Have you seen the commercial with the little people made out of copper tubing or galvanized pipes? They’re walking around or going about their business in a little world made out of pipes and tubing. The art work in this computer-generated commercial has always fascinated me for some reason. It’s a commercial for some drug that is supposed to help people with, er, “leaky pipes.” You know—the kind that leak with a sneeze, a laugh or a sudden urge? Not that I would know anything about that, of course! ;-} Well, that’s not the kind of leaky pipes I’m talking about today—thank goodness!
Our house is eighty-three years old. When we suddenly discovered a leak in the water pipes above the linen closet downstairs last week we weren’t too surprised—but we were fearful! Those particular pipes weren’t that old, but they were connected to pipes that were, and knowing how one thing leads to another, we wondered if we were opening a can of worms. It couldn’t be helped, though—the leak had to be fixed and if that led to more problems, well, it just came with the territory of owning an old house.
I am so blessed to be married to a man who is quite handy and can tackle most household repairs as they come up. Sure enough, as Bob examined the dripping culprit he found more and more pipes and joints that needed to be changed. The wrong kinds of materials had been used, soldering jobs were poorly done, pipes were bent and crimped—the whole thing was a mess and we understood suddenly why our water pressure had been so poor all these years. What started out as a simple task of fixing a solitary little leak became a job that lasted until 3:30 in the morning.
At last he could turn the water back on and breathe a sigh of relief that there were no more leaks. The initial problem was fixed—but there was more bad news. We had known for years that our hot water heater was going to have to be replaced, but we kept holding off, hoping we could make it last “just a little longer” until we had some extra cash just lying around (ha!) Last week as Bob worked on the pipes, though, he got a good look at the condition of the hot water heater and he knew we couldn’t put it off any longer. The thing was going to rust out any day and then we would have a flooded basement and even more of a mess to clean up.
I had just seen hot water heaters on sale in a flyer from Menard’s, so he immediately rented a truck and went to pick one up. Naturally, he discovered when he got home that the job of installing it was not going to be easy. The water pipes and gas line weren’t going to match up with the new tank and he was going to have to move them. By that time it was too much of a task to tackle just then. He had to go out of town for several days for his job, so he told me how to turn off the water if the old tank suddenly busted through, and with a prayer that nothing would happen while he was gone, I waved goodbye and kept a close eye on the basement!
Bob finally was able to get back to it yesterday. It always amazes me that he just naturally seems to know how to do all these complicated fix-it jobs. He tells me they aren’t that complicated, just time-consuming, but it sure seems to me that he has some special skills to do the jobs, and do them correctly. But of course, nothing is ever easy. Reworking the pipes and gas line wasn’t as extensive as he thought it might be, and he had the hot water heater installed a lot quicker than I expected, anyway, but oh no—that wasn’t the end of the problems. Of course not. One thing just leads to another…
Through the whole process Bob had delighted in showing me old pipes and joints that grossed me out. They were full of sludge left from decades of iron and mineral deposits to the point that we wondered how the water ever got through at all. They looked disgusting, although Bob said it really wasn’t harmful to drink the water that went through those pipes. I’m still thinking yuck! Anyway, some of that sludge had broken free as Bob worked and was now clogging our kitchen faucet. “If I can’t get this unclogged, we’re going to have to buy a new faucet,” he told me. The question became moot a short while later when he broke the faucet. Totally not his fault, but he is stopping on the way home from church today to buy a new faucet. One thing leads to another. I wonder what will need to be fixed when he he’s done with that?
Those old pipes were filled with disgusting sludge, but I couldn’t help but think what a mess we often find ourselves in when we let things in our lives slide for too long. Five or ten pounds become fifty. Months of dust and dirt become grime. Drawers and closets become inaccessible because they’re over-stuffed. A nice green lawn becomes overgrown with weeds and crabgrass. A little bit of neglected sin or worldliness snowballs and clogs our pipeline of prayer and our relationship with our Father.
Sometimes it is just a gradual thing. We become more and more immune to the sights and sounds and temptations of ungodly worldliness as television and music, movies and political correctness bombard us daily. Before you know it, we are allowing things in our homes and lives and minds that we would never have entertained a few short years ago. We are told in Scripture to “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:14, 17, 18) When we rub shoulders with the unclean things of this world, we are going to get dirty. When we flirt with temptation we are going to fall. When we fill our minds with trash, the sludge builds up until we become desensitized to ungodliness.
Sometimes it is a matter of procrastination. We may not want to admit it, even to ourselves, but we know we are harboring some little sin in our lives; something we just can’t—or just don’t want to—give up. We know we ought to repent, we need to, but for some reason we just keep putting it off. Maybe it is a sin of omission—for instance, neglecting to spend time in prayer or reading God’s Word. James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Sometimes we willfully and rebelliously do what we know is wrong and yet naively think that because we are His children and He loves us so much, He’s just going to brush it under the carpet and look the other way. That is when a loving Heavenly Father has to take us out to the woodshed and discipline us a bit! “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:5-7,11)
Sin is sin, whether it is sin of commission or sin of omission, and sin has consequences. We may be saved when we have trusted in Christ’s shed blood on the cross from the eternal consequences of sin, but there are still consequences. The Lord tells us in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” We think of that as eternal death, and even the death of our physical bodies, and rightly so, but have you ever considered that the consequences of sin could be the death of a relationship, or the death of integrity and trust?
The sludge of sin builds up. Like the sludge in our pipes, it may be hidden from view. We may be able to ignore it, others may not even know it is there, but God knows. Just as that sludge has inhibited the water flow in our house, sin inhibits the flow of our prayers and clogs our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Isaiah 59:1-2 goes on to say, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” The good news is that He does hear and He does save when we repent.
We can no longer ignore the sludge. Bob will be changing out more pipes in the coming days. When it comes to the sludge in our lives, we must take action, as well. We all need daily cleansing. It’s time to root out the sin, to repent and ask forgiveness. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” We read in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Now to take care of those other “leaky pipes…!”