I don't live in a region where we get a whole lot of flooding - we get monsoons and the dry riverbeds flood for a period of time, but it resolves quickly because of the dryness of the parched deserts. When I see the devastation of flooding on some TV newscast - homes under water, people left with only the few items they salvaged before the waters came - it seems so devastating. Yet, I see people rebuild all the time after these natural disasters. They shovel out the mud, push back the debris, re-plaster the walls, and plant their crops once again. I kind of liken these "natural disaster" floods to the similar type of destruction which comes in the spiritual sense whenever we allow sin to get an inroad into our lives. It starts as a few sprinkles or a little trickle, but soon ends up being a whole lot of trouble! Some of the time, digging out of our mess is monumentally difficult and rebuilding what has been damaged is even more daunting!
Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. (Psalm 32:5-6 MSG)
One thing I see with those who rebuild after these natural disasters is their reliance upon their neighbors and those in their community who come to their aid. For a while, they pool their resources, helping to re-establish their lives as a "team" rather than as a lonely survivor trying to do it all alone. Those who rebuild well are those who have the support of others. I don't think this is dissimilar to the process God wants his kids to use in "rebuilding" after sin has left its destructive "debris" behind in our lives. In fact, he places us in "community" because we need each other's strengths and talents. Each plays a part in helping us to let go of our past and to establish ourselves well in a fresh start.
I speak often of letting go of the past. Why? If we don't, we will always be experiencing the effects of it. It is like the person who just moves back into the flooded house, never pulling out the drywall and plaster in order to allow the "inside" of the house to dry out. In time, the mold will appear. Those tiny spores will replicate and replicate until one day, the house will be uninhabitable. The stuff we "cycle through" over and over in our lives is actually kind of like these "spores" - we cannot get rid of them until we uncover their hiding places!
Uncovering is hard - for it exposes us. What do walls provide? They offer "division", so one room is separated from another. They allow for partitioning off of one area from the other because - that way you can keep certain "stuff" in one area (such as a bed in a bedroom) and other "stuff" in another (such as the pots and pans in the kitchen). Guess what - we use "walls" in our inner man in much the same manner. We "partition off" stuff we don't want to deal with right now, placing that memory, guilt, or problematic behavior over their behind the wall. We might be reminded of it periodically, but generally it is hidden from our immediate focus, so we think it is dealt with.
If you are like me, you have a garage with cabinets. Whenever something breaks and I don't have the time to deal with it right now, I place it in the garage. Usually it is on the workbench. It remains in plain view - because I need to get it fixed. Over a couple week's time, the bench can fill up - some of the stuff is new stuff I have to use around the house and yard on a regular basis, but the broken item is also still there. When I need more room, I usually don't put the new stuff away, I just move the broken item to the cabinet, vowing to fix it later. I wonder how many of us treat our problem areas in life in much the same manner? For a while - they are out in the open. Then one day, we move them behind some barrier. Out of sight, out of mind. Or at least we think it will be!
One day, just like the hidden mold in behind the plaster of the flooded house, we begin to experience the effects of the thing we refused to deal with when it first happened. In time, we begin to realize the partitions are no longer going to be allowed to stand any longer. Tearing those down presents some pretty challenging moments in our lives. When the walls come down, the spores are exposed. They have the potential to "reseed" our lives with all kinds of stuff we'd rather not have "growing" inside us! So, we need the protective barrier of the Holy Spirit's guidance and the wisdom of the Word to help us "uncover" the hidden stuff in a way which will not cause us to "recontaminate" our lives.
Two lessons we learn from the flood waters: 1) You can deal with it when the issues are fresh, or 2) You can deal with its effects for a long time even after it appears to be all gone! To deal with it when the issues are fresh may mean a whole lot more work at the time, but remember this - when it is fresh, the stuff which has a tendency to get hidden is just not going to have a place to hide! Just sayin!