“It’ll be fun!” they said.
“It’s not a lot of work,” they said.
“It’ll be a great learning experience,” they added.
What am I talking about? A fish tank. THIS ONE to be exact!
You see, I love fish. I can’t remember I time in my life when I didn’t have my own fish tank (even had one in my apartment at college) or when my mom didn’t have a HUGE one at home. So, when she mentioned getting my son one for his bedroom, I thought, “Well, it can’t hurt, right?” WRONG!
You see, since we set this tank up, from the very beginning, we’ve had a problem. It started as a little annoyance, but it has grown into a HUGE problem. I’ve tried to remedy it. I’ve worked diligently to avoid it. But it keeps coming back! What is it? ALGAE!
So, as I was thinking about this algae problem and how to solve it, I started thinking about my life. See, algae starts as something little. It’s so small you don’t even notice it. Even when it starts to grow, it’s not a huge deal. Sometimes it even looks kinda cool. Gives the tank a “rustic” look. But over time, it becomes a huge problem and is difficult to get rid of.
Kinda like sin. It starts with a temptation. “Sex is fun.” “A little pornography won’t hurt anyone.” “No one will know if you overeat a little bit.” But then it starts to grow, so slow that you don’t even notice it. All of the sudden, you have a huge problem. You’re involved in “casual” relationships, sleeping around with whomever. You’re sneaking around to view pornography, and not just pictures anymore but the videos too. You don’t just overeat at dinner, you start sneaking food and gaining weight. Then what? How do you stop?!
Well, with this fish tank, I first had to acknowledge the problem. It’s the same with sin…you have to admit you have a problem and confess it to Jesus. But that’s not the end. Just because I could admit that there was a problem with excessive algae in this tank did not make it suddenly go away. Sin won’t just disappear because you acknowledge that it’s there and that it’s a problem.
Next, I had to make a plan. I had to figure out how to eliminate the problem…I had to clean the fish tank. Not just your run-of-the-mill cleaning by just changing the water. This problem needed a DEEP clean. Like, take everything out of the tank clean. It’s the same with sin. We have to come up with a plan of how to eliminate the problem.
But, we have to identify the source. That’s not always easy. I don’t know where the algae started from, but I could see where it was. With sin, we have to get to the “root” of the problem (did you see what I did there..haha). The problem may not be sex…it may be the inability to love yourself. The problem may not be the food itself, but a lack of self control or even making the food an idol.
So, I took EVERYTHING I could out of the tank.
Then, I scrubbed it. At first, I used a sponge, you know, to get the BIG stuff off. The obvious algae. With sin, we can generally eliminate the big problem: stop sleeping around, get rid of your computer, remove the food source. But I knew it was going to take more effort than just a sponge because I had already done that before. I needed more power!
So, I got a toothbrush. And I brushed the nooks and crannies of everything. I brushed where I could see and where I couldn’t see. That’s like getting rid of the temptations. For example, only hanging out with groups of people; not being alone with someone, or anyone for that matter. Setting up safeguards on your computer. Not buying the junk food at the store or going out to eat.
I wasn’t sure that the scrubbing, brushing, and water changing was going to be enough. I mean, I had completely changed the water, scrubbed the sides of the tank, and did everything else I could think of. But I figured there was probably a little of bit of algae that I was sure to miss. So, I got more help! I bought these algae drops (**CAUTION: These kill ALL invertebrates…that means snails. 😦 ) With sin, we can try all we can to confess it to Jesus, identify and remove the source, but the temptation still remains. So what do we do? We have to add accountability…telling someone else about our problem and asking them to help us overcome temptation when it rears its head because IT WILL REAR ITS HEAD!
So, after all that work, here is what the tank looks like now:
It will still take lots of work to maintain, but I believe the “dirty” work is done, at least for now. The same goes with sin. It takes a lot of effort to overcome a hurdle, an addiction, because it’s an idol. We can overcome it with lots of hard work on our part and lots of grace and mercy from Jesus; but, I can guarantee the temptation will still attack us, because that’s how Satan operates. But when we find an accountability partner (and are honest with them…I’ll save that for a future post), we have a better chance of completely overcoming it. We’ll be able to identify and eliminate the source as soon as it comes up so that it doesn’t grow into a problem that requires a major overhaul.
So, what’s your algae? What are you needing to deep clean today? Just your bucket (identify your problem), sponge (Bible), toothbrush (Holy Spirit), and your algae drops (accountability partner), and GET TO WORK!