Desensitized and Unaware

A few days ago Anita asked me if I noticed an ammonia smell in the laundry room. I told her I hadn’t, but that with my cold I really can’t smell much of anything. So we let it slide. She mentioned it again the next day and my response was the same. I did mention that I had used some ammonia for some cleaning a few days prior so she figured the smell must be from the rags I used and probably not yet washed. Well, this morning she again mentioned this ammonia smell and my response was exactly the same. Not only am I congested and can’t smell anything, our house has historically had all sorts of smells that sort of run together, creating a constant strange scent. So even if I didn’t have a cold, I seriously doubt I would have noticed the smell. Turns out, the jug of ammonia I used the other day apparently had a tiny crack in it and, sure enough, probably a quart or so of it had leaked out onto the storage cart and eventually on the floor.

How in the world can someone not immediately notice the strong smell of ammonia and fix the problem before it gets so bad? It’s actually fairly simple. First of all, the drip was small and slow. Had the jug emptied all at once it would have been very noticeable, but the tiny leak only gave a whiff of something wrong, and a whiff is fairly easy to explain away. Secondly, as I mentioned, we’ve become rather desensitized to all the smells in our house … boys, animals, fireplace, dirty clothes, food, etc. It’s just too hard to explore the reason for every smell so you just sort of accept it and move along in spite of it. And thirdly, I really do have the issue of sickness and major congestion to contend with. It hinders me from being aware of the various smells around me, both good scents and bad odors.

It hit me that this is very much a description of my life! I find myself going through a world full of good and bad to which I’ve become desensitized. I have a hard time noticing the nasty sin in my life - which often starts as just a tiny “drip” of a problem. And though I know sin is present, everything just sort of runs together and it’s too hard to explore the reason behind the sins. And, of course, the indwelling sin problem of my heart is a major issue that literally prevents me from even noticing certain sins. But it’s not only my sin I fail to notice … I fail to notice what God is doing … I fail to notice the majesty of God’s grace in life situations … I fail to observe the beauty of the image of God in others … I fail to see His good providence in everyday affairs … I fail to rejoice in the love He extends to me throughout each and every day.

Yep, my heart is hardened and unable to “smell” anything. Jeremiah 17:9 nails it - “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” So the hope of the Gospel is NOT that we’ll just make our hearts better, but rather that the Lord actually gives us new hearts, living hearts, hearts that CAN be aware and sensitive to the world around us. Ezekiel says it well in 36:26 - “I will give you a new heart, and new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” The theme of Christianity is never “let’s just do better” but rather “death and resurrection”, the old is gone and the new has come. So today let’s behold the One, Jesus, to whom we’re united to by faith. Let’s set our gaze on Him who lived the life we should have lived, who died the death we should have died, and who rose from the dead to secure for us new life!