Driving to Kerrville from San Antonio,
I reflected on God’s goodness at the P.R.A.Y. with Passion Conference at The Fellowship of San Antonio. The women’s ministry leader had been wonderful, the team hospitable, and the women receptive to hear God’s Word. I once again felt overwhelmingly grateful to God for the opportunity to share His Word and love.
Nearing Kerrville, my mind switched to what I needed to do to prepare for friends who were coming to dinner. I was blanking on what to do for a desert, and still had no idea when I pulled in the garage. Keith asked how the conference was, we chatted for a moment, then both went into high gear since our friends would arrive in two hours.
After our friends got there, Keith built a fire in the fireplace and we sat by the fire and visited. Until one them asked, “Is your flu open?” Smoke from the fireplace was billowing into the den. “Yes, it’s open!” We wondered what in the world was happening. It wasn’t windy outside and the smoke should have been going up the chimney. It was horrible, I noted, sitting beside the fire. The room filled with grey. I coughed. Keith worked on the fire. Finally, we got up and moved to the kitchen, opened the doors, and aired the room. After our friends left and the kitchen was cleaned, I tried to go to sleep. I was exhausted, but all I could do was cough until 1:30 a.m. Why had I sat by the fire in the smoke so long, I chided myself. Why had the chimney not drawn properly?
The next Monday, a chimney sweep came and cleaned our fireplace; noting that a dirty chimney could cause the smoke not to draw properly. I also read about creosote in chimneys and the byproducts that are produced and expelled through the chimney. I felt silly that I hadn’t called a chimney sweep before. I, who love a clean house, had neglected something because I couldn’t see it. It was on the inside of the chimney so I didn’t think about it. It had never caused a problem so I wasn’t aware a problem existed.
As I thought about how I continued to sit by the fire for a few minutes, even though it was billowing smoke, I wondered how often I’d entertained sin in my life rather than immediately confessed and moved away from it. For instance, had I sat with negative thoughts and let them burn within me? Had I fumed over cross words or fanned the flame of resentment? Had the creosote of critical thoughts built up inside my heart? Were they producing by-products of self and sin rather than the Holy Spirit?
I was a coughing machine the next week. And with my coughs, I wondered why I didn’t more quickly move away from the flame.
It was a warning to me and perhaps can be for you, also.
Satan and sin are real. The byproducts of sin are guilt, remorse, and consequences that can’t be removed as easily as me cleaning the smoke residue out of our house, carpet, and furniture. If we’re sitting close to any sin, it’s time to move away from it. If the sin is already in our heart, we need to repent and call on Jesus. As the chimney sweep cleaned my chimney, Jesus can clean our hearts.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus Christ, who died for our sins so that we might be free of them and cleansed of all our unrighteousness. Forgive us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.