May 25th, 2011 - Beliefs and Actions

Since the addition of a dog into my life in March, I have walked the 3 mile stretch of road by my home certainly dozens of times. 

Once, and sometimes twice a day, I snap on Curry's leash and we hit the pavement for a quick jaunt.  Our out-of-town location makes it an hour of relaxing sunshine and wildlife, a perfect break from work and the business of home.

Sometimes another member of my family accompanies me and we have a great time talking over the many things going on in our day and the world.  But when it is just Curry and I, I have also found the time offers a good opportunity to pray.

It happened earlier this month at the start of our walk that Curry nosed a piece of trash out of the brush.  After a quick command for him to "Leave it!  Yucky!" we continued on down the road but something was different.  I suddenly began to see trash everywhere as we walked along.  Beer cans, glass and plastic bottles, cigarette cases, fast food containers, coffee cups from various stands.  They all seemed to jump out at me from their dusty resting places about the ditch, snagged in the bushes and tall grass.    

I thought it odd that it suddenly seemed so noticeable when I had walked the road so many times in the past and hardly paid it any attention.  It so snagged my attention that it made its way into the conversation I was having with the Lord:  "Lord, it is such a shame what we do with the beauty You have created and entrusted to us!  Look at the trash littered everywhere along here.  It is so sad."

Immediately I heard Him reply.  "Yes, it is sad.  It is also sad that those who know better and have ample opportunity to right another's wrong do nothing about it."  He followed this gentle statement with a question.  "If a professed belief does not result in action taken, how sure can you be of the validity of the belief?"

I felt instantly challenged inside by the quite voice that resonated through my spirit.  I started thinking about what He had spoken, quickly running over in my mind the things that I say I believe.  How many of them do I back up with what I do?  How many of them are only just...beliefs?

I was raised, as I would imagine a great many people were, that littering is flat out unacceptable.  I can remember as a little girl my mom telling me that everyone needs to do their part in keeping the earth clean and beautiful.  It is a belief I have held and intend to pass on to my children.  But what the Lord was talking about here was more than that.  I asked myself, how could I truly believe littering is wrong and yet walk past trash every day without even seeing it?  And if I can do that, am I not nearly as guilty of littering as those who originally threw the trash on the ground to start with?  I may have a belief but it is not strong enough that it has provoked me to take action.

I am not going to take the time to go through the many beliefs I examined during that short hour walk or the many places I found myself wanting.  Such secrets are between my Father and me.  But I would like to pose a few questions for my readers to ponder.

Do you believe that we should not break the law and that the officers who enforce it should be respected?  Then, what about speeding?  Or is the law only to be followed while we are being observed?  Action should follow belief.

This principle goes beyond the earthly realm into the spiritual.  Do you believe Jesus commanded us to go into all the world carrying the kingdom?  I would like to suggest to you that your neighborhood is a part of "all the world".  You do not have to travel to a far off place in order to fulfill His commandment.  You are surrounded by people of "all the world" every single day.  People who need to hear and EXPERIENCE who He is.   

Jesus has commanded us to love one another.  What about the people you do not get along well with at work, a client that constantly makes things difficult for you, or even a member of your own family?  Actions should follow beliefs.

Curry and I now take a trash bag with us once a week.  This is only one tangible change that has come forth from what the Lord spoke to me that day.  We get lots of people smiling and waving at us as we make our way along the ditch picking up the trash.  To those I would say this:  Do not thank me.  If you believe that littering is wrong, then find someplace to pick up the trash in your neighborhood.  Do something and be proud that your belief is not only a belief...but is also action.