Boric Acid for the Soul

by Lorraine Triggs

I attended Moody Bible Institute long before River North was even River North. Old Town still held its mix of seediness and charm and the only Crate & Barrel store in the country was on Wells Street. And a little farther north was subsidized senior housing.

The only reason I knew the housing existed was because it was my “practical Christian work assignment.” No sitting around in the classrooms for us Moody students. Get out there and serve. And so we did in public housing, city churches, at the infamous Cook County Hospital and the county jail (a male-only assignment).

One spring semester, my assignment was at the senior housing and it was there that I met Marie. She had signed up for help with chores and shopping trips. Marie was elderly, elegant and eager to see my partner and me each week. One afternoon, Marie wanted us to clean her cupboards. Simple enough task, right?

We opened the cabinets, took out a can or two of food and screamed. Cockroaches skittered out of the cupboard, fell onto the counter and scampered out of sight behind the floorboards.

“They don’t like the light,” Marie announced, “They will run from it.” She calmly handed us a tin of boric acid to sprinkle in the cupboards in order to kill the roaches.

I thought about those cockroaches the other day as I did my lesson for Women’s Bible Study. I’m sure it wasn’t the study’s intention to make me think of the cockroaches, but for me, it was a good metaphor for the passage we were studying—Ephesians 5:8-14.

One of the questions was “What are some unfruitful works of darkness (v. 11)? What do you think Paul means by telling us to ‘expose’ them?” And that’s when I thought of the cockroaches.

My sin has a lot in common with those cockroaches. They both prefer the darkness, they both run from the light and they both need a strong antidote to get rid of them. But what’s bad news for the cockroaches is good news for my soul.

I need the all-revealing light of God’s Word and a sprinkling of its boric acid-like truth to expose my sins. I need God’s truth—and his people—to block the floorboards and point me back to God’s grace and his forgiveness. I need to be reminded again to walk as a child of the light, and, oh, what joy that is.