It had served other purposes as well. After we moved onto the property, the power company sent a crew to plant the poles and string the wires that would connect us to the outside world. One of the young men looked around and said, “I know this place. I went to school with one of the boys and we’d come back here to hunt rat----.” Instantly he stopped and muttered, “Well—you don’t need to know that.” But within a week we knew exactly what he had started to say as the evidence began to pile up. That first summer we killed four rattlesnakes, the smallest of which was four feet long, two cottonmouths, and several coral snakes.
The snake population has dwindled after all these years, and the only volunteer melons come up in the garden now. But there is still more evidence of the property’s past.
When we moved here, our closest neighbor advised us to have the wind row scraped into a raised road so we would always have access, even in wet weather, very good advice as it turned out. What the tractor left behind was a high, compact, dirt driveway, but it was littered with broken glass. Someone had tossed quite a few beer bottles into the wind row--those boys were obviously doing more than hunting rattlesnakes on the back forty all those years ago. That first summer we gave our boys, who were then 6 and 8, a nickel for every piece of glass they picked up, and it was soon safe to drive and walk on.
Yet now, twenty-seven years later, as I walk down the drive with the morning sun shining on the sandy road, I still see it glinting off tiny pieces of glass. The sand they have been buried in has worn off their sharp edges making them far too smooth to endanger either tires or bare feet. I usually pick up a couple dozen every summer. Then the next year, yet more will have worked their way to the top from the simple erosion of wind and rain.
What is hidden beneath will always come out. No matter how hard you try to hide the ugliness, something will always give it away. “By their fruits you shall know them,” Jesus said, and, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks,” Matt 7:20; Luke 6:45. When we try to hide our character flaws from others, the only person we really manage to hide them from is ourselves.
God will help you overcome the weaknesses that beset you, but he cannot do it until you admit them to yourself, and then to him. Blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming “the way I am” will never fix things, any more than me blaming those teenage boys for throwing their beer bottles got rid of the glass in my driveway. But God can help you mend your heart and correct your ways. He promises he will always supply a way of escape and strength to endure the times of stress and the simple erosion of life that make those ugly things rise to the surface.
Every year I see those sparkly pieces of glass in the driveway, but their edges have worn smooth and they are no longer a danger. God can help the same way. You may feel something inside begin to rise to the surface, but with his help you can keep it under control so that it no longer hurts you or others. In your surrender to him, the strength you have will multiply beyond anything you have ever experienced, or could ever have imagined.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. I John 4:4.