This morning I had the privilege of cleaning out some gutters for a member of the Church here in Fairfield. And, much to my chagrin, despite the fact that I am 6' 5", I still had to use a ladder. When I got up there, you can imagine it wasn't exactly a pretty sight (well, you don't have to imagine--here's a picture); the stagnant water, rotting vegetable matter, and tar from the roofing wasn't exactly a pretty smell either.
When my bare hands proved ineffective, I decided to get down to business with a trash bin, some gloves, a trowel, and a block of wood that I used as a scraper to get all the sludge moving down the gutter and into my trowel.
Ready for Battle!
The work went quickly as I scraped and slopped the smelly, slimy sludge into the awaiting maw of the garbage pail who seemed to be much more receptive to the goop than I (probably out of a sense of duty more than anything else). But even when the last remnants of the debris were in the pail, we had a layer of tar-paper silt at the bottom of the track that was preventing the remainder of the stagnant water from exiting the gutter; it had to go. Elder Marsh, my trusty companion, pulled out the hose, and after some trial-and-error, decided that spraying down the gutter one section at a time from atop the ladder would be better than me blindly trying to reach up there and wash it down with the wand extension. At last the gutter was clean--pure (or I should say purer; I don't know if I would drink it) water flowed out of the bottom of the spout. It was ready to traffic some serious rainwater! That is...Until next fall.
I thought about the implications of all of this as I had my hands wrist-deep in decaying palm fronds and brown water. It reminded me of how quickly our lives can get clogged if we don't take care to "clean the gutters" before it gets too bad (granted, these weren't the worst gutters I've seen--it just hasn't really struck me until now). If we allow it, sin, selfishness, the cares of the world, and all the other junk we have to slog through every day can really bog us down so we can't feel the "Living Water" (Jesus Christ) flowing through us. Our belief will become stagnant and what was once beautiful and alive and useful will become dead.
We have the opportunity to clean out our gutters, whatever stage they may be at, through the power of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. When we get to work to remove bad influences, repent of our sins, and not return to them, our spiritual rain gutters will allow pure Living Water to flow through us. That's some serious cleaning power!