Ten Trash Bags

Sharon JaynesA Sudden Glory, Balanced Living, Expectant Living, Identity in Christ, Living Free, Perspective 52 Comments

I wrote this devotion a while back, but I needed a reminder of what I learned that day. This New Year, wonder if you do too.

I set out to tackle a task I had put off for many years. I didn’t really want to do it at all. It was the job of cleaning out my ministry storage closet. A closet filled with boxes of memories collected over twenty years.

  • Old magazines with articles I had written dating back to 1996.
  • Thirty-six-inch vinyl posters of book covers beginning in 1999.
  • A 3-foot lighthouse used in a teaching on motherhood.
  • A treasure box of oyster shells mixed with a strand of pearls used in another teaching on what can happen with irritations that get under our skin.
  • Videos of past interviews from television programs that probably don’t even exist any longer.
  • A box of CDs from ten years of recording Proverbs 31 Ministries radio programs. “Hi, I’m Sharon Jaynes with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Have you ever…”

The programs played through my mind as I dumped one storage bin after another into plastic bags—pieces of my life into black drawstring Hefties. Corners of posters, magazines, cassettes, note-filled binders, and CDs poked through the plastic bags as if trying to escape.

Twenty years. Ten trash bags.

I put the bags out by the street and pondered my day’s work. You’d think I would have been happy to have cleaned out all that clutter, but something inside me ached.

“So that’s it then,” I whispered as I walked away from twenty years of accumulated memories.

The next day my heart felt just about as empty as the newly cleaned shelves…until I opened my email. A word of encouragement waited for me in my inbox. A woman told me about how something I had written had given her the courage to face another day. I won’t go into the details, but her email opened my eyes and my heart to something I already knew, but had forgotten for just a moment.

Those ten trash bags didn’t contain twenty years of ministry or memories. Why? Because memories can’t be put in a trash bag. Because people’s lives can’t be put in a trash bag.

It isn’t our accomplishments and accolades that matter in this life, but the people we impact and the lives we’ve loved.

Paul wrote:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 ESV).

And you can’t put that in a trash bag.

As you move into a new year, you might feel the urge to clean out some closets and let go of things you’ve been holding onto. If you decide to downsize, you might have to throw away some tangible reminders of times past.

But remember, things are things. Love never ends. And no one can take that away from you.

Heavenly Father, more than anything, I want to glorify Your name while here on this earth. Help me to never cling to earthly treasures, but to live open handed. Thank You for the reminder that the most important thing in this world is to love You with all my heart and to love my neighbor—those who cross my path.In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Have you ever known anyone to cling to something good such as a high school accomplishment, one mountaintop experience, or one accolade? How could clinging to such keep someone from moving ahead to the next thing God has for him or her?

When you leave this earth, and your worldly possessions are put in trash bags, who are the lives that you have touched that will always remain?


These moments of God speaking to me in the middle of the mundane is what I call a sudden glory—when God makes his presence known. Sudden glory moments shouldn’t be rare in our lives, but daily occurrences. If you would like to learn more about how to experience God’s presence in your everyday life, then A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More is just for you. It also comes with a study guide in the back.






© 2024 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

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Comments 52

  1. I love this writing. I just lost my mom after Thanksgiving and when I came back home I decided to go through some things and throw them away. My only child who I lost 12 years ago all of her things I decided to put in the burn pit. Her first dress, from kindergarten to high school all of those things. Her drawings to me that were put on the refrigerator for many years, her army stuff I still have more things to get rid of but as I lose humans here on earth and as I get older I realize none of these things matter. In the end all that won’t matter will be God and people! Asking God to help me to just love others and to serve him. Thank you for the reminder!

    1. So sorry for your losses. I pray your pain will become a vehicle to get you closer to Christ. May his love comfort and keep you!

    2. You have my greatest sympathy on losing a child. That is one thing in my life I have not experienced, but I have had that last count over about 50 losses in my life. I congratulate you for wanting to clean out because that is something I am finally getting my head back into the game to do. Blessings as you do this.

