"If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you live."Numbers 33: 55
The other day, I was walking along a fence row and caught my sweater in a barb from a barbed wire fence. That booger was sharp and held fast to me, keeping me from treading further. As I tried to release myself from it, it tore into my clothing and flesh. It was a mess. It slowed me down. It caused me pain.
During Lent, we focus on repentance and cleansing. Our passage today from Numbers gives us a clue about confession. If we consider ourselves to be the fertile ground of the Lord from which fruitfulness can come, we must do our best to drive out anything from our "land" which is not of God.
Often in confession, we speak of those things which are on the surface. It is like cleaning a room. We attack what can be seen and leave the closet or the mess under the bed untouched.
Why? Because deep cleansing take a lot of time and work.
The problem is this: If we do not "drive out the inhabitants of the land" of our once carnal souls, what remains will raise its ugly head sooner or later. And when it does, it will not just be some dust to wipe away, but will be "barbs in our eyes and thorns in our sides."
It will tear at us. It will mess us up. It will slow us down. It will cause us pain.
Barbs in the eye--just thinking about that image is brutally painful. A speck in my eye causes great tearing, blinking and blurred vision. But a ragged barb! Imagine the sight lost. Imagine the spiritual blindness.
And a thorn in the side. Splinters in the tough calloused fingers are bad enough, but a huge thorn piercing the tender flesh of the abdomen? Yikes! Imagine the doubling over that would cause. Imagine the inability to look up.
Barbs in the eye remind me of something the Master said about specks and logs in the eye.
Thorns in the side remind me of our Brother Paul's complaint about the thorn in his flesh.
Both of these New Testament stories speak of sin and its burden played out in the human body and psyche.
God says: "They will give you trouble..."
So, the question to me and perhaps to you is this.
Will I cooperate with God and drive out the inhabitants in my soul so God can fully possess me? Or will I continue to hold onto things I should drive out?
LORD, give us the strength to fight the battle against that which must be driven out of us so that our vision is clear and our position toward you is upright.