One morning as I finished making tea I realised that I had left the tea bag and some ginger in the sink. I was about to walk away when a thought flashed through my mind; ‘if you don’t make a mess you will not have to clean up a mess’. Simple, but what a revelation; and it set me thinking.
Many of the issues people have to deal with are caused by the mess that they created to begin with. Of course life happens. Other people do crazy things that get us in trouble. However we can limit the aggravation we experience in life by making wise decisions and avoiding things that can ultimately boomerang.
The problem is that things tend to get worse. Had I left the ginger in the sink, it would not have stopped there. The next time I would have left even more because it was already dirty anyway, I would clean it up later. Then the dishes would follow, cups, cutlery would pile up until I had a sink full of dirty dishes and pieces of food. I did clean up the mess immediately, and that is when I remembered that the last time the sink was blocked some of the culprits were little bits of ginger?
Different mess, same approach
Seemingly unimportant things can wreak havoc in people’s lives. The mess people face varies, but the solution is the same: deal with it before it deals with you.
- Sort out that quarrel before it leads to a Cold War in your home.
- Resist the temptation to go home late from work to hang out with your friends when you know your wife is waiting.
- Forgive that person before your heart become so hard that you cannot even hear God any more.
- Stop going late to work so you do not become a prayer point when you are sending out applications for a new job.
- Make that appointment to sort out the problem before things get out of hand and the relationship is forever jeopardised.
Sometimes a little change in your life, merely heeding that gentle reminder in your head, might save your life.
When people make serious mistakes in life, or when things go very badly for them, they will often look back at one moment or several moments when the thought occurred to them to take care of a small problem. Invariably, they ignored it. They left the little bits of ginger to pile up and clog the drain. They continued to make a mess, and ended up having to clean up a bigger mess.
When others cause the mess
Do you know that even when the mess is caused by other people, there is often an early stage where we can come in and arrest it? However, if left unattended, it invariably gets out of hand. That is what happened between David and two of his sons. One son raped his half-sister and disgraced her forever. And David did nothing. The full brother of the young lady chafed silently and planned his revenge. The mess grew bigger as the aggrieved brother plotted and killed the other. And the Royal household was thrown into turmoil.
Had David intervened, that might have been avoided. But it did not stop there. The errant son who had fled into exile was eventually allowed to return. And his next plot was to unseat his father. He led a full-scale rebellion, the worst threat to David in his entire career, even worse possibly, than Saul’s attempts to murder him. Ultimately David himself had to flee for his life.
The mess was cleaned up, but at great cost. It left two sons dead and divided the kingdom. Sort out relationship problems before they implode. If people matter to you, talk, forgive, love. Scoring off each other is a recipe for disaster.
As a pastor I have looked in horror as people walked into destiny devouring situations because they would not heed a word of warning; they did not react to a potential mess on time. Sometimes we just assume things will go away, they never do; or that people will change on their own, they rarely do.
So friends, identify the mess, or the potential mess, and fix it before you have to do some serious cleaning. Shalom!