Over twenty years ago, I remember taking a train from Shanghai to Bejing, China. Having tidy American instincts, I was careful to make sure every scrap of garbage went into the trash basket on my car. Now, I do confess to being a bit queasy about the fact that our “restroom” was simply a tiny, private compartment with room to squat over a hole in the floor, but I wasn’t shocked outright until I woke up the next morning and watched an efficient little stewardess whisk open a window and heave the contents of the trash can out onto the track. More horrifying yet was watching a group of curious children running toward us from the hovels near the tracks, competing for any bits of left over apple cores, sandwich crusts, or other tiny treasures among the garbage. I saw one child hold up a rubber band with glee, obviously feeling triumphant over his new toy. Over ten years ago, I remember taking a car ride along the sunny highways of rural, southern Italy, only to discover that a “rest area” meant a place where you could park your car long enough to eat a picnic or go in search of some privacy for relieving yourself. Toilet paper was strewn everywhere, and the heavy scent of relief without rain gave the idea of “savin’ up for a rainy day” new meaning and appeal. I suspect both of these countries have more modernized ways of dealing with waste now, but I bring up this gross subject because the waterfowl on our lake (who haven’t yet conspired to provide rest areas along their flight paths) have taken to fouling our dock!
When the kids were younger, we didn’t have a dock, but there’s always been a raft in the middle of the lake, which was so dirty it was unusable. The kids nicknamed it the “Rest Area.” This summer, we didn’t have much trouble with waterfowl trashing our dock, but now I realize it was only because Stephen was staining the dock in his spare time over a period of weeks, and the scent must have deterred the geese and ducks from partying down at our house. No longer true, it seems like every night Alan and I can scrub the deck after our swim, and the next morning it’s trashed again. SO FRUSTRATING! So, this morning I scrubbed it down mightily, will let it dry and then start staining it again…only about a sixth of it each week, hoping the toxic scent of preservatives will keep the migrating flocks away. (If it doesn’t work, I’ll let you know, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to.)
Getting rid of the spiritual waste in our lives may bear some similarities. It’s a challenge! It takes constant vigilance. And, often our methods are totally inadequate. For instance, it doesn’t help to bottle up my sinful thoughts in a spiritual trash can overnight and then heave everything out the window in a flow of vile speech the next morning. Likewise, I’ll just make the whole area around me “stink” if I simply relieve myself wherever I happen to be when I feel the urge. Better to wait for the proper time and place.The stain for our dock is “redwood” colored, and as I worked it occurred to me that the best way to deal with evil is to wash it (with the water of the Word), scrub it clean (partnering with the Holy Spirit, who’s the only One who can really cleanse our hearts), and then applying red stain (the blood of Christ). If you, like me, find a constant need to wash away debris from your mind, I hope we can be both be encouraged to keep working at it and consciously applying the blood of the Lamb as a preservative from sin! Blessings on your “Labor Day!” May we “arrest” the rest areas of our lives! 🙂
“Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:11).
“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?“
(2 Corinthians 2:15-16)