Cleaning Out Gutters

It’s amazing how much debris can accumulate in a gutter over fifteen years.  Until the first Saturday in April, I don’t think we had cleaned out our gutters since they were installed.  The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated most of us spend more time at home, so I’m catching up on some overdue maintenance.

Confinement of any type is seldom viewed as a blessing, but we’re fortunate if we have that option.  There are masses of people who would love to stay home but can’t.

First-responders are working long hours in conditions more hazardous than anyone could have imagined.  Healthcare providers are worn to a frazzle as they risk their own lives to help save others.

Grocery store workers are wiping down carts and stocking shelves.  They were rarely thought of as heroes in the past.  Today, however, I’d like to hug every one of them.

Druggists are still dispensing medicine.  Restaurant employees are cooking take-out orders.  Truckers are delivering goods to warehouses which people in vans bring to our porches.  And the folks at the post office know the mail must go through.

People in factories are wearing masks while making things we need.  Many are nervous about going in, yet thankful to be on payroll.  Coronavirus is fatal to jobs but not bills.  Payments come due every month and essentials are quickly depleted.

I’ve only touched the surface of professions which are severely affected by COVID-19.  My point is that those of us who can stay home in relative comfort and safety have a lot to be thankful for.  I’m sure you already know that, but it takes a lot of reminding for me.

Jane was pruning shrubbery in our back yard when she noticed a weed with a yellow flower growing in our gutter.  Despite its colorful bloom, I knew it shouldn’t be there.  So, I got a ladder and pulled it out.

I was surprised to find that weed had a lot of company.  A row of green unwanted guests was thriving in a mixture of leaves and sand-like particles that had washed down from our shingles.

The debris was several inches deep and tightly packed by time and moisture.  I had to loosen it with a trowel before using a big shop vacuum to suck it out.  And I did something foolish.  I ignored some advice that I had included in a small book titled Lessons From The Ladder.

There’s a sticker on many ladders which warns, “DO NOT STAND ABOVE THIS STEP,” but I climbed a rung higher.  It turned out okay, but it was a poor choice.  All I had to do was borrow a longer ladder from my neighbor, Ken, or get one from the farm on Monday.  But the gutter needed cleaning and I didn’t want to wait, for I had already waited too long.

I hope by the time this is published COVID-19 will be on the downslope.  Meanwhile I’ll spend some time taking care of a few things I’ve neglected, like cleaning out the gutters.

It’s also a good opportunity to clean out my spiritual gutters.  They tend to fill gradually with bits of sediment.  They look about the same from ground level, revealing nothing that demands urgent attention.  At some point, however, the weeds take hold and the roots grow deeper.  And we venture precariously near the top of the ladder trying to treat the symptoms rather than the cause.

Spiritual gutters need thorough cleansings.  “Nothing but the Blood,” a hymn written in the 1800s, succinctly tells us how.  “What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

When a rain gutter is filled with debris, it doesn’t function like it’s supposed to.  And when a spiritual gutter is cluttered with sin, it doesn’t work like God intended.  There’s a cost that comes with neglect, and a joy that comes with a clean fresh start.  There will never be a better time for a new beginning than right now.

As hymnist Robert Lowry so aptly put it, “Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow.  No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

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8 Responses to Cleaning Out Gutters

  1. Michael Chason says:

    Well said. Love those classic hymns. Jesus Paid It All.

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  2. Ellen Hunsucker says:

    Beautiful analogy!

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  3. robert tripp says:

    True! Do you remember Joey Toole? He was my roomate in Brown Hall my first year. He died of cancer last week. Hope you and Jane are well and blessed.Enjoy your columns Neil!

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  4. Cynthia Couch says:

    I have enjoyed your lessons from the ladder. So many spiritual applications can be applied to our lives. I just need to be aware and intentionally look for them. God bless!

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  5. Marlene (Peavy) Hiland says:

    Love this article! Absolute truth, I know I have to remind myself at times just how blessed I am and that none of the blessings are of happen chance but on my knees in constant prayers. Love the old hymns and nothing like a little singing on the riding mower where no one can hear the off pitch, but my Savior is interceding on my behalf to our God Almighty! We all need to be praying for everyone and especially the ones you have mentioned as they are the warriors on the front lines!

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  6. Jeannette PARKER says:

    This was a great article. Very accurate.

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  7. George says:

    Neal, there is a good lesson in there and you presented it very well. You would probably make a very good Sunday School Teacher.

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  8. Susan Montgomery says:

    Always enjoy reading your work. 😊

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