Thursday, May 24, 2018

Muck and Mire

You can't find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm. 
(Proverbs 12:3)

Swamps aren't exactly my idea of a good place to make a home. There are lots of critters who'd just as soon eat me than leave me alone. There are pesky bugs, and way too much moisture. The opportunity for dry ground just isn't all that frequent - not to mention the unpleasantness of all that humidity and 'foul-smell' of boggy places. In the swamp are many obstacles that impact our ability to be on the footing that allows for solid growth. There are some lessons in the swamp, though - - - a couple of common obstacles found in a swamp are kind of like some of the obstacles we face in our daily walk.

A swamp is made up of water, reeds, muddy bogs, and lots of pesky critters. The water of the swamp is not known for its clarity or purity. In fact, it is known for the extreme, almost impenetrable  murkiness. Within the murky waters are all kinds of insatiable "creatures" that science has come to term as "leeches". These little wiggly creatures serve a purpose - to suck the very life out of that which they attach to! The swamps of life are full of those things that exist to suck life from those who wander into the murky waters - all too often unaware of what is just below the surface. Those leeching creatures are upon us faster than we know and are already hard at work long before we realize their attachment. It is important to note that we cannot be continuously immersed in the murky waters and not be affected by what is contained in their murkiness. We cannot expect to live pure lives (righteous lives) if we continually surround ourselves with the murkiness of sinful relationships, sinful practices, etc.

Within the waters of the swamp are all kinds of outgrowths - reeds that sway gently in the winds and provide shelter for birds looking to nest their young. Although they form a welcoming shelter to some  and appear to give a semblance of peaceful repose - providing a temporary place of refuge for some - they also have an ominous side to their existence. The reeds of a swamp can make progress difficult, preventing the one traveling the swamp from getting through their masses, or hiding terrorizing swamp creatures within their gently moving leaves. They look good, but hold some pretty terrible consequences. They can have an entangling effect for some who enter, making them easy prey. They blow in the wind, but they are sharp on the edges - one wrong move and you can realize a sharp gash that produces much pain. If you or I get entangled in them, movement forward in life may be limited, responses to issues dulled, and the opportunity for our endangerment and potential harm increased.

The muddy bottom of the swamp is the most telling feature of the swamp. It is filled with all manner of silt, fallen trees, rocks, uncertain drop offs, and bottom-crawling beasts that are just waiting for their prey. Muddy footing provides no soundness for our movement - it is easy to get "stuck" in a place where the footing is not sure. Silt gets easily stirred up with any kind of movement, making the already murky waters of the swamp even murkier. Vision becomes impossible. Tree limbs that have fallen into the recesses of the swamp act as hidden obstacles, just waiting to trip up the one who is unaware of their presence. Uncertain depths and unexplored recesses make and movement risky at best.

The writer of Proverbs reminds us that we cannot find firm footing in a swamp - in other words, we cannot expect to live in the midst of compromising stuff and not be affected by it. What waters do you find yourself navigating today? If they are a little too murky, you might ask if you have drifted into some swamp land - places we might just want to avoid at all cost because they are designed for our harm and not our good!  Just sayin!