Clogs and Bogs

By Jeff Miller

I did something gross recently.  Pam and I have been in our ‘new’ home a year now. Pam seemed to think that rainwater ought to go out through the downspouts, not simply overflow our gutters like a raging waterfall.  She is a purist about these things sometimes.  So up the ladder I went.

I nearly gagged.  Every part of our gutter system was filled with a putrid, smelling concoction of muddy sediment, rotting maple tree helicopters, and decomposing leaves.  It smelled terrible, looked terrible and felt terrible.  Every single downspout for the whole house was completely clogged shut by this guttural bog. A new forest was growing in my gutters. A whole new ecosystem was being created in front of my eyes.  It was my great delight that day to clean all of that out and get the water flowing again.  Happy wife, happy life (as they say).

We ministry types are always asking, “Is there a good sermon illustration and life lesson in here somewhere?”  And I think that in the muck and mire of my clogged gutters is indeed a good lesson or two for us (beyond the obvious ‘clean your gutters out annually’ homeowner lesson). 

Seems to me that two things can fill up our life channels and clog the pathways of our lives and ministry.

The first is sinful, selfish choices and practices that can clutter our lives and dam our ministry effectiveness.  Our first D is to Depend upon the Holy Spirit.  Hard to do that when there is so much sin and self solidifying in the streams of our lives.  Are there things in your life that are quenching the flow of the Spirit?  What will you do to get out of that proverbial gutter?  Pause for personal assessment, refocusing, and even repentance.

The second is more subtle.  It is the myriad of little things, good things, seemingly important things, that can take up all of our time and energy.  The stuff that was filling up my gutters at my house was not inherently bad stuff.  It was just a massive amount of good stuff in the wrong place and in the wrong quantity and for the wrong amount of time. 

I have recently paused in my ministry to ask and pray for an answer about this question: What is the one thing (or maybe two) that I absolutely must do, as District Superintendent, for the Ohio Valley District to truly move forward to the glory of the King and the advancement of His Kingdom? Whatever my answer is to that question should guide and guard every other ministry decision I make.  Too much of an abundance of other good and valuable, but not most important, ministry items can ultimately clog the flow of effective ministry in and through you (and me).  If you are in ministry you ought to pause and answer, “What is the one (or maybe two) thing that I really must do for my church/ministry to thrive and advance?”  It should impact your schedule, your budget, your hours, your study, your team, your recruiting, your strategy, your goals, your relationships.  It should be the first part of your thinking and planning – everything else follows.

Join me in pausing to clear out and clean out the channels of your life, where necessary, so that the Spirit can flow unhindered and unimpeded.