by which I pick up trash; sometimes I ask the Lord to let some driver see me and be touched by the behavior they see. Wouldn't it be nice if more who see us behaving mercifully were moved to be more merciful themselves?