The Root of the Problem


A light rain wasn’t so bad, but a heavy rain always meant bad news. Heavy
rain meant flooding in the lower pasture. Heavy rain meant he would spend
several hours the next day helping his dad drain the field–or the swamp,
as his father had come to call it.

By the time Isaac got out of bed in the morning, the rain had stopped.
Unfortunately, it had not stopped soon enough to avoid draining the field.
He put on the appropriate clothes before his father even asked.

They worked alongside each other for most of the day. They stopped once to
take a break for lunch, and even that lasted only fifteen minutes.

“I wish we didn’t have to keep doing this all the time,” Isaac commented.

“Me, too, Son,” his father replied. “But until I can take care of the root
of the problem, it’s going to keep happening.”

“What’s the problem?” Isaac wondered.

“The problem is underground, so I have to rent heavy equipment to dig up
the dirt to get to it. We just don’t have money in the budget for it right

“Why can’t we just let nature take its course and let the water evaporate
and drain on its own?” Isaac was not complaining, he just truly wondered
why his dad took the time for all this hard work.

“Well,” Dad began, “It will take a long time for this much water to
evaporate. During that time the water will grow stagnant and could make the
cows sick if they drink it. It will also attract mosquitoes, which can
bring disease. The best thing to do is drain it as fast as we can to
prevent problems in the future.”

That made sense to Isaac. It also explained why his dad called it the
swamp. If they left it to take care of itself, it really would become a

After a while, his father spoke up again. “It reminds me a lot of our

Isaac made a face. “How is that?”

“Sometimes we let sin in. If we don’t ‘grab it by the ears,’ as my grandpa
used to say, it can cause a lot of problems for us. In the Old Testament,
God told the Israelites to drive out all those who lived in the land and to
destroy all the idols they had set up. They disobeyed God by not following
through. Do you know what happened?”

Isaac thought for a moment, recalling things he had learned in church and
school. “Well, because they didn’t obey and didn’t destroy everything, they
started acting the same way as those they were supposed to destroy. They
started marrying outside of themselves and they also started worshiping
other gods.”

“That’s exactly right. It all began with someone wanting one thing that
those people had, like a prized animal or jewels. God commanded them to
destroy it all and when they didn’t, they allowed sin to come into their

They began working again, and because they weren’t always near each other
enough to talk, chatter dropped considerably for the rest of the day. That
didn’t stop Isaac from thinking about what his dad had said.

That evening, it was all Isaac could do to keep his eyes open through
dinner. All the physical labor of the day had exhausted him.

“Go to bed, son.” He heard his father’s voice, but it seemed somewhat


“Go to bed.” Now his father’s voice sounded normal.

“You’re falling asleep sitting up.” His mom had removed his plate from in
front of him. With a smile she said, “I don’t want you landing face first
in your mashed potatoes.”

Pushing his chair back from the table, he said, “I think I will go to bed,
even if it’s early.”

Isaac didn’t remember anything more of that evening. He fell into bed, and
the next morning, he wasn’t even sure if he had brushed his teeth.

“Did you get some rest?” Mom asked as he came into the kitchen.

“I don’t think I moved all night,” Isaac said as he sat down at the kitchen
table. He was very hungry.

“Oh, by the way, the Jennings are coming for a visit this weekend.”

“Really?” Isaac was not excited. “Do I have to be here?”

Mom looked at him funny. “Of course.”

Suddenly, Isaac wasn’t hungry. The last time the Jennings came, Sawyer, who
was Isaac’s age, stole some money Isaac had been saving. Isaac had held a
grudge ever since.

Fortunately, they didn’t see the Jennings often.

Then, his dad’s words from yesterday came to mind. Was he allowing sin to
take over in his life? He knew he shouldn’t hold a grudge or still be angry
with Sawyer. It was a long time ago. There never had been proof that Sawyer
took the money, except that he was the only one who had been in Isaac’s

“I’ll be right back,” Isaac excused himself from the table. He went into
his room and closed the door so he could pray in private. “Lord, I don’t
want sin to fester in my life. I don’t want my life to be like a swamp. I
want to be obedient to You. If Sawyer did steal that money, that’s between
You and him. Help me to have a good attitude toward him. Amen.”

When he got back to the table, he felt much better. His appetite had
returned, and the pancakes his mom had made smelled delicious.

“Good morning,” his dad said as he sat down in his seat.

“Good morning,” Isaac answered. “Thanks for our talk yesterday, Dad–about
the swamp.”

Dad looked at him, with a wondering look on his face. “You’re welcome.”

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The Root of the Problem

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