All of us have seen cement mixers traveling on the road. As they motor along, their circular drums churn the mixtures within to keep them from hardening and becoming useless.
A friend of mine who once worked for a concrete company shared one of his memorable experiences with me. The firm he worked for often hired men as day laborers to drive their trucks. The arrangement usually worked well, benefiting both the drivers and the company.
On one occasion, however, a driver was on his way to deliver concrete when his truck broke down. In the age before cell phones, he simply climbed out of the cab and took off on foot leaving the concrete to harden in the mixer. By the time they found the truck, its cargo was rock solid and their truck was now an enormous paperweight.
Because my friend was newer than other employees, he was appointed the task of climbing inside that metal drum with a jackhammer to chisel out the negligence one fragment at a time. This was before hearing protection was valued so we can imagine how his ears rang after a day inside that echo chamber.
While my heart goes out to my friend, this incident has broader lessons. How often have we encountered a difficult problem and simply fled the scene? Instead of hanging around to attempt a repair or solicit help, we just left.
Sadly, when we do so, the problem usually gets worse. Like the cement in the mixer, what once was a manageable headache becomes a solidified obstacle requiring great time, effort, and pain to remove.
When we attempt to escape our problems by running away, inevitably they become more challenging for whoever must come behind and solve them. We all make mistakes and face difficulties. This is sometimes due to our own actions and sometimes because we live in a fallen universe.
Regardless of the cause, however, we shouldn’t make them worse by fleeing, leaving someone else with the horrible chore of cleaning up our messes. One sign of maturity is to take responsibility for whatever problems we create rather than taking the easy way out.
Many times we encounter breakdowns in our relationships. When we refuse to do the tough and uncomfortable work of attempting to resolve those conflicts according Jesus’ guidance in Matthew 18, they gradually solidify to a point where they are nearly impossible to remove.
Perhaps you’ve got one or several cement mixers sitting beside your life’s road with hardened concrete inside. Christian friends, pastors, and counselors can help us chisel away the solidified issues. Even better, God’s Holy Spirit is powerful enough to dissolve even the hardest problems if we allow Him to do so.
The next time we see a cement mixer rolling along, let’s be reminded not to leave our problems to harden for someone else to fix. And let’s seek whatever help might be available to prevent them from becoming worse.
George Bowers – CBC Executive Board member