OUTTAKE: Careful Attention

Apple Tree

“May the word of my lord the king bring me
rest, for the lord the king is like an
angel of God in discerning good and evil.”
2 SAMUEL 14:17 NIV

Careful Attention

“You know, we cleaned this thing inside and out before the trip,” Prissie grumbled. “Look at this mess!”

“Indeed.” Koji joined her in peering under the seats in the Pomeroy family’s fifteen-passenger van.

They were newly returned from a week-long road trip. Prissie’s parents had decided to take advantage of spring break to show Koji around. The aftermath was messy. So at the first opportunity, they’d pulled up to the cinder block building of their town’s self-serve car wash.

“Make way!” Mr. Pomeroy warned, circling around behind the van with a long, black hose. “Zeke and I will layer this thing in foam. It can do its good work while you two deal with the inside.”

“Yes, Daddy.” Prissie shot a warning look at her little brother, who stood beside a panel of flashing, beeping buttons. “Don’t spray us.”

Zeke’s grin was far from reassuring. “Not on purpose!”

Taking plastic bags, Prissie and Koji climbed into the van and picked a row. She was surprised how much stuff was lurking under the seats. Forgotten things that didn’t matter. Dropped things that were no use to anyone. An old french fry. Spilled cereal. A used tissue. Candy bar wrappers. Three pennies. A blue crayon. Empty bottles.

“This would be so much easier if everyone picked up after themselves,” Prissie complained. “You’d think we lived like slobs.”

Koji held up a limp pickle. “I have made surprising discoveries.”

Prissie wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Momma would never stand for this in the house. It’s as if all the boys’ good habits went out the window as soon as we left the driveway.”

Passing two bottles for the recycle pile, Koji recited, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Heb. 2:1).

“Exactly! If they paid attention, we wouldn’t be wading through junk!” Prissie popped up, resting her elbows over the back of the third row of seats. “Only … I doubt that verse is talking about dropping cereal on the floor.”

Koji obligingly picked up where the verse left off. “For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?”

“Which means … always listen to angels,” she surmised.

Koji shook his head. “Angels brought the law to Moses. Their message defined holy living, and all fell short.”

“Like this.” Dumping a crumpled zoo map and several peanut shells into the trash bag, Prissie asked, “So what you’re saying is we’re our van’s great salvation?”

“That is a closer analogy,” Koji agreed.

With the clutter out of the way, Prissie called, “We’re ready to vacuum, Daddy.”

“Sure, sure.” Mr. Pomeroy handed off the fat, black hose with its flexible ridges, then gave a thumbs up to Zeke, who stood ready with more quarters. After a few plinks and the push of a button, the vacuum vroomed to life, and Prissie set to work. Row by row, she and Koji took turns, passing the hose along as they worked their way from one end of the vehicle to the other.

The fruity smell of bubbles. The roar of the sprayer. The whine of the vacuum every time the nozzle stuck against the floor. The rattle of grit and sand as it was carried off, leaving the van fresh and clean.

After it was all done, Koji buckled in next to Prissie for the short drive back to the farm. Letting his shoulder bump hers, he confided, “There is something satisfying about making things new.”

“Isn’t there a verse for that, too?”

Koji smiled approvingly and said, “You were taught … to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Eph. 4:23).

For the rest of the drive home, Prissie pondered the dangers of drifting … and the differences between cleaning insides and outsides.

♦♦♦

Look into these things …

“Even angels long to look into these things.” –1 Peter 1:12

♦ What are the masks and veneer people hide behind? Why can it be hard to simply be yourself?
♦ Is shining up the outside enough? Read 1 Samuel 16:7 and Matthew 23:27. What can’t we hide from God?
♦ Are you glad He knows you so well? Would you rather hide some parts of yourself from Him?

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