    3. Thank you Cindy for reminding me of what is truly important and it is not material things. I’m in day one of a seven days fast, Your comment is A Sudden Glory moment for me today. Warm wished and.blessings 2024.

    4. This message n your testimony really touched my heart. U known there is a saying be nice to everyone u don’t know wat someone is going through. I live by those words n I pray everyday that the light in me continues to shine encouraging every one to be with kind cause when u leave this earth u want to be remembered with love n kindness n peace. U want to people to say. She loved n lived for the Lord. Praying for u to stand strong n may the peace of our Father be with u🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  2. How timely and true. Such a vivid reminder of a fallacy that has been assigned to memories- suggesting that they can be erased by getting rid of material items. This reflection will help me to rid myself of items that have done their time with far less guilt or hesitation.

  3. Thank you for this poignant reminder to begin the new year. It is really true. All of the stuff we accumulate will one day be tossed, but the lives we touch can never be discarded.

  4. I don’t want to handle my problems with my emotions. I want to seek my FATHER this time and hear HIS voice clearly, so I will walk in HIS truth and peace.

  5. I so needed to read this today. I’m packing up my house of 23 years and it’s a very emotional chore. I love the reminder that these are just things. I want to believe that someone else might want or need them but fit the most part that is not going to be the case and I will need to fill my own trash bags!

  6. Goodmorning
    Read and it’s funny on you think holding on to material things matter ,even past scars .
    But when the bandage falls your wound is heal,but somehow you hold to pain as if it’s a reminder.
    Am coming to learn it was a process to met God throughout everything endure. He was always presented with His arms opened widely.
    Stood stuck in living in a hotel room waiting for the Lord Jesus to rescue me, but how if am not knocking on His door, or seeking where to go or even asking .
    Thank you
    Memories will always be part of me ,but what I do with Memories to serve others is more important ♥️

  7. Wow thank you so much for this devotional. I recently too had to do this with my life as I moved from one state to another and still think of the bags left for trash. This is helpful and allows me to move on in ministry as well.

  8. Wow thank you so much for this devotional. I know this is difficult however have seen how God works for our best.

  9. The link to the book, Sudden Glory, is not responding.

    Thank you for the reminder today, that our life and careers were not a waste of time….but memories of people who we touched and lived and those who touched us!

  10. Thank you for this reminder Sharon ❤❤ a year ago we began the mountainous journey of clearing out my family home that had been my parents for over 50 years… at least 5 family dynamics had lived there. 2 dumpsters… countless heavy duty garbage bags.. runs to the recycling center and car loads of donations to charitable thrift stores. Finally a surplus company took away the remaining furniture and mom’s pianos. The house was 4 hours from where we lived and we could only work 3 or 4 days at a time.
    Every closet held a treasure or memory… cherished memento from my parents… and many ‘what is this’ moments 🤔
    The sale was a bitter-sweet time…

  11. I had read this devotion sometime ago in Sudden Glory. Thank you for this fresh reminder that things are just things. The memories never go away. I am at an age where it is time to let ‘stuff’ go. This has been a helpful reminder.

      1. Throw away one thing a day..it could be an old card given you..sounds like I am saying you will be at this forever..But once you feel the freedom you felt after throwing one thing away;The black garbage bag will be full. Don’t be hard on yourself…seek the Lord to help you and He is our yolk bearer.

  12. Dear Sharon – your article this morning really resonates with me as we are having to downsize and purge many ‘things’ of what we’ve kept in our home of 20+ years! It is love and the impact that we have on our families and friends lives! Thank you, as what you say in today’s message, might help me in continuing with my letting go of ‘stuff’! 🙏🏻❤️

  13. I found the book, A Sudden Glory, to be excellent!!
    I highly recommend.
    One truth that has stayed with me from the book (and was very convicting) was , we will not see His hand at work in our lives if we aren’t even looking for it.
    I am alert now, and every day I am looking. God is so faithful.

