When the Dust Stirs


Moving to another country affects people in different ways. For a person from the southwestern United States, spicy West African food may hit the spot, while a person from the northeast has to adjust to the heat of Arab Gulf States. The reserved cultures of some Asian nations may require new skills in self-control for a person who is used to howdies, hugs, and handshakes.

We don’t have sandstorms in Tennessee.

I first experienced them in Ivory Coast, West Africa. Though below the Sahara belt of countries, Ivory Coast and neighboring countries get the joy of annual sandstorms as the winds share the contents of their northern cousins. When I moved to the Middle East and North Africa, I neared the epicenter of the sandy sources and faced many a dusty day.

The first rule of thumb: Close your windows.

We had just arrived in Tunisia, traveling almost twenty-four hours with two young children. Upon arrival in the capital, where we would be living, we were met by colleagues who proceeded to tell us we were heading south with them for a few days. Another five hours later, we arrived at our temporary location and crashed. Our bags spread over the house, we walked the short distance to our colleagues for dinner, not realizing that a sandstorm would shortly arrive. We returned home to find our bags, clothes, and the entire house covered with sand—We didn’t close the windows.

Once it gets in, sand stays.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much you clean; sand and dust find their way into the tiniest of crevices. You wipe, you wash, you sweep and mop, but the grit remains. Living in sandy lands requires constant cleaning. I remember that was one of the best things I was looking forward to on my return to Tennessee—I wouldn’t have to dust and mop as much!

Even with my lack of affection for sand and her storms, I have learned from my experience with this aspect of nature.

Sin is a lot like a sandstorm.

We are deceived into thinking we can walk away clean after a brief fling with the dark side. We let down our guard and allow Satan to have his way, but when the guilt or trouble comes, we think that by pulling the episode to a close we can avoid any further repercussions. Just like the sand, the thoughts, desires, and temptations that led to the sin in the first place have snuck and stuck into the crevices of our minds and hearts.

Trying to do better on our own never works.

We can’t “work” our way out of the sin trap. It’s going to take more than a clean house to remove the grit sin leaves on the heart.

The best remedy to sin is the Power Wash of the Holy Spirit.

When we lay it all out there in confession to Christ, that opens the crevices of our hearts to the Spirit’s cleansing power. When the Spirit washes, we are clean indeed.

Going forward with the Spirit requires us to close the windows of our hearts to sin.

Just like we didn’t realize a storm was coming and were thus caught off guard, so do we naively think when we’re in good shape with the Lord that Satan won’t have his way. He may not have his way, but he’s definitely going to try to, by stirring up the dust of temptation and trials. Constant vigilance is required to stand your ground. Keep the house of your heart secure by staying in God’s Word and connecting to him in prayer.

Do I miss the sandstorms of life overseas? No. Am I grateful for the lessons they taught me? Absolutely.

What does life teach you about God, faith, and service? May you find glimpses of eternal truths through the daily circumstances of your world today and share them with others—to his glory.

Grace and Peace

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