Friday, January 11, 2008

Advice From An Amoeba

One of the things that we have had to do since moving to Bolivia, and as I write this we are still in the process of doing, is two-fold. First, we have to adjust to various bacterium that our bodies did not get to know until now. We have become intimately acquainted with a number of new travelers visiting our digestive hotels..most of them just...passing through (grooooaaannn).

The adjustment process is pretty simple. You do nothing except what your body tells you to, and if the traveler decides to become a squatter (another groooaaannn), then you call the medical police and they evacuate him (yet another long groan). (I could do this all night, but don't worry, this too shall pass.....)

The other thing that we have had to do is to learn how to protect ourselves. The thing about Amoebas, Parasites, and various other little critters is that they are indeed little. I cannot see them. I certainly had no idea that the scrumpcilicious hamburger that I was eating had lettuce on it that the microscopic bugs hitched a ride upon. I have been here for 8 months, and I have never planned on getting an amoeba, or a parasite, or a bacterial infection. I have had other goals in mind: Fun, goofing off, meeting needs...etc. Another thing is that I usually don't know about the infection or invasion until I begin to experience the consequences. Even then, many times it is not obvious as to what happened, or when.

So, to protect ourselves we have a system. Part of the system deals with our home. We have installed a water filter, and all water--even for brushing our teeth, is first filtered. The filter gets all the bad things out and lets us experience the clean water God intends for us to have. We also wash all of our fruits and vegetables in a chemical like bleach. The bleach cleanses the food so we can eat it. The great thing about this is that it doesn't take long...just a minute or two and we are safe from days/weeks of pain.

The other part of the system is to maintain watch. We don't just grab food out. We are careful about what we let into our system. We go to places that appear clean, and/or that others have told us about. We don't eat cold food when we are out. This is because the food may look and taste good...but if it hasn't been filtered, washed or cooked correctly, it can rumble through your system like an internal volcano. Another thing we try to do is eat off of disposable dishes. Even if we are eating in, sometimes we will ask for the food to go. This is because many kitchens are not truly careful about how they wash and clean their plates.

I was literally sitting down the other day and thinking :) and a little amoeba gave me some great advice. These amoebas, parasites, and bacterium are a great illustration of sin. As believers, we rarely get out of our beds with an intent to sin. It isn't our goal. We had other things in mind. But something happens, and along the way we are tempted and we sin. Many times, we don't even know that we were tempted...or sinned...until the consequences hit us. That person said something rude to me, or started to gossip at the office...and I never FELT the temptation to respond rudely back, or to carry on the gossip. I just did it. Then, when the effects of the sin come full circle and hit me, maybe a long time later, I can't even remember when it happened. I just know that I don't like the consequences. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a parasite of worry. I don't even know that I have it...all I know is that my faith, trust and hope have been eaten away and I am constantly wondering about what if/when....

How do we avoid living an infected Christian life? The amoeba whispered to me. Protect yourself and be on guard. Sounds a lot like watch and pray doesn't it?

We need to filter the thoughts/attitudes of our lives through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Let God cleanse our hearts and minds with the washing of the water of the word. Allow our responses to first flow through Calvary...then speak the words that come out on the other side. This requires us to be in constant communication with Christ.

The next thing the amoeba instructed me to do is to always watch out. Just like learning how to eat in another country, we can learn to identify danger areas (maybe your computer at night?), and avoid them. We can look out for things/people/places that might have a tendency to carry a contagious sin, and at least be on guard for it. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He nudges and teaches us. When we are with our friends that don't know Christ, we can seek to be the bleach that helps cleanse them, or as the Bible says, Salt and Light.

God wants us clean and healthy. Lets pay as much attention to our spiritual vitality as to our physical comfort!