Over the past several weeks, every time we got a heavy rain, I’d look next door and see water gushing down from the gutter of my parents’ home. The flood looked familiar because last year the same thing happened. I crawled up a ladder and unclogged their elbow drainpipe that continually gets plugged up with debris from the roof and the trees.
Have you ever noticed that you keep having the same recurrent problems but you’re not sure why? My son Ben is home from Maine to spend some time with us. Being analytical like most engineers, he crawled up on the ladder, poured water in the cleaned-out gutter, and noticed that the water was flowing in the wrong direction. Even when the pipes weren’t plugged, water wasn’t heading down the gutter into the downspout. No wonder everything kept getting clogged. Ben got the gutters sloping in the right direction and solved the problem.
My friend Mark Frazer thinks that I find spiritual lessons in everything—even the gunk. When we put things in our lives or in our bodies that don’t belong there, our lives can’t be healthy. When we consume what clogs up our arteries, veins, heart, or lungs, our body sends us signals in the form of warning signs or diseases that we must stop consuming what is killing us. When we become addicted to consumables, we can daily be taking in that which is sucking the life right out of us. When we are no longer recognizing the presence or voice of God, or the presence or voices of people around us, something that was never meant to capture and consume our attention has taken over. Technology. Entertainment. Fear. Worries. Anger. Sorrow. Food. Alcohol. Passions. Problems.
Like my parents’ gutters, sometimes our lives are pointed in the wrong direction, yet we don’t even realize it. If God’s Spirit isn’t flowing in and through you creating new life, new energy, and new connections, maybe it’s because your life has become pointed away from Jesus and towards something else. It doesn’t take much to get our lives off-course. But if we don’t recognize it, our lives can become miles away from the life that God meant for us.
Although we might get ticked off when our bodies, relationships, or gutters are overflowing with problems, the symptoms are one of God’s ways of getting our attention, leading us back to Himself, and restoring us. I marvel at all of the ways that God gets my attention when my ADHD, anxious, or problem-focused brain gets distracted or off-course. God is patient, kind, understanding, and loving. God knows just what to do to get our attention. He knows how we create our own problems. He’s also our ever-present help in times of trouble. When the Lord guides us to resolve our problems, He teaches us restorative lessons along the way. He’s more intent upon building a close relationship with us and building our character than helping us to feel comfortable.
If you’re noticing the same problems keep cropping up over and over again, maybe you’ve allowed your life to become full of something other than the life of Christ. Maybe the Holy Spirit can’t flow in and through your life the way that He intended because your life is sloped away from Him. Maybe the nagging or irritating symptoms that you’re experiencing are God’s sovereign ways of helping you to get your life sloped in His direction so that His Spirit can fill you and freely flow in and through you. Jesus came to save, restore, and fill you with His life and love so that it pours and splashes out of you, offering new life to those around you.
If God hasn’t gotten your attention, maybe your basement or life needs flooded for you to slow down and get cleaned out and headed in God’s direction. His ways are always higher than our ways, and when His Spirit is flowing through us—everyone around us will benefit.