Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me.” Psalm 139:23-24
There was something stinky right below the surface. There were a lot of things I just didn’t know or understand growing up, but that was ok because my world was pretty low key. Looking back, maybe, perhaps those were some of my favorite memories in this journey called life. This was especially true in the years before junior high. As an elementary age kid, it was sunup to sundown adventures. Little did I know that something was brewing right beneath my feet.
We lived in the country which meant no city water or sewer. In fact, I think I can safely say I didn’t even know there was such a thing. We had a well and pump in our backyard and that is where our water came from, and I thought that is what everyone did. We also had something called a septic tank. That handled all the, uh, waste, from the Taylor Tribe. There were two things I didn’t know. First, I didn’t know we had one and second, I didn’t know it was right under our back porch. All that changed when one day big truck pulled into our yard. It turns out they were there to “pump out our septic tank.” Now anything that was big and mechanical I was all about. I watched in amazement as they moved some dirt and pried this huge, heavy slab of concrete off an equally huge tank thing.
It was just about then, I decided to back up because whatever was in there was not cool. They put a big hose in that tank thing and began to suck it all out. Now I know this is a bit gross but stay with me. So, the tank was empty, and they slid the lid back in place and off they went. Well, soon I forgot the big truck and forgot about the thing under our porch. Months later, I was playing in our backyard, and I noticed that water was bubbling up from the ground…not in one place but several. And, soon, my nose took me back to what was under the porch. It turned out that thing under the porch had what was called a drain field…and it wasn’t working. And because it wasn’t working…what was hidden beneath the ground soon wasn’t. The stinky was revealed.
Well, afford it or not, like it or not, they came and dug up a big part of our backyard and replaced the old clay tile pipes with new ones. It was all pretty interesting and soon the holes were covered up and the equipment moved on and magically, the stinky was gone. Looking back, I think it was funny that something so funky and yucky could be right there beneath my feet and I never knew it…until it came to the surface. And once it started to bubble up…what was hidden no longer was.
I’ve lived long enough now to know what was true in my backyard is true in life. So often we allow some foul stuff to hang around in our lives. You know, secret sins, bad habits, and destructive addictions—stuff rolling around in our minds or banging around in our hearts. We manage to keep it all under control, “under the ground,” until one day…it bubbles to the surface, and you find yourself wondering, “Where did that come from?” Worse than that, people start wondering the same thing. You can take it to the bank that secrets often don’t remain secret. Moses, yup, the guy who led God’s people out of Egypt, said that we can be sure our sin, or our habits, or our addictions will be found out…they will eventually come to the surface.
What I learned about septic tanks as a kid is true today too. They needed regular maintenance and sometimes repair to function right. We need the same. We need to regularly examine our heart and our conscience to see if there is anything we need to get “pumped” out. If we are God followers, we need to have the courage to ask Him to check out what lurks below the surface of our lives. One of the writers of the Psalms in the Old Testament part of the Bible said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me.”
Some prayers are harder to pray than others…and this is one of those. Search me, know me, try me…know my thoughts. Giving God permission (though He really doesn’t need it) to pry into your stuff is hard but profitable. I mean, the prying isn’t for Him…it is for you. It helps you be a better you. Oh, and don’t worry…you can’t surprise Him. The big surprise is when you hear Him say, “Oh all that stuff, no problem. I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne