By Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com
By Annie Yorty
"Let all who fear the Lord repeat: 'His faithful love endures forever.' In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free" (Psalm 118:4-5 NLT).
“Ewww.” I scrunched my face at the sight of fat, juicy earthworms littering the path to my mailbox. Too lazy to go back inside the house for shoes, I tiptoed around them, wary of touching the wriggling invertebrates with my bare feet. A drenching rain after a hot, dry spell had floated the worms to the surface seeking oxygen. Now the July sun blazed overhead, quickly heating the pavement and baking the slimy creatures. An hour later, most of the worms lay shriveled and dying on the sidewalk. Only a few escaped the carnage wrought by the sun. Those creatures from the mud remind me of things hidden in my life—past wounds and sins I’ve buried—that resurface during stressful times.
Wounds burrow into our lives from our earliest days—cutting criticism from a teacher, a bully’s insults, parents who split up, a father who abandoned the family. I have a friend whose beloved grandma died when he was ten years old. No one helped him understand his grief, so he stuffed his loss deep inside. Another friend cannot escape the echoes of her older brother’s jeers about her appearance. Children display remarkable resilience because they often absorb and normalize these painful events. We assume all is well because they seem to move on, but their wounds lurk in the dark.
Adults also bury hurts. Rifts in relationships, being passed over for a promotion, rejection, and many other wounds and sins litter our lives. Wounds usually come from the poor choices of others. But what about the pain we inflict in the form of both unconscious and deliberate sins? Left unconfessed, these also dig into our lives and find lodging.
God warns about how bitterness demoralizes us when wounds and sins remain under the surface, unexposed. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT).
Did you catch that? Bitterness troubles you and corrupts others. But this verse also offers hope—the hope that God’s grace overcomes every awful effect of bitterness. God’s grace comes in many surprising forms. Sometimes it washes over us like a soft rain gently nourishing the earth. Other times, we find His grace in the middle of flashing lightning and cracks of thunder.
Just as a driving rain floats worms to the surface, so too the stresses of life bring out lingering bitterness from painful wounds or sins. I confess this is true in my own life. I skip along my path happily ignoring some old problem I’d rather not address. Sooner or later, though, stress triggers me to lash out according to my past, unresolved hurts. My “worms” lay exposed on the sidewalk of my life, ready for the light of God’s grace.
Maybe you, like me, have chafed at the discomfort, embarrassment, or regret you feel when God exposes issues we’ve carefully hidden. Have you considered that God, in grace and mercy, may be using your circumstances to push them out from underground to shine His healing light upon them?
Though God’s intense light glares painfully, exposure is the first step toward true healing. In Ephesians 5:10-11 NLT, Apostle Paul advises, “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” God’s light of grace shrivels bitterness that has grown fat in darkness until it can no longer tunnel back underground.
Why not cooperate with God when He allows pressure-filled circumstances to uncover what’s wriggling under the surface of your life? Begin by thanking Him for the grace of struggles that reveal your slimy worms. Then settle yourself under His examination light while it burns up any bitterness your circumstances revealed. Praise Him as He clears away dried-up carcasses from the past, so they no longer control you. Finally, revel in the freedom to walk barefoot without tiptoeing around the worms of the past.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
What “worms” is God bringing to the surface of your life? In what ways do you see Him working to heal past wounds or problems with sin?
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/momnoi
Annie Yorty writes and speaks to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. She has written From Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed through Down Syndrome. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.