The accumulation of a little bit of silt is all it takes to hinder or even halt traffic moving along a river. It can build up like a dam and restrict the flow of the water to the point where it starts to fill up and form a lake. While the effect is most noticeable in large waterways like the Mississippi River, even a small creek can also be impacted proportionately.
Yes, something smaller than the head of a pin can create highly significant problems in waterways, ranging from the mightiest bodies of water to storm drains in a city. The situation typically begins with runoff from a neighboring shoreline. As the water flows over the embankment, some of the soil goes along with it. Erosion is another means of introducing sand into the edges of the waterway.
Through the movement of the water, accumulated sediment from earlier drainage shifts slowly downstream. Over time, this sediment reaches a place where it is hindered—often by itself—and it settles down. Then more silt continues to be deposited on top of the previous layer. At this point, the impeding of progress of vessels along the waterway starts to occur since the channel has become much shallower. Eventually it will reach the point where only the lightest of boats and small debris are still able to pass through.
In a similar manner, God’s blessings in the life of His children can also be restricted or blocked. The difference is that, instead of silt, it is sin that does the work. When we entertain even the tiniest amount of sin in our lives, we begin to impede our relationship with God—like the river that becomes blocked and impassable due to the buildup of sediment.
Equally important is the fact that when we live with sin in our heart, we no longer put Him first. Our desire is divided between what is of God and what is contrary to Him and His way.
We often think of sin as being as insignificant as a grain of sand, too tiny to matter or for anyone to care. Yet when sin is not taken care of, it will accumulate to the point where it is capable of overtaking the heart and life of the one who allowed it. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). If we continue in sin, not only will our relationship and fellowship with God and His Son be choked off and die, but we will also die physically and be lost eternally.
Once we have accepted Jesus into our heart and yielded our life over to Him, God expects us to flee from sin and not consent to it anymore. But, due to our inherent inclination to sin, He knows that we will disobey Him from time to time. The problem comes when we do not repent and seek forgiveness from Him for our wrongdoing. When we commit or allow even one sin, it won’t be long before another, and then another, comes along. Soon, like silt accumulating in the waterway, our lifeline with God becomes clogged, blocking our ability to have fellowship with Him.
Even with all of today’s technology and modern forms of transportation, such as trucks, automobiles and airplanes, we still depend heavily on waterways for transporting people and goods. We have come to expect them to be free-flowing, but when a hindrance or impasse does occur, removing it can be very expensive and may negatively impact many people. This resembles the buildup of sin in our life. Like a mighty river, we may appear fine on the surface, but deep down, we are becoming more and more shallow.
We have developed means to dredge the waterways and remove the impediments today. But only God can clear our heart of sin. The first step on our part is to stop each disobedient act, and turn around completely in the other direction. We should then ask Him to reveal to us, through His Spirit, places in our heart where we have accumulated sin that we have forgotten about or are unaware of. Heed the words of the psalmist who said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24). Then we need to turn it over to God, and leave it there.