Have you listened to the news lately? One of the stories from a few days ago was about the plague of bedbugs in densely populated areas. The news item spoke specifically about New York City, and I began to painfully recall...
A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter Grace and her husband, residents of New York City, began to notice itchy places on her arms and upper back. After several weeks of Grace being awakened in the early morning hours by increasing numbers of itchy spots, she and Jonathan began to do some research on the internet and discovered they had bedbugs. They weren't sure where the bugs had come from, although they had some suspicions. At that point, however, the origin was not the issue. They had to find a way to get rid of them.
They tried smothering them by putting plastic sheets on the mattress and box springs. They tried all kinds of self-helps found on the internet and elsewhere. Finally, though, they acknowledged that their efforts weren't working and they were on the way to going crazy. So they called an exterminator. It was their last hope. Still, there were a number of things they had to do to get ready for the exterminator to come. They had to clean their apartment from top to bottom and get rid of anything that possibly contained the bugs. They ended up throwing out their whole bed, sofa, a chair and many other items. At last, the exterminator could come. They vacated their apartment for three days while the powerful chemicals supposedly did their job. See, that's the thing. There was no guarantee that the bedbugs would not reappear.
Well, they moved back in, got a new bed and a new sofa and waited. After awhile, when they began to see a bug here or there, they immediately killed it. It was a miserable existence, waiting for the proverbial "other shoe" to fall. They wondered what would be good enough to rid them of the bedbugs for good.
There's a spiritual lesson in this. We all have bedbugs (sin) in our lives, and just as bedbug infestation is part of living in densely populated areas, sin is part of living in this world. Sometimes we notice the consequences of sin, but we still don't want to admit that we have sin in our lives. We may say, "I'm a good person, not a 'dirty' person." Yet sin still lies beneath the surface, hidden in places most people don't see: selfish or impure thoughts, etc. When we finally admit we have sin, we want to cast blame. If we get past that point, and many do not, we often believe if we just work on ourselves and try harder, everything will be okay. We buy all kinds of self-help books, read all the internet has to say about our problems, watch talk shows in which self-appointed gurus give possibly well-meaning advice. We may even succeed in 'cleaning up' some aspects of our lives. But underneath, hidden in the deeper places, causing us issues in our work, in our relationships, in our health, sin still lurks. And because of that sin, we are on our way to hell.
We need a Savior. Not just any Savior. We need Jesus. The wonderful news is that Jesus' blood works better than any exterminator's chemicals ever could. His blood cancels sin. Period. If we acknowledge our sin and ask Him to come in, He lives in us and as sin reappears, He is there to remove it. Psalm 103:12 says, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west."
Grace and Jonathan were very happy that their bedbugs did not return in full force. But their happiness cannot compare to the glorious joy we can have in knowing our sins are forgiven - eradicated, exterminated - and we're on our way to heaven.