Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.— Proverbs 4:23
‘Dad, there’s a problem with the shower. The water’s not draining and there’s a horrible smell in there.’ It was my daughter on the phone while we were away on holidays. “It eventually goes down but it sits there for a few hours at least.”
There wasn’t much I could do while away, but when I returned a few days later, she was right. There was a stench and the water was just sitting on the floor of the shower, pooling around the drain hole. A few minutes later, the cause was obvious as I unscrewed the drain grate and pulled out a dark, stinky mass of hair that had accumulated over years. It was preventing the water from flowing through the floor waste gully. With the obstruction removed, the drain could work the way it was designed.
How true that is of our hearts too. In baptism, we are given new hearts, clean hearts that are free to love God fully and the people around us expansively. But over years of simply living, there can often be a slow build-up of accumulated gunk that restrict us loving the way God designed. It may be a harboured grudge that has caused us to become bitter, a regret on continuous replay in our minds, a painful hurt whose ache won’t ease, a worry that seems to grow with each passing day or even a critical spirit that is quick to condemn. We may not think much of them at the time, but left unattended, they can build up layers around our heart that stop both the inflow and outflow of love in our lives. Sometimes we are not even aware of the stench that our life has become. That’s why the wisdom writer tells us to guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it.
Lent is a gift for the heart – a time to do some periodical maintenance on the plumbing of our soul to check if there is any accumulated scale and muck that is blocking the flow and causing a putrid odour. When we confess our sins, we acknowledge the gunk that accumulates around our heart and let the Master Plumber, God himself, clean the blockage, remove the build-up of scale, and eradicate the stench that his love and grace may freely flow into and out from our lives.
And while you are at it, it may be worth spending five minutes cleaning your own shower drains!
To Ponder: Have you noticed any strange odour in your life? How freely is God’s love flowing into and out of your life?
Lord God, remove any build-up of sin and gunk in my life, that your life and love may flow freely through me. Amen.