Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
- Ephesians 4:27
This week I made a little mistake that became a bigger mistake that could have been a major mistake. And it nearly destroyed two things I hold dear....
My cup of coffee. And my laptop.
During a Monday meeting with LifePath's administrative sherpa, Melanie, I knocked over my coffee, creating a puddle directly on top of my laptop keyboard. It smelled wonderful. But it wasn't a great moment. I ran over to grab some napkins and quickly soaked up what I could. Then I nervously watched for a few moments, expecting the worst. And believe it or not, the laptop continued to work! Crisis averted!
So we pressed on in our meeting. And then 5 minutes later, the coffee reached the motherboard.
And then it all went dark.
First the computer... and then my soul. (Not really, but side note- I am tied to technology far too much).
It kickstarted a very frustrating 2 days, though. Trying to figure out what was wrong, how major the damage was, and where to find a place that could fix it was stressful. And on top of it all, I learned that if I had turned it off right away, there would really not have been any issue beyond needing to let it dry out.
And this, my friends, is our image for this week.
We all have spill moments in our lives that affect us and others. The question isn't really if, but when. We say something that hurts someone, or we feel hurt by someone else. We get upset at our spouse or family member, or we act selfish or foolishly. Unfortunately, this happens, and it's a part of our humanity.
The problem is more than the spill itself. I wasn't trying to be particularly reckless; it was just a mistake. The real issue emerged with how I responded. I let things sit rather than directly addressing the potential impact.
How many times in our life do we ignore little spills that need to be addressed with immediate reconciliation? Little moments when some of the darkness in our hearts emerges, some of our frustrations spill out in unhelpful ways, or some of our habits are revealed that don't reflect the beauty of the life Jesus longs to give us?
It's so easy to breeze past these moments as long as we don't notice any major consequences right away. But often, more work is needed or else the spill seeps under the surface and does real damage, eroding our hearts and undermining our relationships.
When Paul warns the early church to not let the sun go down on their anger, he's reminding them to not let things sit in their spirits that need addressing. They will become deeply rooted in us, and the damage will be great. Whether we've hurt someone or we're upset at another, Jesus is always moving us toward actions of reconciliation and wholeness wherever possible. The way of Jesus teaches us to stop and ensure that things have been made right rather than quickly rush past because we're busy or it's uncomfortable to address. When we ignore spills, seep starts to happen as more and more emotions build up under the surface. And eventually, things will break down badly in our lives because of unaddressed sin or conflict.
It's just little subtle things at first. But relational disconnection, blowups, breakdowns, and bitterness set in when things aren't made right quickly with an attitude of love and gentleness.
The way toward life is simple, but hard: We confess. We ask forgiveness of others. We ask soul searching questions and invite Jesus to identify the root of the issue. And then, we can walk forward in both grace and resolve for the future. It isn't about shame or poor self-worth. God's love for us is not up for debate. But if we don't honestly address these moments as soul-shaping opportunities, we will not grow in the image of Christ.
By the end of the day I was fortunate to be able to find a great laptop mechanic, and the coffee seepage didn't destroy the whole machine (future metaphor: Jesus can fix our internal circuitry). But it did require some new parts because I didn't stop what I was doing and act fast enough. And it was definitely more costly than it needed to be. Next time, right after a spill, I'll be stopping what I'm doing to give it the attention needed. But I'm keeping my coffee a bit further away, just as a precaution.
Jesus, give me grace and courage to make things right, right away.