Pesky Places

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As we transition into a new season, whether we are in the northern or southern hemisphere, many of us get involved with the ritual of putting some things away and getting other things out that we need for the new season. Most of us entering autumn are stowing away the summer gear we used over the past few months. We’re shifting our closets from cool sleeveless tops and shirts to long-sleeved types and sweaters. Unless we live in a part of the world where weather remains stable all year long, we will repeat these tasks several more times as winter approaches, spring tiptoes in, and then summer returns.

Grass clippings scattered about the patio will soon be overrun by falling leaves in every shape and color. Apple cider will eclipse lemonade, and many will delight in the option of pumpkin spice lattes at their favorite coffee shop.

These season shifts nudge us to discover pesky places where clutter builds up and dust hides from us. Even if we are a tidy housekeeper, most of us will have those places that are not routinely checked for things that need to be cleaned up or cleared out.

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When I was growing up it was one of two times a year when my mother would do a deep cleaning and touch those untouched places so easily overlooked or ignored. There would be window washing, cleaning under the stove and refrigerator, and moving furniture to discover the dust that had been missed during routine cleaning. Clothes would be pulled out of cedar chests where they had been stored and protected from moths who relished discovering an extra meal if they could find it during those summer months. It meant she would also sometimes discover something she had not known was there. Perhaps it was a few loose pieces of change from a pocket, an earring she had not been able to locate, or a card she had addressed and then could not find when it was time to send it. The season that happened in the autumn was one I seldom was asked to be part of as I returned to school and had limited hours to help, but I enjoyed the benefits and the fragrance of that deeper clean any time I walked in the door.

We have lots of those pesky places in our homes that don’t get addressed as often – kitchen drawers that open and close with less and less organization inside, back corners of refrigerator shelves, and the top shelves of cupboards where our best dishes grow a film of dust from their infrequent use.

But there are other pesky places we often miss that live inside of us as well. Many of these remain hidden and out of view of those around us and some we keep so well covered that we can ignore them for long periods as well. Those are those attitudes that don’t quite line up with our best selves, the nagging habits we accommodate because we like them despite knowing they are not good for us, and our selfish preferences that stand opposite our stated desire to put others first.

Perhaps these are like the little foxes that spoil the vines spoken of by King Solomon by the Old Testament book bearing his name.

These are those little things (sometimes pet sins too) that we accommodate without much thought since we have already labeled them “little” and see them as not so harmless without recognizing they erode and grow if left with that mindset. We forget when they snagged us up in times past because we didn’t pay attention; we were living too close to the enemy who seduces us into such thinking.

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After all, we were busy. We had so many things to do, those meetings at school and church, coffee dates with friends, and a need to just kick back and relax and stop thinking about who we were to be and what we were to be about. We really weren’t being lazy. We just needed a break from all those things.

Sound familiar?

If we are honest, most of us have been there and might be there now as well. Maybe it’s that Newton law thing about a body a rest tending to stay at rest versus a body in motion tending to stay in motion. After all, who would be looking at those places in our home or in our hearts?

As I have been reading through the Old Testament book of Judges again, I see parallels to these ways of thinking and the significant impact on Israel after Joshua had died. The people who had followed those heroes of the faith like Moses, Caleb, and Joshua had let those evidences of what God did and what He required fall into the background and before long they were like pesky places left untouched and unaddressed.

Little pesky places and things became pet habits and God got shoved to the background as little things grew to little idols that soon meant the people were trusting themselves instead of God. Strongholds developed that could only be defeated by One outside of themselves.

By the end of the book of Judges we come to that haunting verse that reads, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

A note in my study Bible about all this reads as follows: “we abandon God when we do only what seems good to us: creating private religion, abandoning our personal calling, pursuing our individual desire, and choosing personal preservation over justice.”

Doing what is right in our own eyes sounds very much like today despite Judges being written about 550 BCE.

Many of us have been captivated by the images of the death of Queen Elizabeth II – the music, respect, reverence, and awe – and soon a new king will be crowned with more imagery as well. They remind me that Jesus whom we love and revere if we believe in Him is not only Savior, but King. His Kingdom extends far beyond any earthly realm of any period of history. And Scripture says He will return for this of his Kingdom when the world has gone mad, forgotten Him, and living as they please in an ever-darkened way.

Whenever He comes, He will not concern himself with the condition of my cupboards, but rather the condition of my heart. Perhaps it is what we see around us that should remind us that it’s time to take care of those pesky places in our hearts that we have ignored for some time and to prepare our hearts to hail Him when He comes.

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5 thoughts on “Pesky Places

  1. Pam, this post moved me to tears … The cycle of “doing what was right in their own eyes” is one I have always found so sobering. The note in your Bible is one I am jotting down. I pray I do not ever rush ahead of God, doing what I think is right, and in actuality compromises or disregards His Word. May the Lord be with us, keeping our feet planted in His Word. Thank you, friend, for this post!

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