Normally, it is nice to be popular. Not in this case, however. A few years ago, our house became popular with bats. Living in an older house has advantages. The attraction its large attic has for bats, though, was definitely not one.
I am no expert on bat removal (if I were, we wouldn't be talking about my bat problem), but I did considerable research. My conclusion based on hours of reading, internet surfing, and conversations with exterminators is: Nobody knows how to get rid of bats.
Actually, there are several effective ways to remove bats from a house. It just happens that most of them are illegal. The little critters are endangered. I don't think this is because of any danger of extinction; several billion lived in our neighborhood alone. It must because invading a stranger's house is always endangering. At any rate, that means I couldn’t legally burn the house down to get rid of them.
I could, however, seal the hole through which they enter while they are out for dinner. Sounds simple enough, right? Just go out at midnight, climb a ladder in the dark, and nail a board over the hole without being mistaken for a prowler.
The catch is that you can't just seal the one hole. The bats will just find another microscopic opening and come in a different way. To rid the attic of bats, every possible entry point must be closed. Then, they move to the neighbor's attic and he can be popular for a while.
All of that to get to this Biblical point. (Hey, it's a religious column; you knew it couldn't just be about bats.). Jesus said that our hearts are like my attic. It's great to run the bad things out, but if we don't fill up the space with something good, the bad just comes back and brings a friend. "And the final condition of that man is worse than the first" (Luke 11:26).
It's wonderful if you are trying to run bad habits out of your life. But, with what are you filling the time and space those habits occupied? Why not plug the holes with involvement in church activities, fellowship with Christians, service to your community, Bible reading, and prayer? Those are things guaranteed to seal your heart against harmful habits.
After all, you don't want to be popular with bats or bad habits.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.