Coming Out of the Gutter

Coming Out of the Gutter

According to the dictionary a gutter is defined as:

  • trough along the eaves to catch and carry off rainwater
  • A low area (as at the edge of a street) to carry off surface water (as to a sewer)
  • A trough or groove to catch and direct something (e.g. The gutters of a bowling alley)
  • a white space formed by the adjoining inside margins of two facing pages (as of a book)
  • the lowest or most vulgar level or condition of human life

Physical gutters have a purpose. They funnel rain from the roof or the street to the storm drain. They prevent pools of water from collecting on surfaces and causing flooding. At a Bowling alley if the ball goes off course the gutter catches the ball. They essentially help the ball stay in its lane. One thing they appear to have in common in most cases is that they sit below everything else, because they are meant to catch something that could otherwise become problematic if not addressed.

We as people can find ourselves ‘in the gutter’ as defined above as the lowest condition of human life. It’s a place in which no one wants to be, and if someone ends up there they don’t want to stay. Remaining in this state can quickly become problematic. Unlike physical gutters that prevent things from going off course, this kind of gutter seems to want to hold you there. It’s a place that is hard to leave once you’ve arrived. I feel like this can be where addictions reside and where all sorts of evil thrives.

Unfortunately we can find ourselves in that place through our own choices or through no fault of our own. Once you find yourself ‘in the gutter’ what do you do? How do you come out? Let’s look to two biblical examples

Joseph – His story can be found in Genesis 37 – 41. 

In summary, Joseph was one of 12 children. Joseph was the favorite and his father even made him a special coat. Because of this his brothers were jealous. He also had special dreams. He shared these dreams with his brothers and they became even more envious. His brothers plotted against him, threw him in a pit, and ultimately he was sold into slavery in Egypt. While a slave in Egypt he was falsely accused of trying to assault his master’s wife and thrown into prison. In spite of his circumstances  however, God was with him. The Bible says, ‘The Lord was with Joseph and in all he did he prospered’. He was eventually brought before Pharaoh in Egypt, interpreted Pharaoh’s troubling dream, and ended up as second in command in all of Egypt.

The Prodigal son – His story can be found in the Bible in Luke chapter 15 starting at verse 11.

In summary, a man had 2 sons. The younger of the 2 asked the father for his share of the estate/inheritance. Customarily an inheritance is received at someone’s death, but he wanted his now. He traveled to a distant land, burned through everything, was practically starving, and even wished he could eat the husks the pigs were eating. He finally came to his senses and decided to go back home to work for his father not as his son, but as a hired servant. Surprisingly, as he approached his home, his father saw him from a distance and rather than rejecting him, he sent servants to grab a robe and a ring to give him. He also threw a big homecoming celebration for him, because he was so happy his son had returned home. In Luke 15:24 his father said, ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found’.

In both stories the common theme is God’s grace. For Joseph God was with him no matter where he ended up and allowed him to be successful. For the prodigal son he first had to come to his senses. In Luke 15:17 in the KJV of the Bible it says, ’And when he came to himself…’. It seems he first had to recognize his state. Once he did he was able to make the decision to repent and ask forgiveness of his father and of God. He had a heart change. When he went home he was received with open arms by his father, which is how God receives us when we repent and come back to him.

God’s grace is amazing! If you find yourself in a gutter experience in life God can bring you out. Whether you’re there through no fault of your own and God’s grace guides/abides with you the whole way or whether you come to realize where you are and how much you need God and He gracefully receives you with open arms, either way God is with you. He loves you and if you trust Him he can bring you out. It may not happen overnight, but just hold on and see what God does. Will you trust Him?

How will you shine today?

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