Saturday, December 20, 2014

Removing Toxins

2 Kings 4:38-41 Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company   of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant , "Put  on the large pot and cook some stew for these men." 

One of  them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of  his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, "O man of God , there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it. 

 Elisha said, "Get some flour." He put it into the pot and said, "Serve it to the people to eat." And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

Among Elisha's many miracles, one of them was the removal of the poison from the pot of stew so the people could continue to eat. Food was scarce and the people were hungry, no doubt. When it became difficult to find something to add to the stew, one person unknowingly gathered toxic gourds to add to the stew. Sure enough, the gourds were no good and Elisha removed the toxin from the stew.  The people were then able to enjoy their food.

When I think about things that are toxic in life, whether it be people, things, or emotions, we are often faced with either allowing the toxin to embrace our life or we must remove it. I think of things like relationships with difficult people, things that play on our emotions, or things that can cause us to stumble. For some it might be an addiction to something that has a stronghold on their life. For others, it might be a person who continues to bring them down. It could even be something that triggers the emotion of anger for a person. Or it could be consuming too much sugar in one's diet leading to the decline of the health and well-being of that person.

 If looked up in the Webster's Dictionary, the word toxic means, "Of or pertaining to poisonpoisonous." The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus says, "containing or contaminated with a substance capable of injuring or killing a living thing."   Other words for it are: "contagious, infectious, harmful, hurtful, unhealthful, deadly, corruptive, damaging."

Now think about the things that are currently toxic to your life at the moment. What comes to mind? Maybe it's something very obvious. Or maybe it's multiple things. These toxic things or people are enough to hurt us, damage us, and even become deadly. When thought of in those other terms, it's easy to see how these toxins can really be destructive in many ways, including our walk with God. They can be deadly and torment us beyond belief. They can suck the hope right out of a person.

When I think of what's toxic in my own life, I envision the slippery serpent in the Garden of Eden whispering into my ear in the most slithery way. It makes me shiver just thinking about how slimy and unfathomable those images can come to mind.

I think of that mother who thinks back on her day with thoughts of not being good enough because of what the world wants her to think is the only way to be... perfect. I think of the daughter who feels like she can never measure up. I think of the wife who wants to be better looking, a better cook, or a better mate. I think of the son who is seeking his father's approval. I think of the overweight person who can't stop consuming fried foods. I think of the husband who can't stop glancing at pornography behind his wife's back. I think of the person who can't stop gossiping about everyone else. I think of the one who continues to allow others to control their life without taking control for them-self. I think of the drunk who needs one more drink to take away the pain of the past. I think of all that we allow to control our thoughts, lives, emotions, fears, and much more.

As I travel through this life journey that God has given me, I have been in the process of trying to remove those things that are toxic to my life.  I watch the news less because much of it depresses me. I try to be careful with who I spend my time with as I focus on those who are going to lift me up, not tear me down. I turned off most social media sites so I could focus on what really matters. I don't bring beauty, entertainment, and most other magazines into my home as I know that a majority of the articles pertain to false ideas and images. And I also don't want to raise daughters (or sons) to think that many of those images are things we need to strive to be or that the articles having to do with certain issues are actually going to work. I don't watch many things on TV or at the movies as I know I will take offense to something vulgar or graphic. I take a careful approach to who I surround myself with, setting appropriate boundaries, and distancing myself from those who are toxic people.

Instead of embracing the things that cause damage, I try to focus on the beautiful things that lift me up, bring me hope, and lead me closer to God. I search my surroundings for things each day that are apart of God's Creation. I act silly with my little people like when we danced to Christmas music at the Amphitheater of a nearby park not caring what the spectators would pass by and think. I look for things to celebrate in all kinds of ways because life is worth celebrating. I do whatever I can to find ways to enjoy my day without the bad things or people so I can fulfill God's purpose for me here on Earth.

 Unfortunately, new toxins begin to come in and I start working on those as they arrive. It's kind of like a wave where I start to feel like I am sinking and drowning beneath the harmful and deadly things. As I remove them, I come back up for air and a sigh of relief. Yet, before long, I am starting to sink again.

But here's the catch! These toxins MUST be removed before it's too late. If Elisha hadn't removed the toxins from the stew, those people would have been dead. If we don't remove the toxins in our own life, we could very well be headed the same direction.

Now imagine a giant dustpan in front of you. It needs to be the biggest one you've ever seen. You are being handed a big broom, like one of those long outdoors ones you see at the hardware store. As you think about those toxins that are affecting your life at this moment, imagine them being swept right into that big dustpan ready to be thrown out. Come on! You can do this! Keep on sweeping until they are brushed away. Better yet, we might as well get that handheld blower. It'll remove them that much quicker.

 And breathe! Doesn't that feel much better? Now that they are gone, what will you do to keep them from coming back and taking over your life again? If you aren't sure where to start or what to do, give it all to God. He will show you the best way to remove them. Be blessed and know we are all on this journey together. 

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