Sometimes in trying to fix a problem, you create another one. It happens all the time, in high and low places. Or in the case of our house, which is situated rather high on a hill, the problem occurred in the lower level of our housel.
I'm remembering this problem because yesterday we had another showing on the house. I was careful to clean and neaten up the house but at the same time, not create the problem that I did when we first listed the house.
We were having a Broker's Open House and I was getting the house ready for what would be a real hard nosed critique by these savvy brokers who were coming. I thought I did everything right, until the written critique came in a couple days later. There were some glowing comments about our house having a lovely "alpine setting" and some other nice comments. But there were two comments that referenced something similar to Marcellus' comment: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".
I had vacuumed the carpets with a borrowed vacuum cleaner (ours was broken) that had not had the filter changed in a while. A long while. There was a dank musty odor left over after the vacuuming that I had not really detected in my frenzy to get the house ready. Here I had freshly vacuumed carpets (yeah!) but a nasty musty odor at the same time (oh no!).
This seems to happen a lot in life. You try to do something good but you sometimes cause a problem in the process. I think God has a lot of compassion for us when this happens. In fact, I would venture to say God has more compassion and grace for us, when this happens, than we do for ourselves.
But I think one thing God is not too compassionate about is when we deliberately disobey, or faithlessly want to retreat or return to old addictions, old problems and patterns of the past. And I think God has to be very firm with us when this happens. He has to thunder at us, in warning, when we want to sabotage our progress.
When the Israelites were in the desert, they really got God's dander up when they complained of His lack of provision and referenced that they, at least, had some food back in Egypt. God rains down a new type of food, called Manna, and He gives them the provision they had complained He doesn't give. But he does test them, as well. (It's for God to test us, not for us to ever test God).
He tells them, through Moses, not to gather more than what they need for that day. In other words, every day now, they were going to have to believe and trust and have faith that He would rain down the manna. And some did not want to trust Him. Some did not want to have faith that He would provide. So they gathered extra manna to hoard it for another day. "And it bred worms and it stank".
This odor of unbelief is a lot different than the bad smell of a botched up plan to do something good. I try to comfort myself with this revelation every time I start to do something good and wind up failing at it or fumbling around. Maybe I could even look at my botched up progress as something that still smells like a beautiful fragrance to God. God loves it when His children step out in faith- even if they later fall and skin their knees.
But if I do something out of fear, out of unbelief, out of a deliberate refusal to trust what God has already proven Himself faithful in doing and providing, over and over- then I not only disappoint God, I also have a musty odor. To Him. It could be that sometimes God sighs and says, "Something is rotten in the state of Lauren's mind- because she doesn't trust me". Ouch! I don't want that said of me either. (I know, I also said in one of my recent posts that I don't want it said of me that I'm so heavenly minded, I'm no earthly good. So now I'm accumulating things I don't want said of me!)
Some of you might be saying, "Lauren, just go out and buy a new vacuum cleaner and you won't go into these ruminations!". But just for the record, my broken vacuum cleaner was a brand new one that I just bought! Not new enough to be under warranty and return it, but new enough that it made me mad it wasn't working already.
Still, after cleaning out the filter and the bag of the borrowed vacuum cleaner, it still has a bit of a musty odor. I need a brand new vacuum cleaner. (I might get that one with the ball that easily glides around corners. How's that for how advertising gets you!). Whatever I get, I not only need a new vacuum cleaner, but I need new faith for each day. It's a gutsy faith- not the kind with a serene smile and a passive stance.
Because while my house had a momentary problem with this, I don't want any unbelieving stench coming from me. I want God to not only see me approaching Him, but to smell me a mile away! He'll take a whiff of my operative faith and instead of scrunching up His nose in displeasure, He'll smile at the fragrant aroma of my fresh Fiery Faith.