Yesterday I had the chimney cleaned; when finished the technician spotted a problem: holes in the smoke shelf. The reason this is bad is that the smoke is not drawn up through the flue but flows into the attic, creating all kinds of problems. Correcting it costs money – an unanticipated expense – but it is a safety issue. Then, I learned that new housing codes require smoke detectors in the bedrooms and not just in the hall: more money.
Nobody would know if we did not correct these problems – that is, until the emergencies ensued –such as carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire. Suddenly I am in peril, but worse, I may have put other people at risk because of my unwise thrift.
Dealing with some of my character defects is similar. Having been cleansed and forgiven by God’s grace in Christ, I daily learn of spiritual holes – habits, hang-ups and hurts – some that persist below the level of consciousness; they are as pernicious as those in smoke shelf, and as threatening as insufficient smoke alarms. Yet, if no one knows about them by me, and if I am only hurting myself, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that neglecting the hidden stuff does hurt other people, whether I it or not. My attitude, my anxiety, causes pain, and it leads to death: a formidable assertion, but one in which the psalmist concurs (See Proverbs 14:12)
Repairing the smoke shelf will cost $700.00, and direct the fumes and smoke outside the house, out of the chimney; installing extra detectors will cost several hundred more dollars, and cut the risk of a catastrophe should a fire started behind a closed door. I will not be willfully putting myself, loved ones, or firemen at risk.
Asking God to shine His light on my heart may cost the sacrifice of ingrained habits. However, by His words, then “. . . I can see where I'm going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” (Psalm 119:105 from THE MESSAGE )
By those same words, He disarms me from hurting you. (Psalm 139:23-24)
The blessing is my repairs are wholly free – enabled by His grace, if I am willing.
God's Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You'll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.
There's more: God's Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.
(Psalm 19:10-14 from THE MESSAGE)