I just went on a lovely spring run in the desert. It appears the entire desert is in bloom: prickly pears sporting purple petals, trees covered in blossoms of yellow, pink and white, bottle brush in red, and wild flowers bursting through the desert floor in a rainbow of colors. Scents of orange blossom waft through the air and a junior bunny rabbit crosses my path with its white tail bouncing behind it. This would all be wonderful, except a rare, rather blustery, spring breeze is also flowing through the valley of the sun and, it just so happens, I am having the worst allergy season of my life.
I wipe at my sand paper crusted eyes, and hold my breath as I pass a young man trimming all the desert foliage and further adding to the “particulate pollution.” As I look over to the McDowell mountains, the haze of pollens obstructs my view, reminding me of the “Claritin clear” commercial. It looks like a hazy old romantic photograph or a doctored up “glamour shot”—I can barely see the outline of the mountains against the sky. Seeing very few of the usual dog walkers and joggers, I am certain that, had I had watched the news, I am venturing out in a “HEALTH ADVISORY” kind of day.
As I plug along, determined to burn off last night’s carb’s, all these pollens trigger something in me besides a histamine response. I think of sin. How it can cloud our ability to see things clearly; our ability to see truth. How sometimes we don’t even know how bad it is for us or how slowly it has creeped up on us and invaded our lives. Suddenly we find ourselves “in it.”
The subtlety of sin is like pollen. Some have an immediate reaction to it. For others, it doesn’t seem to faze them. But it seems to be seeping into our culture.
When did this happen? When did kids stop saying the “pledge of allegiance in schools?” When did it become a “holiday party” instead of “Christmas celebration?” In a world with pornography at our fingertips, violence splashed unabashedly in nearly every movie, and the “F-word” as common in conversation as allergies in the desert, I think we are all under attack.
Casting Crown’s lyrics from “Slow Fade” tell a haunting tale:
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day
Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”
When I first moved to the desert (some fifteen summers ago), I got sick: fever, chills, coughing, stuffy head, achy, etc., It lasted for days before I went to the doctor. No antibiotics for me. Diagnosis: Allergies. They told me everyone in Arizona either has them or will get them and I would just have to get used to it.
I didn’t accept that. A week later I still had the same symptoms. I got a second opinion. Antibiotics took care of it. After that, I took matters into my own hands. I exercised, ate right, took supplements and did what was in my power to stay healthy. I still occasionally will get ill. And, after fifteen summers, I now truly have those dreaded allergies. Some things are beyond our control.
Last summer, we had a record monsoon season. The term “haboob” became a part of every valley residents’ vocabulary. These massive walls of dust have been featured on national news and to see them coming toward you is very foreboding! Unlike the allergies and the winds blowing pollens, with haboobs at least you have a warning for these storms as they head at you like the wall of sand in “The Mummy.” I have just heard forecast of a possible haboob/dust storm for today.
Whether we are caught unawares in our sins or have had our lives disasters broadcast on national news, we don’t have to stay accept the slow fade of sin in our lives.
In Acts, The Bible tells of how Paul, a killer of Christians was transformed from his sins: “What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16)
We can come to the feet of Jesus, call out to Him and be washed clean of our sins and selfishness.
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Although sin surrounds us, we can take matters into our own hands:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
Usually after one of these massive dust storms, the desert is drenched in a monsoonal downpour. The streets flood with muddy waters and by the next day, the evidence of the haboob has been washed clean. All that remains is the news story and pools of waters in the washes newly afloat with ducks and geese.
Like a spring rain in the desert, dousing the pollens in the air and replenishing reservoirs, Jesus renews our lives. He sprinkles refreshing, cleansing, purifying water that is new life flowing through us.
I hope you never get caught in a haboob. I hope you never suffer from allergies. Above all, I hope you choose to not accept the slow fade of sin in your life and you will make the call out to Jesus.