Our house is an old house. It has its charms and its problems. It has a cement cistern rendering a quarter of the basement useless, but it also has a full size laundry chute that you can access from the first or the second floor. We believe the house was built in the 1930's judging by the date of the newspapers that were used to help caulk around the original tub. The house has all original woodwork and it includes some small built in amenities that were common in that time period. One of those built ins is an all wooden ironing board that folds down out of the wall in our kitchen.
In an effort to help Kim get out of the house for work, I have long ironed her uniforms for work. We have a routine that is fairly worked out. I iron her uniform, make her a sandwich, and send her out the door. Due to the fact that it takes less time for me to get ready to go somewhere like church, I usually do the ironing of the clothes for those occasions also. All this to say that I probably iron articles of clothing about four times a week.
For the first ten years of living in our house, we kept the iron in a small pantry in the kitchen near the fold-down ironing board. After it had cooled down and when it wasn't in use, it had a home on one of the shelves in the pantry. Convenient and close to its accessory, it was a good system. About 5 years ago our iron broke and we got a new one. We ran into a slight problem with the new one. It had a slightly higher base which meant it was too tall to fit on the shelves in the pantry. The iron needed a new home. So for the last five years our iron has sat on top of the refrigerator.
In doing the math on this I come up with about 4 times of ironing a week, times 52 weeks, times 5 years, equals 1,040 opportunities to pull down the ironing board and reach for the iron. Out of the approximately 1,000 opportunities in the last 5 years, do you know how many times I walk into the pantry to grab the iron? Almost every single time. The iron hasn't lived in the pantry for 5 years! It wasn't in the pantry last week and it wasn't there when I reached for it yesterday. Yet this simple fact does not stop me from looking somewhat like an idiot as I reach almost daily for what isn't there. But it is not the last 5 years that conditioned me to act in this way, it was the 10 years prior to this that built in me a habit and a pattern that I may never break.
This past week I had one of those "aha" moments. I found myself willfully sinning again. The same sins I had committed many times before. The same situation and the same circumstances brought my same response. See, like reaching for the iron that isn't there, I find myself habitually sinning in the same way. My wicked heart has set a pattern of rebellion that has conditioned itself to respond to the same circumstances by committing the same sins. In all the years of my struggle with my sin I often look to stop the sinning, yet I need to break the habits of my life that lead to that sin in order to find release and freedom through His grace. In my repentance before God this last week, it was almost as if He said, "Why do you keep reaching for that iron of sin? Stop walking in the same direction every time due to habits that only lead to sin." My senseless reaching for what isn't in the pantry is just like my reaching for what I think I want in the moment, but what I know is just as empty as the spot on the shelf where the iron used to live.
"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"