What are You Doing About These "Leftovers"

What leftovers have you been saving that need to be thrown out in the trash?

Jean Coleman is a pastor's wife from Laurel, Maryland, and the editor of The Pastor's Helpmate, a newsletter for pastoral wives. This article appears in the Pastor's Helpmate. Used by permission. 

What's in this little glass dish in the back of the refrig­erator?" my husband asked. He handed me a small glass con­tainer.

Lifting the lid, I carefully studied the contents. They were sea green in color with a cover­ing of fuzzy moss. I had never seen anything like it before--or smelled anything like it either. "Maybe green beans?" I ven­tured.

Jack pulled out a second con­tainer. "How about this one?" 

I examined the small jar he held in his hand. It was another mystery food item, but this one was a brownish-yellow covered with slime. Could it possibly have been a piece of meat? It would have taken the skill of a patholo­gist to discover the origin of this very dead object.

"Were you saving these for a special surprise dinner?" he asked sarcastically. "Or perhaps growing some homemade peni­cillin for medicinal purposes?"

Stooping down, I peered into the refrigerator and spotted sev­eral more "glass coffins" toward the back of the bottom shelf. "I've been meaning to throw out these things," I explained, "but I just never got around to doing it." I glanced at my watch. "And I don't have time now either. I'll take care of it tomorrow." And I quickly slammed the refrigerator door, allowing the "deceased" to spend more time in the morgue.

How long had I been storing that rotting food in the fridge? Probably for weeks. Obviously it should have never been saved in the first place, but I have a habit of saving a little drib of this or a drab of that. My leftovers con­tinue to mount up, unused and forgotten until they are unfit for human consumption. It was cer­tainly no surprise to me that all those little coffins were hiding in there, but it was just too much trouble to scrape them out and wash the dishes. So they re­mained, filled with putrid and decomposing food.

Occasionally I would even open the lids of the little contain­ers to take a look inside, but then I would quickly close them up and put them back in the refrig­erator to rot a little more. Out of sight, out of mind!

Yet I had to admit it was em­barrassing to have someone else discover the decaying matter I was saving. It was one thing if I knew, but quite another to have my husband uncover my secret coffins.

What do you have stored away in the refrigerator of your mind? Have you allowed bitterness, resentment, prejudice, and hate to remain when they should have been tossed out long ago? It's amazing what a short time it takes for a little stored up rejec­tion to turn into some really repulsive resentment and bitterness. Even a small amount of prejudice shoved into the dark recesses of your mind as a child, can be brought forth later as hate-covered anger and violence.

As pastors' wives, we know that we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds. We acknowledge our responsibility to confess and be cleansed of our sins, to examine ourselves and remove any corrupt thing we find within us. But many of us tend to be "savers." A church member speaks a cutting word or makes an inconsiderate comment, and that little glass coffin is right there, ready and waiting to keep the offense stored away. The worst part is that the longer the offense sits in the dark corner of your mind, the more corrupt it will become.

We currently have an inter­esting situation in our church. Several months ago one of our long-time and deeply-rooted families decided to transfer their membership to a neighboring church. "We feel we've learned all we can here, so it's time to move on to another church," they informed us.

Needless to say, I had some difficulties with their departure. I battled the usual resentment, rejection, bitterness, and anger that so often seeks to come upon me when members leave the church. But after much prayer, I was finally able to release them in my spirit. After all, it is Jesus who builds His church, and it is Jesus who knows where all the stones fit.

I really thought that I had dealt with all of my negative feel­ings toward these ex-members, but unfortunately, I still had a few leftovers that I stored away—little coffins filled with unre­solved resentment and bitterness. The family was gone, and so I stood shakily upon the worldly adage, "Out of sight, out of mind." I even managed to forget that several glass coffins were hidden in the refrigerator of my mind.

But it seems that our runaway family occasionally gets home­sick, and so they reappear every month or so at special meetings or movies that we have at the church. It never fails to shock me when I walk into the sanctuary and see them sitting there, just like they never left. They even come over to greet me with a hug. And to make matters worse, at the close of the service, they stand around chatting with everyone, relating how happy they are in their new church.

Have you noticed that when a refrigerator door is opened, the light goes on? And these frequent encounters with this family, seem to open the door into my hidden thoughts. The light goes on to re­veal my secret resentment toward them, and I sense the stench of the small containers holding my leftovers.

I find myself walking to the sanctuary down the back hall to avoid meeting them, and leaving immediately at the close of the service so I won't have to spend time exchanging pleasantries.

"What are they doing here?" I murmur to myself. "If they don't like this church, why don't they just stay away! The nerve of them to come to this meeting!" Just the sight of them can cause my blood pressure to rise. The glass coffins are opened and the corruption spills into my spirit. And my hus­band is right there to see it!

"You've got to do something about these people," I demand of Jack. "It isn't right for them to come to our meetings! And who knows what they're saying to everyone! Do something!"

And my husband looks into my refrigerator, amazed at all the garbage that is still stored there. "Don't worry about it," he pa­tiently exhorts me. "It's wonder­ful that they feel they can still come here. It shows we're a lov­ing church where everyone is welcome."

So properly chastened, I de­termine to clean out my refrig­erator and fill myself with good food instead of rotting leftovers. It is clearly time to become cleansed through the washing of the water of the Word, time to fill my shelves with some fresh fruit of the Spirit.

The scriptures remind us that we are to examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28). What leftovers have you been saving that need to be thrown out in the trash? Why not take a few minutes right now to open the door of your mind, and check inside for any glass coffins that might contain leftover unfor­givenss, resentment, or bitter­ness. Clean out the old things and once more fill your heart with love, peace, and joy.

Jean Coleman is a pastor's wife from Laurel, Maryland, and the editor of The Pastor's Helpmate, a newsletter for pastoral wives. This article appears in the Pastor's Helpmate. Used by permission.