Sermon Illustrations

Pressure Washing

The wooden fence around our yard was black from mildew in parts, but it was mostly sun bleached gray. The grime was heaviest around the sprinkler heads where Florida humidity turns the porous wood into a mildew factory. I had grown accustomed to the funk and had gotten so used to its presence that it didn’t bother me anymore. In fact, my fence looked just like everybody else’s in the neighborhood. They are all about the same age and have had the same exposure, with the exception of a few newer homes that have been built. My privacy fence was awful and I was ok with it.

Enter my next door neighbor. Ed decides to do something radical. He didn’t ask me or anything. He just decided that he wanted to pressure wash his fence. As one of the few folks who moved north to be here, he came from south Florida about a year ago and seems to have fresh eyes for our neighborhood and town. He hated the grimy fence and decided to do something about it. Over a three day period he pressure washed all that grime off the wooden planks that separate us as neighbors. The boards looked brand spanking new… on his side.

My side looked even worse in comparison. I was convicted. It wasn’t so much a “keeping up with the Jones’s” thing (Their name is Weiss, after all). Rather, I was convicted by my years of apathy and inaction. Why had I neglected this part of my yard? I take such great pains to keep my flower beds weeded and shrubbery trimmed; yet I had let this large and visible component of my home go completely unattended for the eight years I have lived here.

Humbly, I knocked on Ed’s door and asked to borrow his pressure washer. He agreed and now my fence looks as good as new, too. In three days, I have pressure washed my fence, the soffit, a couple of palm trees, the concrete around the pool slide, the old pool box, and some of the brick on the north side of the house. I’m in love with pressure washing, now. I think I’m a pressure washing addict and wonder if I should begin to seek treatment!

In all seriousness, I am learning some important life lessons. Some of our most disgusting parts of ourselves we have already taken for granted. We get so accustomed to them that we don’t even try to change until someone new in our lives brings attention to it. When we witness the power of change in another, it gives us hope that we, too, are not beyond hope. With the right tools we can make changes that can restore our lives. Sometimes folks cover up their problems, but with pressure washing, we can actually remove the grime in our lives. We can clean up our lives for the better, but it might take some pressure!

Today, I’m joining King David in his prayer, “create in me a clean heart, O’ God” (Psalm 51:10). It might take some positive peer pressure and it might be a messy job, but I can clean up some of the grime in my life that has been growing for years. Through neighbors like Ed, I have restored my hope that things don’t have to continue to get worse. I am hopeful for our country, our state, and community. Old problems can be washed away, but it will take some work. Addictions can be broken. Marriages can be salvaged. Financial peace can be built. Obesity can be reversed. Depression can be beaten. With the right tools and the right people with the right vision, we can all be as good as new!

Love one. Love another.


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