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"Getting Rid of Gunk"
by Barbara Smith

When we settled in our one story, maintenance-friendly house, we were happy also to take possession of a modest swimming pool. Maintaining this little guest-magnet turned out to be more work than keeping house during the hot dry summer.

The pool owner's manual outlines a routine maintenance plan that promises great enjoyment to the diligent. It also warns of dire consequences that come if the careless owner neglects a step or two in the maintenance regimen. One common consequence is noticeable algae growths.

Even in a seemingly clean pool, algae grow invisibly at first. Forming in a corner, a crack or under a step, algae multiply and conquer a pool in a few days if unchecked by regular maintenance. The manual estimates that thirty million little critters swim around in just one ounce of pool water. Most pools contain thousands of gallons of water, so algae quickly can become an enormous hassle. If I shut off the pool pump or forget to add preventive chemicals that destroy them, voila! A green slimy, scum-covered pool results.

We took a week-long trip, last summer, and pool maintenance slid to the bottom of the chore list. In the flurry of our departure, I forgot to "shock" the pool, that is, dump a bunch of powerful chemicals to fight the proliferation of bad stuff. When we returned and I looked at the pool, I was dismayed by a pervasive invasion of pool algae. These were definitely NOT the life forms we wanted swimming in our pool! Good grief, I sighed. How can microscopic life forms do so much damage in only a few days?

Clearing the algae-infested water is twice as hard as routine maintenance. It took five days of work to filter out the uninvited "guests," five days before my family could safely swim. During this time of scrubbing and adding chemicals I got to thinking. The sin that can suddenly overwhelm me crouches just as imperceptibly in my heart as these microscopic bits of life hide in pool water. Without the daily washing by worship and the word, sin blossoms as rapidly and unattractively as the algae in our green-tinged pool.

No one makes me clean the pool; it's up to me how much effort I put into maintaining it. If I want the pool to be clean and attractive, however, I must learn how to maintain it: brushing, vacuuming, watching the water level and adjusting the chemicals. Slackening on any one of these steps, invites an invasion of slimy greenish gunk. That is the parallel to sin that occurred to me one dry hot day when I was grappling with the murky mess.

Similarly, no one makes a Christian do devotions. I can decide freely how much effort I spend maintaining my soul. Am I as concerned about maintaining an attractive, pure witness as I am a clean pool? Sometimes not. Resting on yesterday's devotions or last Sunday's sermon can foul my soul as surely as my neglect spoils my pool.

What kinds of spiritual pollutants threaten? They may not be visible at first, but if left untreated with God's word, my sinful moods and habits flourish. Shame, arrogance, callousness, depression, ignorance, fear, impatience, unfaithfulness, suffering, or apathy have invaded my mind and heart at times. Sin multiplies as surely as algae flourishes in an untended pool, clouding my testimony and destroying my peace. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

So, how do I restore and maintain my purity? By applying God's word, such as Psalm 119, my way is purified, if I obey, diligently and daily. Time alone in God's word daily removes the debris of sin and replaces it with an obedient spirit. His word is a filter, through which I may clarify and revise my priorities. When I spot the scum of sin, or when dark clouds of depression, fear and doubt assail, God's word shows me a course of action. His word tests my motives and revives my soul as surely as the chemicals clear the pool water. (Psalm 139:23-24)

For example, Psalm 119 tells how to subdue spiritual algae:

  • Confess and accept God's forgiveness.
  • Ask God what I can learn the current crisis. (119:26)
  • Exchange dark thoughts for God's truth. (119:27-28)
  • Hand over to God whatever threatens my purity. (119:29)
  • Choose the faithful way, obey and persevere in the word! (119:30-32)

A Maine lobster man once told me life's problems are like buckets of dirty water. Until we set the buckets down, and quit stirring them up, the dirt will not settle to the bottom. So too, clearing up the aftermath of careless habits and attitudes often means slow, steady work. The spiritual debris must simply settle out. The scummy pool that greeted me at the end of our little vacation cleared slowly. I had to scrub, apply heavy-duty chemicals, and then wait for the clumps of algae corpses to sink to the bottom. No amount of fretting or frenzy could speed the process.

When I take my problems to Christ, I can leave them in His care and trust the Lord to settle them out.

"My soul languishes for Thy salvation; I wait for Thy word. My eyes fail with longing for Thy word, while I say, "When wilt Thou comfort me? Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Thy statutes . . . Forever, O, Lord, thy word is firmly fixed in the heavens. They faithfulness endures to all generations. (Psalm 119: 81-83, 89-90 )

Taken from:
Growing Up Homeschooling,
(or learning what we wanted the kids to take to heart)

Due Summer, 1998
Pre-publication order from:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012
$8.95 plus 3.00 postage (Maryland residents add 5% MD sales tax)

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

Please send a copy of the publication to:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012

We hope our thoughts encourage you in the Lord Jesus Christ who has enabled us to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined -- please let us know what YOU think. E-mail us at workbook@toad.net. (Please don't forget to include your e-mail address with in the body of the message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient e-mail addresses.)


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Barbara & Douglas Smith
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul ..."
Hebrews 6:19

Post Office Box 827  •  Arnold, MD 21012  •  (410) 974-1111
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