A few weeks ago, we noticed something frustrating about our vacuum cleaner—that instead of picking up dirt, dust, and various tidbits of unwanted elements, it was spitting them all out in an avid display of “economic redistribution” all over our floor. The harder we tried to get that vacuum cleaner to devour the debris, the more it spewed it out, like a toddler rejecting “icky” food.
Rather than continuing to produce a mess, we examined the vacuum cleaner and discovered the source of the problem-- an accumulation of hair, dust, etc. in the machine, clogging it up. We could’ve just left it and said, “Oh, that’s why it doesn’t work right”, but then we would’ve still had a useless vacuum cleaner(!) So instead, my husband Tom took it apart as much as necessary, and unclogged it by removing all the gunk with a wire clothes hanger. Then we tried it again on our floor, and it worked! It did what the manufacturer had designed it to do—it picked up dirt and debris instead of spewing it out!
What a great illustration for our lives! Our Manufacturer, God, has designed each of us for a specific purpose. When our parts are well-maintained, without any blockage, we function properly and perform at our maximum potential, benefitting society the way God intended us to.
But what if we don’t maintain our spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health? What if we just let them deteriorate and break down through neglect? Or, as in the case of our vacuum cleaner, what if we let daily bits of sin accumulate in our hearts and spirits because they seem “too little to matter”? Imagine every wrong thought, word, or action, plus all the stuff we should’ve said but didn’t, piling up day after day. Our hearts would resemble garbage dumps in cities like Manila!
What if we don’t even notice the accumulation until we’re so clogged with sin we start spewing forth all kinds of nasty “debris” instead of removing it? Wouldn’t we rather be instruments of cleansing and healing in a corrupt and hurting world than spreading more misery around us when there’s already too much there?
What’s the solution? First, engage in preventative healthcare-- as it says in Song of Solomon 2:15, “Catch the little foxes… that ruin our vineyard” We do this by having daily devotional times of Scripture reading and prayer-- listening to whatever the Lord wants to teach us. We can do this any time of the day, preferably checking in with Him more than once.
Don’t worry, even if it involves some kind of conviction or admonishment, He always does it with love and encouragement. If you’re feeling condemnation instead, you’re not hearing from God, you’re hearing the counterfeit voice of the Enemy.
We also prevent sin accumulation by daily examining our hearts. Let the Lord shine His light on sin-stained areas we’ve been blind to or denied (Ps. 139:23-24). Wherever we see sin, confess it. 1 Jn. 1:9 assures us that “He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” He will also “create in [us] a clean heart and renew a right spirit in [us] if we ask Him to (Ps. 51:10). Daily cleansing is always easier than drastic measures (picture daily dental hygiene versus the drill!).
Still, none of us can stay unclogged on our own. We need accountability—someone close to us who’ll point out areas we’re letting sin pile up. A spouse, a family member, a friend, anyone who loves us too much to let us get clogged and malfunction. If we give them permission to speak into our lives, they’ll help us “clean house” and keep it clean.
If, for whatever reason, we do find ourselves clogged up, unable to function properly, and spewing forth all kinds of junk we didn’t even know we had in us, thankfully there’s the ultimate Maintenance Man—call on Him and He’ll clean us out, even if it means some painful digging and scraping to remove the clog! That sure beats not “working right” and remaining useless. When He’s done cleaning and repairing, He’ll give us a second, and third, and many more chances to do what He designed us for.
Just like we’ve done with our unclogged vacuum cleaner.