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About a month ago, our house was swarmed by termites. That swarm lasted three weeks and it was not a pleasant experience. In fact, I hope you never have to go through that type of experience!
One afternoon, all of sudden, all these bugs that looked like ants with wings starting coming in the kitchen. We could not find where they were coming in, but within about 1/2 hour, there were so many of them that the floor was black with them and you could hardly see the white of the floor under all those crawling bodies. Most of the termites had their wings fall off shortly after the came in the room and then they crawled around like ants for about 6 hours before dieing. Then the floor was littered with little ant-like corpses, and the wings looked like a bunch of pieces of rice on the floor.
As soon as I found them, I got the yellow pages out and began calling termite companies. To my dismay, most of them were unsympathetic to my emergency and could not send an inspector out for at least a week. Apparently it was "termite season" and we were not the only people experiencing a swarm.
It was so gross that I would not even go in the kitchen with my shoes on. I finally mustered up the courage to vacuum these things up, which was a very gross experience. I thought that I had reclaimed my kitchen. But the next afternoon, they were back again. There were not quite as many of them, but there were still at least 400 or 500 of those little pests and they were all over the kitchen again. The third day, we got another swarm, not as dense, but still at least 300 of these little pests. They would come up, fly around a little, drop their wings, crawl around like ants and die in about 6 hours.
By this time, I had talked to every termite company in the phonebook, trying to get them to come out and fix this problem. They all had so many appointments that it would be a week before the person who does their estimates would come out. But they did talk to me a bit over the phone about the problem. They assured me that termites do not bite and do not carry disease and really can't hurt you at all. But it was still so gross and disgusting. At first I had been told they only swarm once a year, but when I was experiencing these daily swarms, they told me I had a more serious infestation, which is rather unusual. And they said the termites would probably continue to swarm daily until they were exterminated.
It was so gross and disgusting, but I adapted. I learned to put on shoes before entering the kitchen. (We are not Asians, but we usually take our shoes off when we enter the house, just like the Asians do.) I also gave up on cleaning up the mess of little rice-like wings and ant-like corpses. It did not seem to be worth the effort to clean them up because within about 12 hours there would be another huge swarm of these things. I started to avoid the kitchen as much as possible because it was so disgusting. As I said, I hope it is an experience that you will never have to go through!
The only one who did not seem to mind the termites was one of our two dogs, who thought they made a nice toy. He would select a termite from the swarm that still had it's wings and chase it around the kitchen, then catch it and eat it .. trampling dozens of other termites in the process.
The estimates finally came from three different terminate companies within a few days of each other. The good news was that we had subterranean termites, so they would not have to tent the house and we would not have to evacuate it, they would apply poison underground. The bad news was that this would cost over two thousand dollars and we would have to wait at least two weeks before they could come to our house because they were so busy this time of year. In the interim, I would have to continue to live with the daily swarm.
It continued to be gross and disgusting and I totally gave up on cleaning the house. But I sort of got used to it, it did not seem nearly as bad as it had seemed at first, but I still hated it. I was looking forward to the day when the exterminators came, but I figured I would survive those additional two weeks that I had to wait.
When the exterminators finally did come, they told me that the poison they used would not kill the termites immediately. They put the poison where the termites were likely to crawl, and they the termites would take it back to their nest, sort of like ant bait. It effects their digestive system so they sort of starve to death. I was told it would take about two to four weeks for the termite colonies to die. And when they realized that they were getting sick, I would probably see another swarm or two (probably bigger than the earlier swarms) as the termites tried to flee for their lives.
I am glad that Christian charity/love is not something that we are expected to extend to insects, because I did not feel any charity or sympathy towards these pests. While the termite people were downstairs putting the poison in the ground, I was upstairs saying, "Die, you little buggers, die!" (And I don't think that was a sin!)
Now, a few days before the exterminators came, my husband had noticed that our yard was overgrown with weeds. We live up in the hills where there is a lot of natural landscape, so we tend to get a lot of weeds. So he had sprayed the yard with weed killer. At first when he sprayed the weeds, nothing happened. But about four or five days afterwards, the weeds began to shrivel up and die.
So I asked hubby how the week killer works. He said that it causes the roots to die, and then the weed can't get the water and nutrients it needs from the soil, so it basically starves to death.
Gee, the weed killer and the termite poison both worked on the same principle -- they effect their target by causing it to starve to death.
And as I thought about it, I realized that the same principle applies to the spiritual pests in our lives. You know what I mean... those wrong attitudes, those repeated and besetting sins, those hurts from the past that effect our ability to function effectively today. Yes, the principle is the same: when we feed them, they flourish; but when we starve them, they die. They don't die quickly, it takes quite a while for them to die. And just like the termites, they don't go quietly; they fight for their life. They make a last swarm to tempt us to give them some more fuel to keep them alive.
How do we starve a pest-like sin or wrong attitude in our lives? We do that by "feeding" it the things that kill it, that are poisonous to it... the things that keep it from drawing life and substance from our lives. Those sin poisons are things like worship, the word of God, prayer, godly Christian fellowship, etc. At the same time that we poison sin with the things of God, we also stop trying to feel it the things of the flesh.
For example, lets take the case of a past hurt, where someone really wronged us and we became bitter and unforgiving towards that person. We starve it by refusing to mentally review how they hurt us, to stop dwelling on things we might have done different when we were in that situation, to stop replaying the offense in our mind. Instead, we focus our attention on God and His goodness, on things He has done for us, on what His nature is like, on how much He loves us, etc.
Or maybe our pest is a temptation to a recurring sin. Of course, we always present the sin to the Lord, repent from it and ask Him to help us stop doing it. But did you know that we can work proactively with the Lord in that process? We can help Him poison that sin. We can choose to stop putting the things into ourselves that feed this sin and strengthen it. For example, if the sin is in the area of lusts, we can stay away from books and movies and magazines that are designed to feed those lusts. Instead we put our time and attention on God... we read His word, we pray, we worship, we fellowship with other believers. These things tend to poison the sin-pest, they are death (not life) to it. But they are life to our souls.
Also, we can use the word of God like a can of Raid to spray in trouble spots as they come to the surface. If our problem is the area of fear or anxiety, we can write down or memorize several verses that deal with that topic. When anxiety raises it's head, we give it Philippians 4:6-7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Or give it 2 Kings 6:16, "Do not fear, for those who are with us [God's angels] are more than those who are with them." Or you can poison it with Psalm 56:4, "In God I have put my trust; I will not fear." And there is always Isaiah 35:4, "Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.'" Or you can pull out the big guns with Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Those verses will being hope and life to you, but they will bring death to anxiety and fear.
I think of it in these terms: The things that you put your attention on become bigger in your mind and things that you don't mentally dwell on become smaller in your mind. If you dwell on the problems or on the devil or on sin, then that becomes bigger and more powerful in your life. But if you dwell on God and His majesty, then He becomes bigger and stronger in your life, and the problems and the devil and the sin become smaller and weaker and less able to negatively effect you.
The way to kill the sin or the bad attitude or the past hurt is to cut it off at the roots, to stave it to death and to feed yourself with the things of God that weaken this thing's hold over you. That is how we need to deal with most of the pests in our life.