Pastor Kevin Redding
Shiloh Community Church, Adult Ministries Pastor
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:7-9)
It’s good to know that God loves us enough to not leave us where we are. If we let God, He will help us pick up the messes in our lives and cause us to grow and flourish.
The church office is closed on Friday’s, and all the Pastors take that as our day off during the week (along with most Saturdays). One of my common things to do on Friday’s is to mow the backyard. It’s not too big, but we enjoy having green grass back there all year long. I don’t have a green thumb, and the yard isn’t anything that will be in any Home and Garden magazine, but I enjoy the yard work. There is still some grass in the rocks, but I enjoy the mowing of the lawn. I enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. I enjoy how it looks when the grass is even. I enjoy, when it’s all done, asking my family “did you see the backyard?” (I know they are annoyed by it…but still.)
I realized something this past week when i went to mow, I always start the process the same way…by picking up dog poop. That is not a favorite pastime of working in the backyard, but it is necessary to get that out of the way first. In fact, when I’m mowing and I discover i’ve missed some, I immediately stop and pick it up. Picking up poop is pretty important in the process of my yard maintenance.
The same is true of our spiritual maintenance. No matter how much we’ve grown and how long we’ve walked with Christ, there is still going to be poop in our lives. When we think we are all cleaned up, and presentable, inevitably there is going to be more poop to come. And, if we are truly going to allow God to continue to conform us the image of His Son, He is going to start by continually showing us and cleaning up the poop in our lives.
Our natural tendency would be to ignore the poop, and wait for it to go away (as if it ever does). Or, we try to excuse the poop and say it’s “fertilizer and will help the grass grow.” The problem with that is when poop is ignored and not taken care of, it gets tracked around. It goes to areas that you once thought was safe. As it gets spread, the stench becomes worse and worse than if you dealt with it in the first place.
We can also try to deal with avoiding maintenance, by putting in fake grass or allowing the weeds to grow. We try to put on a fake front of spirituality or we just let whatever is going to happen, happen. What i’ve noticed about my friends who have fake grass and have dogs…there is still poop to clean up. What i’ve noticed about my friends who don’t have grass in their backyards and let the weeds grow who have dogs…yep, there is still poop in the dirt that they find annoying.
What happens when we clean the poop from the backyard…we get to enjoy the benefits of a nice backyard. What happens when we allow God to clean the sin in our lives, there is enjoyment and spiritual benefits of having a close relationship with God. The Apostle Paul gives encouragement throughout his letters of the importance of walking in newness of life; of allowing God to grow us so that we reflect Him; the reality of discipline because He loves us; the joy of being made new every single day.
I know it’s easy to be discouraged when you feel that you are working hard to allow God to clean you up and you keep seeing more poop that needs to be cleaned up. Don’t lose heart. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Remember that even though it’s often messy, when God cleans us up, I imagine He might just step back and ask, “do you see my child?”
“13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way…”