How many times have we walked by a piece of trash on the ground or knew that something was out-of-place and we had the time to stop and fix it but decided not to? How many times have we said that “something needs to be done” but have never taken the time to do that something?
I recall a summer’s day on my porch…….
Music was in the air and the sweet aroma of BBQ filled my lungs. My daughter and I sat on the porch enjoying one another and the entertainment of the neighborhood children. As we sat, a group of young missionaries walked past the porch talking amongst themselves when one of the missionaries kicked a piece of trash that was in the middle of the sidewalk. Another missionary noticed that the missionary didn’t bend down to pick up the trash and made a remark about what had just transpired.
“Everyone else walked by it.” The chastised missionary said in her defense and kept on walking.
That response totally licked the red off of my apple! Even though it was true- which was probably the real reason for my reaction- I got up and picked up the piece of trash and said loudly: “Well, let me be the first to pick it up!”
I mean really! Can you believe the nerve of some people? Isn’t that what missionaries are trained to do? Aren’t they supposed to go out of their way to pick up or fix the things that are broken in this world?
I fumed for about an hour, wondering how could someone be so blatantly disrespectful. Then I realized that I should only be mad at myself.
Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” Judges 6:14
Not only did I see the piece of trash, I had witnessed children and adults alike kick, throw, ride over and even play with the trash that was ignored by the missionaries. I was more responsible for that missionary’s view of trash than anyone else. It was true that I had not said anything to anyone about the trash until an outsider came into my neighborhood and decided not to do what I had deemed as their responsibility.
When we pass on the responsibility of our neighborhoods to someone else we forfeit our right to say anything. Until we say – “This is my community! I learn here. I play here. I grow here. I deserve a place to thrive and be happy.” – we have to look forward to being disappointed by the people we ‘think’ should fix us.