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Cleaning Out What Has Hardened

August 20, 2008

Old food clung with all its strength to the side of my bowl. I scrubbed and scrubbed in vain. Alas, I turned on the water and poured in some soap. This mess would have to soak for some time until I would be able to scrape out the muck and at last see a clean bowl.

As I was doing this simple task, I thought of how we do the same thing to our hearts emotionally and spiritually. We allow junk to build up until it hardens and cannot be easily removed. Scraping out the junk takes effort. We must soak in love and truth from the Lord, allowing it to seep into the pores of our soul and heart in order that our hearts may be softened enough to scrape out the mess.

You see, that argument turned into an offense which became a grudge, eventually planting a seed of bitterness. That little sin, well, he soon became a great desire which formed into a habit, eventually shutting out the light, leading to greater sin. Those passing thoughts– well, they soon became more than just passing thoughts; they began to stick around. They began to push out the truth. In fact, they became the posing “truth” and formed new and unhealthy ways of thinking.

Meanwhile, the heart hardened more and more, just as the food in that bowl did the longer I left it alone. You see, the things that we sometimes shrug off, end up being our greatest enemy. In Jackie Pullinger’s book, Chasing the Dragon, she explains the way of darkness through drugs:

“Every addict has a love-hate relationship with his drug. His mind despises it and its hold over him. His body longs for it when deprived for too long and cheats his mind into seeing it as a salvation. No one ever knows when he crosses the line from ‘playing’ with drugs to being dependent on them. One novice vomits the first time and tries again to see whether it improves. Another feels little effect and imagines that he can take it again quite safely. He starts with a small dose, but what satisfies at first is soon not enough and he needs to take more to prevent withdrawal pains. He takes bigger doses more and more often until he is arrested or dies.”

It starts out small…and eventually leads to death–whether it’s a physical death or spiritual death. Either way, the walking dead or grave stricken man–they are both dead.

Jackie continues to explain the allure of the drug itself:

“It was a degrading scene, but I was fascinated and attracted. I felt the pull of the drug that every potential addict knows and which defies logic. He knows it kills; he knows it leads to addiction and depravity. He knows all the arguments with his head, but he still has to try it. And having tried once, he has to continue until he is part of the mystique that drew him. […] I felt the pull of the drug. It was attractive. It was demonic.”

We must continually be pruning our hearts and keeping them cleaned out. We must allow the Lord to reveal the state of our hearts. What seemed trivial to start, may soon grow roots that intertwine, running so deep that ripping them out will cause immense pain– pain that could have easily been prevented from the beginning.

Be honest before the Lord. Lay your heart bare before the Lord. He will clean you up in the kindest way. He may discipline you, but only out of love. He will pour ointment on the wounds and bandage you properly.

During the time of cleaning–remember that the bowl had to soak and so does your heart. It takes time. You must soak in the Lord’s presence. You must allow Him to work things out fully. Are you willing?

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