I recently had to rip into some walls in my house.   It was not a cute HGTV inspired remodel for aesthetic enhancement.  My powder room already had all the design elements I had envisioned for the space.  This was an unwelcomed exercise.  It was Messy, inconvenient, expensive and unplanned.  This near-total gut operation of the space was my attempt to avert the potentially disastrous onslaught of a termite infestation.  On reflection, this discovery bears an uncanny parallel to what often takes place in our hearts.

A few days prior to this exercise, I noticed a tiny projection from the surface of a wall.  This I knew from experience was evidence of termites.  According to pestworld.org, “By looking at a single termite, it certainly doesn’t look dangerous or menacing, but a whole colony of them can inflict serious structural damage on a home in a fairly short period of time. Termites are known as “silent destroyers” because of their ability to chew through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected. Each year, termites cause about US$5 billion in property damage.”  This statistic is for the US alone.  I didn’t know this statistic prior to writing this article, but I did know first-hand the damage they can cause having lived through a similar experience only a year prior. I knew I needed to act fast and be aggressive in my pursuit of a remedy to this situation.  

On the Pest Controller’s initial visit, he pierced the walls and spewed his potion but we both knew this would only temporarily abate the spread.  If we were to eradicate the threat, we needed to address the source; so came the cutting into and ripping away of walls.  With the walls cut open, it didn’t take long to identify the source of the infestation – a wooden beam used as substitute to the metal tracks designed to be used in structures of this kind.  The termites had so far had their fill of the piece of wood, leaving only hollow fragments of it in place and had now moved on to the rest of the structure making up the room.  Left unchecked, they would have spread throughout the entire house widening the scale of their damage.  My initial anger at the discovery turned into relief, for now I had uncovered and could destroy the host site before they wreaked further damage.

Friends, we all need support.  We were created for community by a God who exists in community.   We rely on intricate systems of people, habits, beliefs and things to keep us from falling apart.  But just because something or someone functions, doesn’t mean they’re the right fit.  The wooden beam used in the construction of my powder room kept the walls in place but it was ill-suited for use with other materials in the design.   So often we open our lives and create space for people and things that function but are wrong for God’s blueprint for our lives.

I have dated guys who functioned as good listeners, effective communicators, guys who made me laugh and were fluent in my love language, yet were ill-suited to God’s design for my life.  I’ve said goodbye to those relationships but then uncovered a trail of infestation in my heart.  just like treating the termite infestation in my home, the work on restoring my heart is sometimes messy, painful and tear-filled.  As I invited God in and allowed Him to cut away the façade of my well-put-together life, He revealed a colony of not so silent destroyers that had captured my attention and dulled my hearing of His voice.  My heart had become a host site for selfish, fleshly desires and normative beliefs that left unchecked invited an invasion of Satan’s deception. 

Friends, as we heed the call to guard our hearts, I can’t stress enough the importance of paying attention to the ‘little things’ we entertain, the ‘little lies’ we tell ourselves; it’s one trip, nothing happened, we’re just friends.  When I want to lie to myself about the seeming insignificance of a thing, I remind myself that seeds are little things that left in the darkness of soil can grow into towering trees that eventually yield fruit.  I have learned that like the psalmist I need to ask God often to rip open the walls to my heart to uncover little things that may be germinating there.  

Just like termites send their explorers, also referred to as “swarmers”, in search of hospitable habitats such as homes,  there is a very real enemy of our souls whose sole mission is to invade and destroy our lives, often from within. He seeks to pervert truth and have us ignore or dismiss sin as “little things”. According to pestworld.org, these swarmers look very similar to a winged or flying ant, many homeowners often dismiss them as such upon finding them inside their home – a big mistake!  “If swarmers determine your home to be their perfect home, it’s a safe bet the rest of their colony will follow.”  So too it is with our hearts.  The Bible warns us, “give no opportunity to the devil”  If it’s contrary to God’s word then it doesn’t fit God’s design for your life.  I don’t care how cute or comfortable it feels or how well it functions. 

My ripped walls made me think of tattered hearts and failed relationships.  I know now my failed relationships were simply projections from the wall, trails pointing to maladies hidden deep in my heart.  I am glad the termites made their way to the surface and I am oh so grateful for the trail of lost love that led to the rescue of my soul!