A few mornings ago I woke up rather early. As I began my morning routine, I was surprised to find half-dead roaches lying on their backs in my bathroom, living room, and porch. When I went to sweep up one, it turned out to be a bit less than half-dead. I finished it off. Then I opened a cupboard door for some cleaning supplies and out fell another one. Yikes!

Israel and roaches

Now before you say, “Dvora, you are an awful housekeeper,” let me tell you a bit about Israel and roaches. If you didn’t know, Gazelles are the national animal of Israel. This is probably because gazelles are more beautiful. Interestingly, there are at least 13 references to gazelles in the Bible. Granted a few relate to whether or not you can eat them, but the rest look at their beauty, speed, and skill when running on rocky heights. On the other hand, cockroaches in the Bible are always associated with filth and uncleanliness. Not a very good status image – ergo, the gazelle won out – even though there are far more cockroaches in Israel than gazelles.

I remember when I first made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) and discovered that roaches are skilled at flying right into your windows, with no respect for the room they choose nor for the time. That is still the case. Nevertheless, most Israeli homes do not have screens on their windows. Hence, the endless battle against roaches, searching for and destroying their eggs, and stomping on the smallest moving black speck to make sure it doesn’t become an upside down, half-dead one in your living room (exhausted most likely after hiding its eggs where you know you won’t find them.

I guess you are wondering why I am regaling you with roach stories.

Roaches and sin have a lot in common

After dealing with the roaches, I made a cup of coffee and sat down for my quiet time. I’ll have to be honest; I wasn’t looking forward to it. You see, the day before, I’d been confronted with something I’d done that had really hurt another person. I won’t go into the details, but needless to say, while I did not do it intentionally, I was confronted with a hidden arrogance and pride in myself that I did not want to think about because it was not a new problem. It was more like a roach egg swept under the carpet, hatched uncaught, and the ugly thing had suddenly matured and made itself visible.

As I confessed my sin before the Lord, He reminded me of a song that a friend and I had written in jest during our post-college days at two in the morning. Some of the words were:

Lord I have to ask you, why did you make the roach?
They multiply like rabbits and we cringe at their approach.
Then I see the dirt they’re in is sometimes in my heart.
Lord use your can of Raid on me, so I’ll make a brand-new start.

I realized that verse was more true than I realized. Sin, like roaches, is terribly difficult to kill. I think I’ve found victory over a bad attitude, habit, or ungodly behavior. Suddenly there is this ugly thing laying before me, wiggling its hideous carcass at me, laughing at me, affecting my life, and warning me that it has laid eggs – and I have no idea where they are nor when or where they will hatch. There is nothing good that comes from sin. Roaches birth roaches – and sin births sin. And it has to be dealt with at every level.

At every stage, sin has to go

Pondering these things, I’m realizing on a new level that sin has got to go at every stage. There really is no such thing as a little sin worth getting away with. Uncaught and allowed to feed in the dark corners of our hearts, sooner or later, those little specs will grow into full-grown egg-laying adults, and when they do, the result is ugly.

God is “raiding” my heart

God raided my heart like the law enforcement person breaking into a house to catch the bad guy. He made me face the ugliness I’d allow to grow, the pride I’d humbly said was gone, and the darkness in my heart so carefully hidden that it needed to be rooted out with a deep dig and a strong pull.

That song He gave me and my friend so long ago was deeper than I realized. When I had asked God to use His can of Raid on me, I had thought we were referring to the blood of Jesus – and I eventually stopped sharing the song. It seemed sacrilegious to me. I should have realized that symbolically, God’s can of Raid is the Holy Spirit. He is the one who can get into the deepest places of my heart and expose the darkness so that I will bring it to Jesus for cleansing and forgiveness.

I am so ashamed of what I did. But oh, how grateful I am for a loving heavenly Father who forgives my sin, cleanses, purifies, and does not let me go. I am so thankful for Jesus, who gave His life for me. I can’t make anything right – He paid the price to change that. And I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me, and who should indeed be grieved by my behavior (He is). But nevertheless, He still mercifully rebukes and teaches me and seeks to get me moving in His direction… performing HIS work of sanctification in me.

God always gets the last Word in and I’m glad

The day before I would find the roaches, the person whom I’d hurt confronted me. Tired, still musing over what had happened, I got into my car to drive home. I knew I was going to have to go deeper in prayer before my Father, but for now, in His gentleness, he simply allowed me to hear a song that reminded me, that this wasn’t over yet – there was a relationship to be healed and my repentance could not be skin deep.

My car radio connected automatically to my iPhone and the following words ministered to my spirit:

Thank You for the pain of chastening blows,
For the shame when my sin has been exposed,
For the sting of rebuke and for bringing me low,
This gift of discipline that marks me as Your own.

Lyrics from Thank you for the Thorns by Heather Schopf

I guess that kind of says it all. You can click below to hear the song. May it minister to you as it did to me.

About the featured photo: Another one of my early morning visitors politely posing…