The beautiful bride made this request of me more than once. She did so not because I refused any previous requests to do so, but because my earlier attempts were met the next day by the consistent, persistent, violent smell. We discovered said offense in our garage, or more accurately, the stench (without warning and without invitation) took up full time residence in our garage. It is not surprising that something like this might happen, as our garage is home to our dogs and cats, briefly served as a shelter for our young chicks, and since we are out in timber country, it is likely woodland creatures may venture in from time to time. What was surprising is that no matter how much, how diligently, and how aggressively I cleaned, the stench remained. We tend to shy away from commercial cleaning products, but in this instance, I was willing to compromise and begin my own chemical warfare on a clear and present danger.
This weekend I paced through the garage trying to figure out if I could determine the location of where this bouquet of filth emanated. Back and forth, back and forth. I stood in the center of the garage, scanned the area looking for any inch I had not already scrubbed. In all of my efforts, I missed one glaring area – the small gap between the wall and the chest freezer. Clambering atop the freezer, I squished my face in between the gap, and immediately regretted it. The good news – I found the odor. The bad news – I had to deal with the odor. Nothing good can come from sharing with you what the source of the odor was. You’re welcome.
As often as I cleaned the garage floor, I never once pulled out the freezer to see if the fiendish stink was behind it. I may have thought about it, but I convinced myself that the smell wasn’t that bad, or that it surely could not be coming from behind there, or that it would be a considerable pain to move the freezer (those things are not small, and when you live in a rural area like we do, you store up as much as you can, so that appliance is loaded). So, in effect, what I did was consent to live with the stench. I could agree it was unpleasant. I could rightly name it as a stench and not confuse it with an air freshener. I could affirm that something probably should be done about it. Certainly others noticed, but were just too polite to say they noticed, leading me to think that it must not be all that objectionable.
My thinking about the stench is the same way I can be tempted towards thinking about my sin. I can agree that my sin is unpleasant. I can have enough awareness to be able to say “yes, this is sin.” I can even agree that something should be done. Perhaps others have noticed my sin in my life but in the name of politeness (though better identified as fear of man) they say nothing – which in my mind can lead me to believe that my sin must not be all that bad.
If you have ever been near such an unpleasant aroma (please, somebody, join me in my misery – certainly somebody else has had this kind of experience!) you know that they just don’t go away. Often, instead of going away, they get worse. Much worse. I trust you can see the parallel here with sin – sin is just not going to go away. The stench in my garage was discovered and eradicated by bleach. The stench in my heart is scrubbed away by Christ.
I am endeavoring to examine my freezer/wall gaps in my heart. What offense is proceeding from there? What sin reeks in my heart and life? Are there other nooks and crannies in need of being sanitized? Is my heart and subsequently my life a pleasing fragrance to God? Will I welcome rebuke from others when they see sin in my life? Will I take sin seriously and not trifle with it? Will I agree with God that it has no place in my home. I pray that my distaste for sin in my life will be greater than the disgust for the funk in my garage.