Like a water feature, we need a cleanout of  the sludge and muck that settles in.  But the first step is to invite the expert.

©Joy Dunlap

Under the surface of our beautiful water feature, debris can pile up causing decay.  In order to keep it running optimally, an annual cleanout is needed.

During the fall, countless leaves find their way in. They discolor the water, interrupt the water flow, and clog the system.  And, when those decaying leaves settle in the bottom, they become sludge that can upset the balance in the pond and create an unhealthy environment. When we have goldfish that buildup can endanger those in our care by depleting oxygen or introducing toxins.

Muck is yucky.  And, it impedes the quality of the water and its flow.

Despite our best efforts to consistently scoop out the debris that lands, a lot take up residence – and we need help to clean it out.

Thankfully an expert comes for the cleanout! And, I’m grateful!

A team leader, along with a couple of others, empties the pond of all the yucky stuff – the stuff that shouldn’t be there if the water is to be clear and flow well.  First, they drain the pond, pressure wash the rocks and waterfall ledges, and then get inside where they pull out handfuls of mud and muck.

Troublesome roots that have dug their way in to siphon away the water are removed.  Once attractive leaves now turned to muck and embedded amidst the stones are dug out.

It’s a messy job – and one I couldn’t do well or completely even if I wanted to.

As they reach down and dig it out handful by handful to remove it, they end up with sludge on them. The expert, who I know, has the insight and experience on the right way to wash the stones to keep the beautiful green moss on the exterior while getting rid of the yucky stuff.

After the pond is purged of what is causing the rot, the cleaner refills it with fresh water.  Then, it’s so clear you can see all the way to the foundation.

As the experts came to do that this week, I watched and thought…

That’s what God does with our lives. 

We can never be good enough, smart enough or committed enough to scoop out all the decay and mess in our lives.  But thankfully we have a Savior who can remove it. 

Sometimes He pressure washes it – and we feel it.

Other times He power washes it and we are in awe when we see it.

At times, He digs around and pulls out stuff that’s been hiding beneath the surface among the rocks.    And, those roots that threaten to divert the free flowing, beautiful water away from us?  He cuts them back behind His protective barrier and increases the purity of the water flow to our hearts and minds.

But we have to invite Him to do it. 

The pond experts didn’t just show up at our house to do the cleanout. We invited them to come, and we keep inviting them back.  Because the leaves still fall and decay in our pond and create an environment for problems.

And, yes, we still let unhealthy things settle in our lives.  

Like the leaves…

They fall in.  They float in.  They get blown in by force.

Sometimes we even make it easy for them too.

People often ask why we don’t net the pond since several trees are near it.  We have used a net before.  But the look of it unnetted is what we want.  It looks more natural and inviting.

And, even with the protective net, many decaying things manage to get in. But, candidly, I know the protective netting acts as the best barrier – even if we don’t always choose to use it.

So, by us not putting up a protective net, we actually allow more debris and decay.

As long as we live here, we’ll need cleanouts to get rid of the sludge that’s settles.

Likewise, muck and stuff build up under the surface in us. That debris impedes freshness, quality and beauty in our lives.

If a pond needs cleanout, how much more do we need a cleanout of the stuff stored up in our hearts and minds? 

Jesus, help me flow with your fresh water this year.  Clean out any muck and sludge that’s settled in me.  Strengthen your protective barrier so that invading roots can’t siphon away the refreshment you want me to have and to share. And, may others when they see your Living Water in me not find it discolored, but instead sparkling bright with your Light. 

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

  • Which pond, waterfall or body of water have you seen that most stands out to you for its beauty and free flow? 
  • What is taking up residence in your heart right now that could cause decay or damage to how God desires to use you and move in your life? 
  • Is there anything deep inside that you need to ask God to clean out? 
  • In what ways can you better prevent negative and destructive things from entering your life this year? 
  • What do you want to ask God to clean up in you so that His love and His mercy and His peace can best be reflected through you? 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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