One of the great benefits of having a house in the hill country of Texas is that our foundations are tied into solid bedrock. One of the downfalls of living in a new development in the hill country of Texas is living across the street from a lot that is being developed.
It takes hours of jack hammering to clear out a lot and prepare it for use. While my grandsons love the heavy construction equipment, and I send them regular video and photo updates, there are times when I’m ready to scream at the construction guys, “couldn’t you have just used dynamite!?”
Seriously! Wouldn’t it be way more efficient to just blast that rock out with a good quick explosion rather than take days (which by the way begin at 6:50 a.m. and have occasionally lasted 12 hours) to jackhammer it out?
Sometimes I ask God the same thing, “Can’t you just blast every bad habit, ugly attitude, wrong thinking and selfishness out of me all at once? Do you know how frustrating it is (not to mention uncomfortable) to hammer it out one boulder at a time?”
The truth is, there are some things in my personality that are as solidly a part of who I am as this bedrock is solidly a part of Texas. I’m sure you know what I mean, because we all say the same thing…
… I wish I could get over _____
… If only I could forgive _____
… Why do I keep doing _____
… When will I learn not to _____
… God help me stop _____
It’s as if we have this massive foundation of negativity and sin that we just can’t remove on our own, and God isn’t removing it for us, at least not as quickly as we’d like… He’s using a jackhammer, but it is taking longer than we want to dislodge the boulder. Where’s the dynamite?
Of course, I’m not an engineer, and I don’t know the dangers of dynamite, or the degree to which it could damage nearby homes (including my own), so I trust the engineers to have chosen what is best to remove this bedrock? As annoying as it can be I live with the slow, steady percussion of the jackhammer.
It is the slow and steady that is important, I think. The jackhammer has a point that works its way into the stone, but it is the regular pounding that accomplishes the rend.
God’s Word is the jackhammer that is at work on the bedrock of my inner being. It has a point, and it is sharp, but it is the steady application of God’s Word that breaks away the boulders of sin, bad habits, attitudes and deeply held errors of my soul. God knows just where to place the tool, and the exact pressure to use to break the rocks of sin that have settled in my life.
“For the word of God is active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
God breaks the bedrock of sin away from our hearts when we are saved. We are freed from it, but I don’t think he hauls it off – I think that’s our job. When we realize that God has freed us from the sin that has long been part of our being, we must get rid of it.
We must not let the sin that so easily tempts us to be kept close to us. We need to either remove it, or remove ourselves from it.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:5,8 NIV)
Interestingly enough, there are days when I am busy, or distracted, and the noise of the jackhammer fades into the background and I don’t hear it. Sometimes I don’t notice God at work either. Sometimes I get so busy with life, that I don’t notice what God is doing until one day, something happens and I know I’ve changed. I don’t respond the way I used to, my thinking has been changed, or the things that bothered me no longer do.
When this lot is cleared it will only affect those of us who live near it, and perhaps it’s the same with the way God is clearing the sin from our souls. It isn’t earth-shattering. It won’t affect the universe. But it will affect the people who live closest to us. Hopefully, the people who are a part of our sphere of influence will see the power of God in a beautiful way. Or, if we make too much of the process, they may be turned off by the annoyance of the jackhammer.
What boulders of sin and attitudes, habits and actions that negatively define your personality is God trying to remove from you? Will you work with him by applying his word to your life steadily and regularly? And will you remove the things that hinder you so that you can build on the lot God has prepared?
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-13a, 14 NIV)