The success of this week’s “The 7 Challenge” was hard to measure. Many of my goals for this week (gardening, composting, recycling) are things that I’m very limited in my ability to do. I live in an apartment so I have no land on which to plant or compost, no recycling bins that I have direct access to. While I have secured containers to begin a container garden, it is taking me quite awhile to get everything in place to plant, much less see growth. (Have I mentioned I live in Phoenix and it is July???) I have been keeping compost items in a sealed container in my fridge until I can drop them off with my friend who composts. I am GLAD to report that when you are eating whole foods, composting really becomes a form of recycling; and you have far fewer items (paper, plastic, cans) to recycle.
This week is truly something that I intend to carry into the future with me, because I really don’t feel like I’ve even begun to do all that I can. Given that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t turned on my car radio (last week’s fast challenge) until yesterday, I think it will not be hard to keep on keeping on with all of these. The major of the conviction of this week’s lesson came not from what I was doing, but what I read.
The book of Isaiah is filled with reminders of our disobedience. It pulls together the threads of our arrogance, pride, depriving the poor, storing up treasures, and having no respect for the work of His hands and says (in Is 24:6), “Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.” The earth is suffering because of our sin, our greed. As Jen Hatmaker said, “I have harmed others by refusing responsibility here, prioritizing convenience over good citizenship.” We are a wealthy nation who assumes resources are always available for purchase. We exploit poor countries to take what we want (oil, gold, gems) and leave them with a land stripped bear. Most shameful of all, we leave these people to fend for themselves when they are the least financially capable of doing it. What do we care as long as we get reams of paper to waste ad nauseum or pretty rings that came at the cost of someone else’s blood?
This week has not only taught me how easy it is to waste less, but how necessary it is. Again, it comes down to being aware, making a conscious effort. Am I doing everything I can to be responsible with the resources I have been given (whether it’s the soil at my feet or the money in my wallet)? Am I choosing convenience over considering how my choices affect humankind? This week has been a heavy one, or maybe it’s a cumulative effect of all of the weeks up ’til now. At any rate, I fully feel the responsibility of walking on this planet; of living a life of obedience so that my sin doesn’t exploit the poor and cause the earth to suffer; of not causing harm by my mindless choices.
Next week’s challenge is on spending. I can only spend money at 7 different vendors for the week. It sounds easy, but think about it. Look at your checkbook or your credit card statement and see how many different places you have made purchases in the last month. My 7 places are: the gas station, online bill pay, the local farmer’s market, emergency medical care (just in case), Fry’s Marketplace, Fletcher’s Auto (just in case), and Sprouts. One bonus, that I absolutely love, is that you are free to spend charitably to your heart’s content; but the spending must benefit someone else, and not my own wants. Unfortunately my bank account will be rather limiting in that area, but we’ll see what happens!