Several weeks ago, I perceived a distinct unpleasantness in our garage.
It began as an odd odor, and progressed into a full blown muggy funk. For a few days we left the garage door open, but as the stench lingered, my family simply altered its traffic pattern toward the patio. Avoidance of this unknown source was not a suitable long-term solution.
“We must figure out what stinks so badly!” I implored.
Responses ranged from, “It’s gross,” to “I don’t know what it is; I can’t help.”
One little darling admitted, “It smells like somethin’ dead. I’m scared.”
“Well, it’s not getting any better!” I pleaded with the mass of denial. We had looked in all the usual places: it was not a shoe or a cooler or a ball bag. So what and where was it?
Finally, we decided to draw straws to choose an investigator. Since my oldest son’s olfactory senses have been numbed by years of dirty socks and body functions, he received the honorary short straw. We wished him well as he paused at the laundry room door, then we watched as our courageous, selfless firstborn headed out to solve this repulsive mystery. (It should be noted that his courage and perceived selflessness may have emerged from my “no meals ’til we figure this out” ultimatum. Who can know for sure?)
After quite a while, he came in and walked directly to the kitchen sink where he washed his hands – FAR longer than he typically does. As my blue-eyed teen somberly dried his hands with a towel, the family gathered, hoping to hear of his discoveries.
In his preciously thick, East Texan drawl, he began to speak.
“Umm. You guys remember last week when Mom asked me to bring in milk from the deep freeze? Well … ummm, the milk was behind … So, like a month ago, you guys remember … I don’t know if I told y’all that I caught a monster bass over in Mr. Bobby’s pond. Anyway, I thought about getting it mounted, so I wrapped it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer. So, like … I guess I set it in front of the milk. And when Mom wanted the milk the other day, I had to set the fish on top of the fridge to dig out the milk because … you guys know how ice sorta builds up around things in the freezer? ”
Each member of the family stood still and stared in wide-eyed amazement as he spoke. Some seemed satisfied by the poetic justice of his coincidental short straw and guilty status. Others were distracted by his unorthodox manner of story-telling which exhibited a complete lack of chronological coherence. We raised our eyebrows and collectively leaned in closer – prompting him to finish his narrative quickly and happily.
“So … I guess I got the milk, and brought it in. But I guess I totally forgot about the fish. But … uh … I don’t think I can get it mounted now, so I just took it out and buried it by the back fence. It had gotten juice all on top of the freezer too, so I cleaned that up with some paper towels and threw them away. It still kinda stinks out there, though. I should probably get some Lysol or somethin’, but it’s all good. … Are the Rangers winning?”
Several months ago, I perceived a distinct unpleasantness in my life. Its lingering funkiness indicated an unknown source beyond the usual challenges of everyday life.
I tried to air it out. I tried to ignore it. But ultimately, I resolved to seek out and eliminate the source of ugliness. The process of sin-search was not fun. I had to be brave. Deep down I knew there would be no nourishment or growth until I dealt with the mess.
Ultimately, I found an unforgiven wound – though once carefully preserved, it was now exposed and rotting – affecting my environment in the most undesirable way. Once God led me to the source of my pain, He walked with me as I dealt with it properly. Not by concealing it in plastic, frozen in time and space, but by burying it deep within the humble, loosened soil of my life. It would die away and become the richness of fertile ground.
And the Father began a new thing in me.
Seeds of grace…
nestled in the compost of sorrow turned to joy,
watered by the Word,
warmed by the presence of the Son,
strengthened by the wind of the Spirit
… bursting forth into fragrant flowers and fresh fruit.
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:40
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” – James 4:10
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
“Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13
“There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration … My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess them to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” – Psalm 32:3-5
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” – Matthew 5:6