by Randy Kosloski
Last year there was a water main break in a neighbouring community, which resulted in a huge flood, most of it underground, creating a monstrous sink hole on one of the main streets. The picture on the front page of the local paper displayed a pickup truck being pulled out of the sink hole by a crane. The entire pickup, aside from the tailgate, was immersed in the water of this sink hole. Now the municipality is replacing the water main, but in order to do so, they have to divert the water that normally flows through that pipe to an older, smaller one. As a result of this work the municipality has issued a water ban in that community. No one is allowed to use any outdoor water for the duration of the summer. The reason the municipal government issued this ban is because they are afraid that the water pressure will get too low. If the water pressure drops in an old pipe, the water itself gets more still, and then the contaminants from the pipe can enter the water and make it toxic.
This water main break is analogous to the human mind. Dr. Dan Allender, in a sermon he gave at Willow Creek Community Church, talked about how when people are still and meditating, their own emotional toxins surface. It can make them uncomfortable and even scared. This may be why most people avoid being still and quiet.
John Piper talked about how modern man has lost the ability to think. I would concur with Piper, because in order to think, we must take the time to be still so we can focus. Most people do not believe thinking is important enough to take the time to do it. The most common addiction I see in counselling is the addiction to “busy-ness”. Very few people seem to believe being too busy is harmful, but I believe that it is attached to nearly every emotional issue that the average person brings into counselling. Busy-ness is an avoidance of stillness. Thus, it is an avoidance of thought and meditation.
I feel that the proof of this is in the counselling experience itself. Counselling is based on the principle that people know the solutions to their own problems, and a counsellor’s job is merely to bring those solutions to the surface. A counsellor is there to quiet a client’s mind and help him to listen to how God is directing them. Most often, people refuse to stop and listen, likely because people hate being convicted, being told that their wrong, or that they have to change. When we stop to listen and the water gets still, the toxins in our lives bubble to the surface. The pain, insecurity and the necessity for change that result can be scary.
But the fear is a reality whether we choose to be still and face it, or not. Living with these toxins in our lives is painful, as well. The pain is not acute; it does not hit all at once. But over time our interactions with people are affected negatively by toxins; so is our relationship with God, as well as our contributions in the workplace. The long term result of living with these toxins is a difficult and painful life.
The good news is that we can let the water be still and clean out the toxins with the power of Christ because God has more in store for us than this painful life (Jeremiah 29:11). Instead of seeking temporary highs to help distract us from these toxins and our resulting painful life, we can live a peaceful life full of love. In his book, “The Weight of Glory”, C.S. Lewis writes about how people are too easily pleased, “like an ignorant child,” happy making mud pies because we cannot imagine how wonderful God’s version of happiness for us is.
To be still before God requires some courage and commitment. People need to have the courage to face their mistakes and to face the pain those mistakes have caused them as well as the pain it’s caused their loved ones. They need commitment to make changes regardless of the discomfort those changes may cause. Through prayer, we can seek understanding via stillness and meditation; we can learn to accept change.
Neil T. Anderson is a good resource for learning how to be still and to pray through difficulties. He has discovered the importance of confessing before God at length, and to pull out sin from the past, which people have long forgotten, yet which still hampers them. Anderson seems to understand that cleaning out the toxins that impede people’s relationship with God will exponentially benefit their connection to God, and this will benefit their day-to-day lives. In his book The Bondage Breaker, he gives examples of people making use of a trusted friend, pastor or counsellor to help bring their prideful disobedience before God honestly and humbly. This is time-consuming, in addition to being scary, but it needs to be a priority.
“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm,” Luke 8:24. Notice that no toxins bubbled to the surface? The local municipality we discussed earlier didn’t want to take the time and money it would cost to clean their old pipe. Because of that an entire community is now suffering, to a degree, and not meeting their potential. Their lawns are brown, their cars are dirty and their gardens are failing. People of God need be more courageous than that municipality. They need to make the sacrifices required to clean out the toxins in their lives and to face the fear of change. God is more than capable of sustaining us through this process. Be still and quiet, and do not fear what waits for you there.
When Toxins Surface
by Randy Kosloski