Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Black Ooze

Dear Friends,

It was early one Monday morning. I was writing an Amen Corner when I heard a muffled explosion come from somewhere within my house. Odd. Not like anything I'd heard before. I don't have a cat which ruled out feline terrorist activity. My canine security guard was still sleeping peacefully at my feet and if human intruders had caused the strange sound, she would have been instantly awake and responding Code-3. A cursory security check of the interior of my house revealed nothing. But later on when I went into my pantry, it looked like a scene from the old Ghostbusters movie. Ugly black and brown slime dripped from the ceiling. The sticky, gooey, ectoplasm-like substance had splattered on canned goods and was running off shelves. But before I could call an exorcist, I discovered what happened.

I found this can on a back shelf with its pull-tab lid blown open. The label said Dole Pineapple Chunks and what remained inside were gooey black globs of what had once been pineapple. During the forensic investigation with a magnifying glass, pinholes were found in the bottom of the can. Apparently, the highly acidic fruit dissolved the lining of the can and created tiny holes that allowed airborne bacteria to enter. This caused the fruit to decompose which increased the internal pressure and Bam! The date on the bottom of the can was October 2006. It was time to clean out my pantry.

As I cleaned up the ooze, I remembered a book I'd read years ago. Author Frank Peretti, who has been described as a Christian “Stephen King” wrote an award-winning novel called The Oath. The story focuses on a small mining town where many of the townspeople are suffering gruesome deaths. Their bodies are found partially decomposed and covered with a black oozing slime. The reader discovers the black ooze is their sin. It starts with a minor blemish – a darkened area of skin over the heart. If ignored it becomes a black oozing sore. If the sins remain unconfessed, the black slime begins to grow and takes over their soul. Their once happy lives turn dark and evil and eventually their body decomposes from the inside out. Sometimes the pressure of the sin builds up until the person explodes. It's not a book you want to read during dinner.

That morning as I was scrubbing black ooze and cleaning out my pantry while thinking about the Peretti book, I had the impression that God was telling me I need to clean out my own life. Did I still have unconfessed sins that were well beyond their “freshness dates”? I don't want to be strolling through Costco someday and... Bam!  “Attention Costco maintenance. Clean up a customer on aisle twenty three.”

Scripture tells us that God’s grace covers all our sin through the atonement of Jesus on the cross. So why do we need to continue to confess? Because we continue to sin. Once saved we are now in the process of sanctification where we are growing spiritually and are learning how to live and love like Jesus. Our sin clogs that process. Numerous scripture passages tell us that God doesn’t respond to us when we are not right with Him. It’s not that He stops listening to our prayers. But we have clogged up our lines of communication with Him whenever we have unconfessed and unrepentant sin in our lives. We unclog those lines when we say, “Lord, I messed up again, here’s what I did...” And, God’s immediate response is, “You are forgiven.”

Do you have some unconfessed sins that are well beyond their freshness dates? If so, consider taking some time this week to do some spiritual housecleaning!  Amen?