I live in Missouri. People from Missouri like to joke about having to turn your heater and air conditioner on in the same day… It’s not really a joke during the spring and fall though… We also like to joke about not knowing what the season is- first spring, third winter, mud season… who knows… soon it will be crazy hot and humid, and this we all call summer… Living in a state with unpredictable weather, you learn to just roll with Mother Nature’s mood swings.
One day this winter or spring… I really don’t know which one it was… there was a random beautiful day in the middle of a cold week. My kids spent the majority of the day outside. They were playing on their play-set outback and trying to climb the tree that sits just behind it.
Once they came inside, it was apparent they had all came in contact with poison ivy or poison oak… I really can’t tell the difference… both of these plants make my kids and husband break out into horrible rashes. I lathered the kids up in lotion and told them to stay away from poison ivy. We went through and looked at pictures to explain what poison ivy and poison oak looked like. “Leaves of three, let them be.” I explained that you may see it on trees or around the trees. They seemed like they understood.
A few days later, my kids were back outside climbing that tree again. And what do you know… they got more poison ivy. So I walked myself out there with the intent to show them that they need to stay away from this plant… BUT it was not there. There was no plant around that tree. In fact, there was no green in the backyard at all besides the grass.
Apparently the oils from the poison ivy that had been on the tree remained on the tree even after the plant had died. I was teaching my kids to stay away from the plant because of those oils, not realizing they could still get poison ivy without seeing the plant just by coming in contact with the oils.
How many times have I done the same thing? How many times have I not noticed coming in contact with “poison,” because I simply could not see it? Maybe it was disguised as something else… maybe I just simply overlooked it…How many times have I thought the problem was something visual and avoidable, when really it was deeper than that?
The truth- this is so easy to do. I know I struggle with drama, so I avoid many television shows and negative conversations about people. However, I was standing in the check out line the other day, and I couldn’t help but read the headlines on the magazines. Though I did not pick up the magazine to read, I did go home and Google the topics out of pure curiosity. Before I knew it I was researching all the dirty secrets and stories about the topic. The “oil” got to me. I didn’t actually touch it… well at first… but the drama entered my mind, and I allowed it to run wild.
I know I struggle with drama. It’s no secret to me. But when I can’t see the drama, I do not realize that I am slipping up. I can see and am fully aware of the drama on television, or in books, or conversations with certain people, or on social media. I am prepared for a defense against those situations. However, I did not see the problem behind reading a headline of magazine while I stood bored in a check-out line.
By allowing the drama to slowly seep in, I let my guard down in other areas. I’m now bored. I don’t really like being bored. So I busy my schedule. I start over planning my week and stretching my time. By the end of this, I am tired and I just want to be alone. So now, I am cranky and short with my husband and kids…All because I allowed the oil to seep in. I let my guard down. I let a sin seep into my heart.
Honestly, in the moment I do not really see what’s wrong. Reading articles online is perfectly normal. Having a busy schedule- it happens. Wanting to be alone- we can chop that up to introvert problems. Being snippy with people I love… not ok.
It’s easy to justify all these events as life… but one thing is obvious- My peace has been disrupted. When I know my peace has been disrupted I have to get back on track. This most likely means I am lacking in my prayer life. Have I been being diligent in prayer? Have I been reading and studying my Bible? Or have I just been going through the motions? Has my relationship with God been a priority or more on the back burner? Have I skipped some days with the Lord and figured it will all be just fine? I know this answer.
The first step to every problem with sin is prayer. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to help in the areas you are weak. Give up your struggle. It was never meant to be carried by you in the first place. Lay it at His feet. Pray and trust!
My husband recently shared with me a thought he had while reading Romans. It amazed him that Paul, a true apostle for the Lord, a man who literally gave his life to serve Jesus and spread the Gospel, still described himself as a wretched man.
Romans 7: 22-24, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Honestly, I think we can all relate to this struggle very well.
There’s hope here! One of the most well-known men in Christian history… a man who wrote the majority of the New Testament… never felt like he was getting it right. He knew he still struggled with sin, though he lived a life fully devoted to Jesus. We are all going to struggle against sin until the day we die. We must have a defense, and that defense is Jesus. We must draw near to Him. We must earnestly seek Him in prayer.
Lord, my flesh is weak. I pray that you will help me guard my heart against the schemes of the enemy. I pray that you will open my eyes to the oils that I cannot always see. Give me eyes to see what you see and a heart that breaks for what breaks yours. Thank you for loving me even though I slip up over and over again. You are a good God and worthy of all my praise!
In Jesus name I pray.