I have a confession to make.
I have pumpkins on my front porch. Five, to be precise.
From, you know…
Does it make things better that I bought them in late September?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. But here’s the thing. They were front and center through Thanksgiving…and when I was putting Christmas decorations on the front porch, I was tired and had a three-year old assistant and…okay, no excuses are really going to hold water here (my mother and father, when they read this, will vehemently agree).
I can admit it– I was plain lazy and nudged them into a corner with my foot instead of lugging them around back to the trash can or woods.
And since then? Well…they’ve been such well-behaved pumpkins. They haven’t been noisy or underfoot. They haven’t rang the doorbell to complain about the weather. They let the neighborhood cats rub their backs against them. They just sat there, all quiet and orange. Totally unobtrusive. Even when I took the Christmas wreath and lights down, they didn’t make a fuss. I’d considered carrying them away once the lights were stored upstairs in the attic, but I made a lot of trips up to the attic that day. The back yard, once again, just seemed so far away.
And so the pumpkins remained in their corner, a slight nudge of “I should really get rid of those” every time I walked up the steps to the front door (a thought usually immediately followed with: I’ll get to it later. They’re fine.)
Which brings us to this morning…I’d gone to drop the boys off at and returned home, looking forward to my coffee. I was unlocking the front door when I noticed it — a strange scent in the air. Not a pleasant smell. More of a…hold your breath until it passes kind of vibe.
I looked around the yard and then…orange caught my eye. The pumpkin family. Common sense raised its hand and I got a bit closer to investigate. They looked totally fine. The same as when I put them in those spots…oh….3 months ago? I nudged the smaller guy.
His stem fell off and he rolled over. An oozy, decidedly not cheerful orange-ish bottom stared up at me.
They have looked okay, sure, but…beneath the surface, there was some decomposing going on. Beneath the surface, there was a problem, even though I’d done a great job at ignoring its development for all this time. All it took was a warmer day and a tumble to reveal it.
And now? They have to be dealt with. I have to carry stinky, rotten pumpkins and it’s going to be gross and I am not going to like it one little bit.
I’m wishing I’d just properly put them away when I knew I should’ve.
As I grumbled my way into the house, what came to mind was the pumpkins in my heart.
Maybe you know this particular kind of pumpkin, too. Those “little” attitudes or habits that we kick to the corner cause we’re not quite ready to deal with them yet…”little” problems that we make excuses to leave unresolved. Maybe we don’t have time. Maybe we’ve already dealt with the more obvious things and feel like we’ve cleaned up enough for the day. Maybe picking them up will require us to make restitution or to change our routine…effort that doesn’t seem necessary since these pumpkins don’t cause major friction in our day-to-day lives. So they’re sat aside…and we think, one day I’ll give that up to God. One day, I’ll surrender it so He can take care of it. In the meantime, it’s not that noticeable. It’s just over there in the corner, is all. No big deal.
But here’s the thing about waiting: in this kind of scenario, no action equals stagnation. Beneath the surface, things continue to disintegrate. Sin is sin, whatever ‘large’ or ‘small’ label we try to attach to it…and the nature of sin is to destroy. Sin that is not surrendered to the Lord will only fester. It will only to continue to infect you, affecting your relationships with others and with God.
And when things in your life heat up-when circumstances shake you up–that’s often the moment those unresolved issues present themselves in all of their ugly, totally obstructive reality. Whatever current difficulty you’re having, it’ll only be harder to handle.
Please don’t wait. It is so easy to store away bitterness. Long held fear or grudges, pride…habits that we know aren’t pleasing to God. Maybe out of fear or shame, we kick things to the corner and hope that they somehow resolve themselves…but that’s not how sin works. We need to bring them to our High Priest, our Mediator…our Savior.
John 1:9 says that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We can trust Him, even — especially— with the messy parts of our lives that we try to shine up or hide away. He is the redeemer of everything in our souls.
Jesus came to bear our sins for us and to forgive us, leaving no room for condemnation in His mercy and grace. Where sin would rot and destroy, He offers a newly-made heart, pure and free in His righteousness.
I pray that we will come to Him in acceptance of His life-giving love, offering every part of our lives.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~from Psalm 139