  14. Thank you, Sharon, for this reminder!
    This impacted me when you initially published it. And, timing perfect to read it again!
    You are so right! Memories and the way
    we have loved others; not in those trash bags!
    As I discard old college papers and donate late loved one’s possessions, will
    give thanks for the opportunities and pray that those receiving items are blessed!

  15. Thank you for re-sharing, Sharon! I read this when you posted it a few years back, but needed the reminder. Happy New Year! God’s Blessings on you and your ministry! I look forward to your weekly devotions.

  16. So appropriate for the new year. This task is so so hard for me. But with your fresh look on things I hope to be able to do some purging of the house. Maybe make room for more memories. Thank you

  17. Reading that you did this, what you saw and how you felt, broke my heart. I can’t understand WHY did you do this? I have a trauma attachment to EVERY THING!!! It is incredibly difficult for me to get rid of stuff. I might need that. Anyway, I appreciate this very timely devotion. I hope I can use it to move forward in freeing myself.

  18. After 49 years of marriage my husband passed unexpectedly. I was left with so many things and stuff of years of collected things and memories
    I sold most of it all and had such a guilt feeling but knowing things are just things.
    Thanks for your devotion it really touched my heart.

  19. Wow! Our God is so Good! I am 74 and have set the goal of decluttering our entire home this year, as well as marking items that I would like to remain in the family (suggested by my wise son.) What a great, needed lesson this is for me! Things are just things. Our focus is to love God and to love others! I will be ordering the book!

    Thank you for sharing your heart, Sharon.

  20. I really needed this today. I retired from a ministry I loved 2 days ago and God hasn’t really given me a new assignment yet. Cleaning out my office was difficult, as was leaving behind a team and work that I loved, but I know God called me out of it. Thank you for the reminder that my impact didn’t end when I left, nor did His.

  21. Thank you so much for this devotiional. I have never before lo0ked upon that passage except with marriage vows in mind. Never seen it at the end of a marriage relationship. I lost my husband of 55 years just before Christmas last year and this one was very hard to get through emotionally. I have been struggling to regain my equilibrium all year – thankfully I have family around me and a good church family too. I know what I need to do and I do try to, but truthfully I am finding it very hard. Today I look forward to using this passage to relearn how to fully reach out to others who are hurting too.

    I wiish you and yours a wonderful 2024 and thank you for this ministry.

  22. I’m crying tears of gratitude as I read this this morning!! I just started doing just that on Sunday and have been struggling to get thru!! God knows exactly what I need to hear at the exact time, He’s so gracious and always gives me gentle pushes and reminders about things I have prayed about and even just thoughts I have had. He cares about every little detail! Thank you God for using Sharon this morning to help bring my closet clean to continue moving forward ❤️

  23. Thank you for this message ! I needed this message today! I am having heart surgery on Monday and have been thinking of all the things I hold on to that clutter my life. So this year I want to make my faith be the center of my life ! Thank you!

  24. I very much identify with your devotional but not so much from my life but the life of my Father. He was a church starter. He started over 300 churches, a Christian College, the largest Camp (conference center) in the state. He sent hundreds of missionaries all over the world. He started a christian retirement center so that pastors and Missionaries would have a place to go when it was time to leave the mission field. It was right next to the college so that they could be a resource for those in seminary He gave his life for 27 years as leader. when he retired the man who took his place was jealous and worked diligently to erase my father’s ministry & name. I was so angry and harbored resentment until God took hold of me and in his quiet voice said…”my dear child, NO one can erase what your earthly father did in my name. His work continues today on every continent and lives are still coming to know me though his work”. It is the dash between my father’s birth and his home going to heaven that holds eternal worth and man cannot destroy it. No one needs to know my fathers name because it is written in the book of life and God will continue to work through what he did and the lives continue to come to Christ through that “dash”. I am so blessed to have been raised by a Godly father and mother. Thank you for your reminder.

