I was out for a run with new shoes. I had done this dozens of times before. I’d even helped to lead a running group with my wife, Charlene. This time, though, something was wrong. My left heel began to hurt. I cut the run short, headed home, and hoped that resting for a few days would help.
It didn’t. It turns out that I’d developed a heel spur, an injury that won’t go away with rest. I blamed the new shoes and began the recovery process.
It turns out that the shoes aren’t to blame. A hidden fault, ignored for too long, built over time and caused pain that won’t soon go away.
The Long Road to Sudden Pain
It was easy to blame the new shoes. I’d never experienced this problem with the old shoes, I thought. It’s always easy to blame the immediate circumstances, even if they really have little to do with the real problem.
The problem, I found out later, is that I have a very high arch. Heel spurs don’t develop overnight, I learned. They develop over years. I didn’t develop a heel spur the day that I noticed the injury. I’d developed that heel spur over decades. I only noticed what had been building, but had always been there.
What other conditions have been building in my body over decades, which have not yet become obvious, I wonder? Even more importantly: what hidden faults are present within my soul which have not yet become noticed, but will one day show themselves and cause incredible pain?
When Sin Conceives
I’ve seen this with others. I’ve known and appreciated them for years. One day their life and ministry implodes. It seems so sudden, and we often go looking for proximate causes. In truth, the implosion wasn’t sudden. It had been building for years. It just became obvious one day.
James explains the process:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
We notice things when they fall apart, when sin is fully grown and causing death. The place to notice things is in the early stages, when we’re tempted and enticed by our over-desires. You can hide things then, but the clock is ticking. The sins and faults you tolerate then will have deadly consequences later.
Failure is never as sudden as it seems. A hidden fault, tolerated over a long period of time, lead to devastating failure. Let’s be killing sin, as John Owen said, before sin kills us, because you know it will.