We Need Firefighters and Electricians

March 1, 2023 | Matt Angell

It was about 8:45pm on a weeknight. The air outside was unsettled, the wind was howling and the rain was coming down intensely. Jake, then age 9, had just climbed into bed. Abby was four, and I was in her room preparing her for bed. We were in the midst of an animated and inspired reading of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish when the night air lit up like it was mid-day. There was no delay between the light and the CRACK, louder than anything I have ever heard. The lighting strike was close, real close.

Abby and I ran downstairs to the living room, where Tory and our oldest son, Zach were as shaken as we were. It took us a few moments to realize that Jake was missing. We ran back upstairs, finding him still lying in bed, eyes as big as saucers. We later discovered that the lightning had struck a flood light on the corner of our house, about eight feet from where Jake was sleeping. We were all unharmed but certainly rattled. We started searching the house for any damage. It was Abby who discovered the burn marks. They extended from the light switch next to the front door up towards the ceiling. Our relief now turned to concern. Was there fire inside of our walls? 

Our first call was to the fire department who promptly sent a fire truck with a half dozen firefighters to our house. They came with the necessary tools and resources to see what was happening on the inside of our walls based on the evidence on the outside. Fortunately, we were given the great news that our house was not on fire. The next day we called our insurance agent and an electrician as we quickly discovered that we were ill equipped to identify all of the electrical issues now present in the house. 

There were issues going on inside of our walls to which we could see the evidence, yet we needed people in the community who had more experience and wisdom to help us discover and resolve them. 

Here is why I am sharing this story. This past Sunday Monty spoke on Ephesians 4:25-29, which has gotten me thinking a lot about the damaging behaviors we may struggle with in verses 26-29. Each one of those things, sinful anger, stealing, and corrupting talk, are on their own problematic. However, they are also outward evidence of an inward problem. Someone may say, “I have an anger problem” without discovering what the root cause is. If you work on the anger without addressing the root, it will undoubtedly remain an issue. Imagine if I said, “I have a burn mark issue on my walls” and only painted over them. The evidence might be covered, but the electrical problems, hidden on the inside would still exist. 

The trouble with the causes behind the behavior is they are not easily identifiable. I suppose if they were we would all deal with them on our own and the behavior would stop. However, just as we had members of our community who could help us identify and work through the hidden issues in the walls of our house, God gives us community to help us identify and work through the hidden issues in the walls of our heart. Verse 25 of Sunday’s passage says “let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” It is obvious that we need to speak truth to our neighbors. What is less obvious is that sometimes we are the neighbor who needs to hear the truth. 

I want to encourage all of us to consider any negative or damaging behaviors in our own lives. Do not dismiss them or paint over them hoping they disappear. Instead, expose them to the light (Eph. 5:11) allowing trusted community to share their experience and wisdom in helping to resolve what is hidden. This may come from friends and family, or may require the expertise that comes from a pastor or counselor. These are our firefighters and electricians. We “are members of one another” and therefore need this community of faith as we “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:1-2).