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Unclogged

When our children were younger, one of my family's things to enjoy over the summer was trips to some of the local water parks. We have visited many, and recently we paid our first visit to LEGOLAND water park here in Florida.

Unfortunately, we got to the water park late in the day and so Tracie and I had to split up so that we could make the most of this experience. Tracie took Bethany on the big, crazy tall rides, and I went with Jonathan on the smaller water rides more suitable for five-year-olds. Jonathan and I were having a great time playing on the water covered in jungle gyms, climbing our way to the top of the equipment, which was probably about four stories high. The only logical way down was the direct route down through the water tube slides. Jonathan shouted to me to meet him at the bottom and jumped in, though I was a little hesitant. Not because of the height or depth of water, or anything like that, but because, well, these were tubes that were made for 5-10-year-olds who have much smaller body frames than me. I figured that I had nothing to lose and didn't want Jonathan to be waiting and wondering at the bottom for me, so I jumped in. As I did, I realized that these tubes were ACTUALLY made for people with smaller body types than me and also that the water that was supposed to carry me down was more of a trickle than a flow. I think momentum took me around the first bend, but then I just stopped. I was stuck. I was blocking the tube, and the water was not strong enough to carry me down. It started to jam up behind me. Perhaps enough water would finally build up to push me through? I could hear children at the other end of the tunnel jumping in, and panic started to set in. Not only did I have this water building up behind me, but I didn't need several seven-year-olds crashing into my back. Although I did wonder for a moment if they came fast enough, they would be able to knock me through the tube! For a few moments, I felt utterly helpless until I figured out what to do. After a few seconds of anxious thinking, I formed my body into a crab shape and slowly edged my way out. As I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I climbed out, and a whole gush of water came with me, and I just cleared the tunnel before the kids behind me gleefully shot out the bottom. For a brief moment, I was trapped. I was clogged and going nowhere.

Sometimes it feels like that in our spiritual lives. In Mark 11, we read about a time when Jesus saw a clog in a critical "tube" and got angry about it. The Temple was the place where people would come to converse with God, and in turn, God could respond with hope and blessing. But as Jesus walked into the Temple, He noticed that the purpose it was created for was clogged. Listed below, from Mark 11, are some thoughts about what it means to be clogged.

1) What are some things that clog?
In the Temple, it was the commercialization of religion, greed, and manipulating the poor that clogged the movement of God's Spirit. Often in our lives, is it wrong attitudes, actions, and aptitudes that can clog the flow of the Holy Spirit in our prayer relationship with Jesus.

2) Jesus is righteously angry about the things that clog!
Unfortunately, we don't do well with righteous anger. Most of our anger is because of something that we are losing; righteous anger is about others. Our rage is primarily selfish; righteous anger is unselfish. Let me ask you a couple of questions. Are you angry because of what it hinders in you or what it hinders in others? Are you mad because you are being mean or because you are kind? I would carefully suggest we need to figure out how to be righteously angry more often.

3) No one likes the mess of unclogging.
There are two groups, the Chief Priests and the Teachers of the Law that have struggled to agree on much, but around the issue of Jesus behavior, they joined hands across the aisle in their disgust about what He was saying because they didn't like the mess that they thought Jesus was creating. They failed to realize that the message of not unclogging is greater than the mess that needs to be cleaned up once something is unclogged. Think of your toilet!

4) Unaddressed spiritual clogging can lead to spiritual death.
Like the fig tree, like the Temple, like the Temple, like the Nation, this tree that Jesus curses to death is a sign of a clogged nation. He is condemning the promise without fulfillment, and it is the condemnation of a profession without practice.

5) An unclogged life allows the power of God to flow freely.
In concluding this story, Jesus talks about the power of living an unclogged life. It is a life that can overcome the mountains in our lives, the ability to pray in new – unhindered – ways where we can seek God, and He will find us. It also provides the power to forgive, knowing all that God has forgiven us will seep over into other relationships and empower us to seek Him.

How clogged is your relationship with God? What sin is your life that clogs this essential relationship with the God who created and loves you?

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