Every day on my lunch break I take a walk. I find it’s good to interrupt my otherwise sedentary desk job with a little blood circulation and fresh air. There is a strip mall just down the road from my company so I usually walk to it and go around the back of the plaza before looping around front and back up the street to resume work.
A couple of weeks ago as I was walking around the back of these buildings I saw that someone had thrown a mattress out behind one of the stores. It appeared to be clean and fresh – it looked brand new! On that particular day, it was warm and sunny with an ever so slight breeze. As I walked by the mattress, it looked so enticing. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to just lie on a comfy mattress and watch the clouds drift by as the sun warmed my face in the cool breeze? It seemed like the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather and rest and relax. Of course not knowing where the mattress came from, I didn’t entertain the thought for long.
Day by day, as my walk took me by this mattress, I began to notice changes. After just a day it started collecting stray dirt kicked up by the wind, and falling leaves from a nearby maple tree. Within a few days, the corners started darkening slightly. After a day of rain, I noticed it had lingering water stains after everything around it had dried. It wasn’t long before the wet, dirty mattress became a breeding ground for all kinds of critters. The edges of the once bright mattress became black with mold and fungus. At some point, an animal evidently ripped a hole in the center and made off with some of the stuffing, the remainders of which lay strewn about the ground beside it. The once enticing mattress quickly fell into a state of filth and decay.
As I walked by this mattress for perhaps the dozenth time, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “This is what neglect will do”. You see, the mattress hadn’t done anything “wrong”; it simply sat there as mattresses have a tendency to do. In terms of time, it was still new; only a couple of weeks had passed. But in terms of quality, it was far from what we would describe as “new”. Indeed it now presents itself as used and worn out. Worse than that, it is soiled and repulsive. The problem is that it was neglected and left unprotected in the elements. On that first day, the elements had been friendly and inviting and did not seem to pose a threat to its integrity, but in short-order they destroyed the defenseless mattress. Had the mattress remained inside where it would have been shielded from the wind, dirt, rain, and critters, it likely would have lasted for years. Without protection, it lasted only days.
In that moment the Lord reminded me that it is imperative that I remain under the umbrella of His protection. It might be tempting to go out into the world to find some kind of relaxation, but it is an illusion. What looks inviting at first glance can quickly destroy us if we don’t have the proper guards in place. We must guard our hearts and minds. We must take heed where we go and what we leave exposed to the elements. The Bible asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? So let us strive not to neglect the things of the Lord. Let us hold them precious and protect them. As we embrace the teachings and safeguards that the Lord has put in place to protect us, He is providing us with shelter and demonstrating His unfailing love.
In His Love,