November 2014
From Pastor to Pasture

Cover It Up Or Fix The Problem?

It all started with just a rotten door, a leaking window and a weak spot under the corner of the shower. Surely in a week or so, everything would be back to normal. Man, did we underestimate what we were in for; what was really needed to fix the problems, and all the obstacles we would face!

Whether it is working on your house or your life, there is just something about opening things up and looking on the inside and examining all the details. You see a little something here and a little something there. You know things are not quite right, but these are only little problems, little isolated things that are not too major and that you will get around to one day when you have the time and money. Chances are, nobody else even notices them, but you know they are there and will one day have to be dealt with. If left unfixed, they will only lead to more serious problems down the road.

When we open things up and are able to see the inner places usually covered up or hidden from our sight, we discover there are often even more problems that we have not seen ourselves. When we begin fixing one problem, we uncover another. That has certainly been the case with my "simple turned hair-pulling" fiasco!

However, Lisa and I have been trying to console one another by agreeing that if we had not fixed it now, it would have been worse in the future. However, just stating the truth does not take away the time, stress, energy, money and frustration of dealing with the problems now – but it will save us much in the long run.

I was recently privileged to do prison ministry in one of our state institutions. Most of my time has been spent working in "the yard" where the inmates gather for outdoor activities and lunch. Though we are encouraged when talking with the inmates not to ask too many questions about why they are there, I always do.

Most of the time, I have to ask directly, "How did you get here?" Some will try to just pass it off by saying something like they just did something stupid or they were set up, but as I continue to press them, they usually share what they really did to get them incarcerated. Their confession opens the door for me to ask them how they got started down that path of sin, crime, recklessness and disregard for the law and for others. I think this helps them and me to better understand the paths and the progression of sinfulness.

Just like rot in a piece of wood, the longer it stays in a wet environment, the more it rots. For wood to rot, it has to get wet and stay wet for an extended period of time. If it had just gotten wet one time and dried out, it may have been discolored, but it would not have rotted. In our case, the leak was just a seemingly insignificant and mostly hidden leak that was left unfixed for an extended time. The problem of the leak that rotted the wood progressed to the studs, through the sheetrock and eventually to the subfloor and even to the base of the cabinets. It was slow and gradual, but the small leak left unfixed over time did a lot of damage and led to much bigger problems than the leak itself.

Sin in our lives that is not recognized and/or not dealt with works in the same way and progresses, causing more and more damage – not only to ourselves, but to all those around us. After a while, it leads to even greater sin and has an ever increasing detrimental effect in our lives and our relationships. After a while, if we keep ignoring the sin, we may even get to where we do not even notice it, even though the effects are progressing and doing more and more damage.

Many of the inmates I mentioned who are locked up in the prison are there for sexual offenses and most of the others are there for drug-related charges. I find it very interesting that almost without exception, when the inmate finally shares the truth about how they got to be where they are, they said they never thought it would happen to them. Never would they have ever thought they would find themselves guilty of the offences they have committed. It started with just a social drink which led to more drinking, then to alcoholism, then to stronger drugs, then to loss of jobs and family, then to a life of crime to support their habit.

Without exception when the crime was sexually related (usually with a minor), when I ask at what point did pornography get into the picture, they can name the exact time. I would feel comfortable saying that every sexual offender I have met has had a history with pornography! It started out in secret without anyone else knowing it, but, just like the water leak that was not fixed, it rotted them to the core – even to the point that they would sexually abuse small children of both sexes.

Many of the men are very well educated, were business owners and professionals, and are capable of running most any business around. Except for the fact that they are child molesters, from what you see when you meet them, they would be the people you would pick to be your next door neighbors. They were decent, hardworking people who let sin creep into their lives and took them further than they ever dreamed of going, but all in the opposite direction from their dreams, their potential and the plans God had for them.

Whenever we become aware of sin in our lives is the right time to deal with it before it progresses. If we think we are sinless, then we really need to open things up and see what is hidden from our view, because we are all sinners.

Perhaps that is why the Psalmist wrote what he did in Psalms 139. He began by stating: "Oh Lord, You have searched me and known me." He goes on to acknowledge that there is nothing that God does not know about him and that there is no where he can go to escape God’s presence. But after going on and on about how God knows every detail about him, the writer concludes by asking God: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

He said God you have searched me and you know everything about me. Now I am asking you to search me and show ME what YOU see! Help me to see my own sin and offenses (known and unknown) for what they really are and help me to live a life pleasing to you. He is asking God to tear out the walls and let’s get started with fixing whatever we find, whatever the costs, so that in the end we will be pleasing and useful to Him.

He may never quit showing us more things we need to deal with, but if we desire to live honestly before Him, trusting in what Jesus has done for us, His grace will be sufficient to fix everything else!

Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 333-4400 (mobile) or www.CattleforChrist.com.