Holdout. Fortress. Stronghold.
All the spaces I keep for myself. All the decisions for which I refuse to surrender control.
Until we fumigated for termites, I hadn’t realized how many I have.
Last year, a fairly normal insect mitigation event presented an unlikely spiritual metaphor that changed my perspective on my relationship with God.
We live in South Florida. Due to the tropical climate, we deal with invasive insects like termites. Seeing an entire home or even apartment building ‘tented’ and fumigated is no big deal.
As we learned, it requires that:
• Occupants move out of their home for three nights (including pets)
• All food be removed from the refrigerator
• All ‘unsealed’ food be removed from cabinets
Then gas is pumped into the home. It sits inside the home, unable to escape due to the tent surrounding the structure. Anything living within will die.
As we prepared for this fumigation, I looked around the house. Realizing every nook and cranny would be touched by this gas. There was no crack or crevice that would not feel its infiltration. There was no way to wall off any area from the gas.
As I mused on the extent of the gas’s efficacy, I was struck by the comparison of our home’s fumigation to the fumigation of my soul. I wondered about how many parts of myself I wall off from the Holy Spirit. I undoubtedly let the Spirit in, but I also don’t give it full reign. I have hold outs – places I’ve fortressed off. Drawers I’ve locked up and sealed. The spirit is welcome to wander around, but down the hall, there’s a secret spot that I’ve protected against it.
Funny though because rather than poison me, the Spirit comes to inhabit the nooks and crannies in order to give life.
How much of the space in your house-soul have you allowed the Spirit to seek and find? What dark spots are you insisting on protecting? Why are they sacred to you?
For me, full surrender seems scary. The most spiritual people are often the ones who seem to get thrown the hardest curve balls in life. As a dear friend explained…this is likely because they understand that our life on earth is a journey of refinement to a closer likeness of Christ. It’s in the struggle that we draw closer to Him and become more like him. If that is the purpose of existence, it’s the most spiritual who understand that to begin with. They’ve surrendered their full home to be cleansed by the Spirit. They’ve opened every nook and cranny – willing to let God have it all.
And, just like fumigation, unless we turn it all over…there’s a chance that the problem-causing insects won’t be released. We chance that they will reek havoc in our lives sooner than they should because we haven’t let the gas into every holdout.
Why do we keep our strongholds? What do we hide in the dark? If we truly let God fumigate…seep into, infiltrate, permeate… what ‘pests’ might his love mitigate?
A synonym of ‘surrender’ is ‘lay down arms’.
Is today the day you lay down arms? Pick one stronghold and let it receive the healing, protection, exposure to love in its purest form. Just one. One at a time.