  25. I have been “cleaning out” for several months now- anticipating a move closer to family. And surprisingly I have no regrets. It’s only stuff and it’s the memories that matter. But I have kept lots of stuff from my very hurtful divorce- mean emails to & from my husband, nasty cards from him, my journal writings that are just aching with hurt. I used to think I was saving them so I knew what he did to me and our children was real. It wasn’t just something I made up. My hurt was unbearable. But now I want them gone! I don’t want to die and have my kids find them. I can’t do that to them. So I know God is nudging me in that direction, and your devotion has helped.
    God Bless you.
    PS: I’m really good…..because God has been so good to me.

  26. When going through items of my late parents, there were some I was emotionally attached to but not realistically going to use. My dear friend suggested taking pictures of those items then donating them so they could be used by others. It was a good way to let go but still have the memory digitally.

  27. You hit the nail on the head. I was thinking of cleaning out cupboards this morning & since my names Sharon I better “hop to it”!
    Thanks for the great devotionals Sharon♥️✝️

  28. I have wanted to talk with someone over a week and have been praying about it and did not know how to start the conversation. I just read your devotion and LOVE jumped out at me. I just had the conversation and I started it with. I love you and …. The conversation went beautifully. I so love how God meets our requests in his time. Your devotion and words were an answer to my prayer!

  29. This so, so true. My example is kind of silly sounding, but recently I threw out a board game that some friends and I used to play in college every Sunday night the first few months we were in college. I graduated college in 1993…so it’s been a while. Over the years and a few moves from place to place, the game moved with me, but pieces began to be lost or broken as the box fell apart. I kept it though, thinking “one day I’m going to play that again”. Finally, I realized the game was just a physical manifestation of my memories. I finally let go of the game, but cherish the memories dearly. As a compromise, I kept just a very fee of the playing cards that went with the game and taped them in my journal….just to have something tangible of those memories.

  30. Thanks Sharon for all your devotions and encouragement in this season. It has been a tough year for me and so looking forward to the new and hope that it will be better. God has shown me many things this past year and so I have learned to be content in all things and that God is the one love of my life who will never forsake me or turn me down or turn me away. There are many that have and so it is a comfort to know I have a God who cares for me and sees me, El Roi! He is so good to us and is good to have you on board as a mentor and teacher. Thanks for all you do!

  31. Great Message Sharon!

    I really enjoyed reading your post and it was a good New Year kick of reminder insight!

    A good reminder to refresh and move forward with the refreshing new season and Live forward to reap the abundant life. Always sow good seed giftings in others, by good graces intention and give permission to the new better forward.
    love wins long term, when we access this source with intention, we can touch others.
    God is good all the time .and will impact our life. We are so Blessed!

  32. Thank you for speaking God’s words of encouragement and perspective to me today. My husband and I are moving into our newly constructed home. I’m going through boxes I packed up 7 years ago after my divorce from my first husband incl. items from our adult children’s childhoods, my own childhood, and from my parents who divorced right after me due to my father’s infidelity. This greatly strained our relationship. I lost my father 4 mos. ago. Such an emotional roller coaster digging up memories from my entire life that trigger such a mixture of joy and grief simultaneously. I’ve struggled so much to let go of things b/c somehow it feels like I’m dismissing my life and their lives. I’ve felt esp. sad and empty today. Yet I’ve lived without these items for 7 years or longer. So thank you for this timely message to remember the love and memories that have been and will continue to be there regardless.

  33. What a blessing to read this today! Currently I am pulling many trash bags out and filling them with my husbands stuff to donate them. My husband died 13 days after being diagnosed with cancer. I’m still in a state of denial and numb to the core. Yes, the “things” bring back memories, but also anger. Please pray for me as I go through the grieving process. I need Gods divine guidance on a day to day basis.

  34. Thank you for this! I’ve been praying for a word from God to help with letting go of old stuff. It’s just what I needed!

  35. Thank you so much for such a good reminder. I have started going through my preschool class materials and I haven’t taught for 7 years. It hurts but I need to move on in my life and see what God wants me to do. I need to focus on my love on my family and where I work.
    God is good!

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