A Dumpster

It started with an odd hail storm a few months ago. One minute it was raining, then quite suddenly the sky darkened, and one of our dogs grew frantic. I heard the ice pelting the back deck, and ran to peek outside. Golf-ball sized hail was scattered over our lawn and driveway. One street away the heavy winds caused a massive tree to collapse upon the earth, roots exposed, while next door an equally large tree fell upon the neighbor’s roof, creating extensive damage.

This entire event lasted no more than five minutes.

Storms can be that way. Short and powerful and devastating.

Within a week, a vehicle thundered onto our dead-end street, unceremoniously depositing an old, ugly red dumpster at the foot of our neighbor’s driveway.

At first, this was a problem. Backing our truck out of our driveway is hard for me in the best of circumstances (ask my kids, I am the worst backer-upper ever.) But now, with a looming dumpster, backing out required extra time and patience. It was slow going.

Our mail-woman had to stop delivering mail unless I flew outside to meet her. The dumpster, so massive, did not allow her to fit in the culdesac and she was unhappy. She asked our neighbors when the monstrosity would be moved, and I was surprised to hear that it would be a month or more while roof repairs were underway.

Our front porch no longer held the same charm as we rocked. Who wants to look at a heap of trash?

But, after a few weeks of practice, I was able to slip out of the driveway quickly. The mail-woman and I had become friends, and she now zipped up our driveway in her truck to hand-deliver our bills. I rocked on our front porch keeping company with my thoughts despite the dumpster view. I simply looked away.

We grew accustomed to the inconvenience of the ugly dumpster. We worked around it and truly stopped seeing what was right in front of us.

******

Sin is ugly. It is a grotesque garbage dumpster, that if not slayed, becomes invisible to us and to others.

Have you ever stepped into a situation that is unhealthy and diseased? Your intuition is in overdrive, and you recognize the dysfunction? Yet other people around you seem unperturbed; oblivious?

I remember when Jon and I began dating, and spent time with each other’s families. We each brought up some funny and odd things about each other’s family of origin. Is it always like this? Has so and so always acted this way and everyone accepts it? The interesting part? Neither one of us had seen clearly the issues within our own families. We had been living with it for a lifetime, and particular patterns had become our normal. The obvious dumpster in the street had become invisible.

******

I am praying for clear eyes and a willingness to continually be killing sin and confronting it head-on. I most likely have fewer days on this earth ahead of me than behind me, and I want them to count. Belonging to Jesus means that the Holy Spirit is within me, and I am his image-bearer. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is attractive and freeing: simply Christ in us. We yield to him. If any person is continually displaying the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-20) Scripture warns that the kingdom of God will not be granted.

How do we “see” these proclivities in our own lives? I wondered recently. Here goes:

Ask yourself what it is you most fiercely protect. This will most likely lead you to your vulnerabilities. If my answer is money, then my sin-bent might be stinginess, overworking, spending sprees, or jealousy over “never enough.” If my answer is reputation, then my sin-bent will be keeping up false pretenses, or longing for adoration, or anger over lack of recognition. If my answer is addiction, my sins will most likely include lying and cheating and hiding and selfishness. If my answer is control, then I will sin by domineering others, bossing, and not trusting the Lord in outcomes. If my answer is family, then I will sin by enabling to keep peace at all costs, or sin by keeping a hyper-vigilance in guarding every nanosecond of my children’s life, or becoming defensive on my family’s behalf too quickly.

What do you most fiercely protect? Ask God to show you. He will.

******

That old dumpster in our street is finally gone. Good riddance.

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