Thursday, May 1, 2008

An air purifier

From the time he was very little, our son, J, has always slept with a fan turned on in his room--even in the dead of winter. To tell the truth, I don't remember when it started, but the older he gets the more he struggles with insomnia, which, I'm sorry to say, he inherited from me. I've always said the two worst times of the day for me are going to bed and getting up--without them, I'd be in fine shape. Anyway, J turns on the fan, the sound blocks out the noise without and the noise within, and most of the time he can sleep. Beve and I started using one ourselves a while back, not merely in the summer when we needed to cool down, but also because the incessant ringing in his left ear is drowned out by the noise of the fan. Recently we bought an air purifier, which cleans the air while we sleep. It's pretty slick, alright. Nice enough that we bought one for J, and now his room doesn't have that distinctive boy smell, and that's quite the bonus--trust me!

But the other night we forgot to turn it on and I really noticed it. I was wearing a 24-hour blood pressure monitor, which went off every 20 minutes all night long, with beeps and clicks and bursts of air, and both of us were jolted awake each time it went off. There was no white-out noise to distract us from it. To be honest, I'm not sure anything would have distracted me, but I'm thinking of Beve.

This morning, as I turned off the air purifier, after a good night's sleep, the thought hit me that we need air purifiers in our spiritual lives too. White-out noise that keeps us asleep to the world and awake to Christ. Language, for instance. When I was young, hardly anyone I knew swore. I mean, anyone I knew personally. Not my parents, not my friends. I didn't hear it on TV, movies, read it in books. But foul language has crept into our culture, even our church culture to the point that we don't even notice. Not as we used to. We're inured to how foul it is. I have those words in my head--in my very head!--now and that really gets to me. It's like I've gotten lazy with the idea of 'taking every thought captive to Christ.' This is noise that burrows into us--into me, for sure. One day a year or so ago, I was on the phone with an elder from the church--a truly godly woman--and we were speaking of weighty matters. Kingdom matters. And in the middle of a sentence, perhaps the middle of a word, I said, "Oh crap! My dogs are out. Running down the street." I apologized, but I've thought about that awkward moment since. I didn't use the worst word, but I feel embarrassed that I used the one I did. And the thought of talking about Christ and using an expletive in the same sentence should make me ashamed. A pleasing aroma? Are my words? I don't think so (excuse the ugly, indelicate pun).

What is needed is white-out noise, language that covers this language with Truth. An air-purifier. That's not such a bad aim as a Christian: I want to make the world cleaner by being in it. I want to block the sound of ugliness, by being white-out noise of truth spoken over it. May I--my life--be an air-purifier to those around me, to the world. "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

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