Ants in the Cupboard

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15

Have you ever returned home from a vacation to find something waiting for you that you’d rather not deal with?
That’s what happened to us last week after returning from visiting our son in Florida. The counter was being used as a superhighway for several dozen large black ants. The first thing I did was investigate where they were coming from and what attracted them in the first place. In the pantry I found what I thought was the source of the problem, a box of cereal that was not quite clipped closed all the way. Creeping exoskeletons hard at work gathering food is a pleasant picture on the Discovery Channel but NOT in your cereal box.
After quickly disposing of the box, ants and all, I cleaned out the pantry, vacuuming pesky ants wherever they showed themselves. Victory! Well, at least we thought so. The next day the ants were back, this time in the coffee cupboard. When Marty opened up the cabinet to grab a coffee mug he found the ants’ hiding place. He graciously began emptying the cabinet and found, in the dark, back corner, a sugar bowl with a loose fitting lid. I am thankful the ants were visible and we were able to recognize the problem. It was dirty work and time consuming. However, in order to have freedom from the pests we had to keep digging and do the work. Along with disinfectant and spraying the house, inside and out, with insecticide, we finally did gain victory.
In the same way God allows visible “pests” in our own lives for the purpose of freedom and victory. When we can recognize ungodly behavior and ways of coping that control others or leave us out of control it is an opportunity to clean out an ant infested cabinet within our own hearts. We see things so differently than God does. He knows the recesses of our hearts and loves us too much not to allow opportunity for freedom this side of heaven. It’s not “just your personality” to be anxious or angry. Something you believe that directly opposes God’s truth is crawling around in your heart and mind. Knowing this is crucial because there is now motivation to allow God to exterminate, clean and fill that space up with His loving truth. This too is hard work and much of what is uncovered may even be disgusting to you. However, this pressing into the pain is analogous to surgery. You allow the doctor to cut you open for the purpose of healing, not masking or harming, even though it may be a painful process.
I’m about six weeks away from offering a discipleship course at our church based on the book by Robert S. McGee called, The Search for Significance. (If you’ve never read the book I highly recommend it.) The first chapter is called “The Light Comes On.” This chapter makes me imagine a dark, forgotten room in a tropical climate full of cockroaches. When the light is turned on they scatter to hide in the darkness. That is what sin does. Our flesh does not want to die so it scatters, hiding itself in the cracks and crevices it hopes we will ignore. It calls itself part of our charm or personality while, at the same time, stinking up the joint.
Again, God loves us so much! The last thing He wants is for us to be living in a sin infested temple. He is also a gentleman who desires to lead you to victory over a life controlled by hidden sin. “Make your thoughts obedient to Christ” by replacing the lies (strongholds) with truth. This, of course, is easier said than done. Like the ants it will take hard work and time.
Are you being controlled by the love of Christ or by a stronghold? There really is no in-between. Lift up those arms in surrender and allow God to shine His light and clean out the ants in your cupboard. Because, It is for freedom sake that Christ has set you free! “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

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