“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
We are instructed by God to submit every aspect of our lives to him. Anything contrary to his will (no matter how cherished or insignificant it may seem) weakens our relationship with him and cripples our spiritual growth.
Just as headaches may actually be the symptom of a physical problem hidden somewhere else in the body, coldness in our spiritual lives may be caused by a problem hidden in some unexpected part of our nature. As the Holy Spirit shows us things we have not yet surrendered, we’ve got to give them up to him. Hannah Whitall Smith explained the need for vigilant submission to the Holy Spirit by relating an unusual housekeeping problem she once had:
We had moved into a new home, and I noticed in the cellar a very clean-looking cider barrel sealed up at both ends. Busy moving in, I left it undisturbed. I did not feel quite easy about this choice, but reasoned away my scruples and left it. Every spring and fall, as I cleaned, I would remember that cask with a little twinge of housewifely conscience which I managed to ignore for two or three years. Then, most unaccountably, moths began to fill our house. I tried everything I knew to do to eradicate them. Nevertheless, they increased rapidly and threatened much ruin. After cleaning and replacing carpets and upholstery and all sorts of things, the thought of the barrel flashed on me. At once I had it brought up the stairs and into the yard, where it was opened. Thousands of moths poured out, and finally the problem was solved.
Innocent looking habits or indulgences, sometimes apparently unimportant and safe things about which we now and then have little twinges of conscience, lie at the root of much spiritual weakness. Some secret corner of our lives may still be kept locked against our Lord’s presence. To prevent spiritual failure, or to discover its cause, we need to ask him to show us what has yet to be relinquished. Then we need to listen to his still small voice.
So, what’s bugging you?
Hannah W. Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875), 134-135, author’s paraphrase.