Thursday, October 28, 2010
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If you travel America's interstate highways much, you've seen lots of cars, lots of scenery, and lots of road kills. Yes, many animals still think they can beat the cars that are storming down the highway - and they're wrong. They end up as those carcasses we see by the edge of the road. It must be a full-time job just picking up all those road kills. At one spot on an interstate in Pennsylvania, they didn't pick up one of them. The news reported that a paving crew found a dead deer in their path and they didn't remove it. They just paved right over it! Great! No one could see it now, but they sure felt it!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Paved-Over Problems."
It may seem unbelievable that people actually paved over an obstacle in the road. But don't be surprised, it happens all the time - in human relationships. Instead of dealing with a conflict or a problem, we just pave over it. But everyone's still going to keep hitting that bump in the road. And it's going to keep causing problems until you get it out in the open and get rid of it.
God has never been a fan of paving over problems. Throughout the Bible, He consistently tells us to do quick repairs, to deal with things while they're small, to face issues rather than burying them. For example, in Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 26, our word for today from the Word of God, He says: "In your anger do not sin." Notice - God recognizes there will be times when we get angry, but there's a way to keep that from becoming a hurtful sin. "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
Don't pave over the disagreement or the hurt. Deal with it right away while it's small, before you stuff it and give the devil something he can turn into bitterness and resentment. In fact, the very next verse says: "And do not give the devil a foothold." A few verses later, God commands us to deal aggressively with any "road kill" that we might be tempted to just pave over. "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
I know of no way to get rid of hard feelings and hurts and conflicts without getting them out in the open where you can face them and deal with them. Sometimes that means taking the risk of confronting; "speaking the truth in love," as the Bible says. Even here, we're told in Ephesians how to - and not to - do it: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up." You confront in a building up way; not a tearing down way. First, gently explain how you feel, recognizing that your feelings might be wrong. Let them explain what they meant to say or do - often understanding eliminates the issue. Extend to that person who hurt you the same undeserved forgiveness that Jesus extended to you. Then work together on steps that can help you walk together in harmony from here.
The things you've tried to bury are like ticking time bombs or toxic waste dumps. The longer you wait to deal with them, the bigger and deeper they will grow. Peace at any price usually means just war postponed...and bigger than it would have been if you had dealt with it sooner. How many marriages could have been saved, how many family relationships could have been saved, how many friendships, ministries, churches could have been spared devastating hurts and divisions if only someone had refused to pave over what should have been confronted and removed. Allow me to suggest a good time to do that in your life - today!