As I swept the sidewalk after mowing, my heart turned momentarily to envy. "Boy, I wish I had one of those blowers like my neighbors do. I’d blow all this grass into the street and be done with this."

Then I remembered something I saw a number of years ago. As I was headed back to my office after lunch, I saw a guy using one of those blowers to get leaves off his driveway. It was fall and the trees were shedding. He wanted a quick way to clean up his driveway. It sure looked like he found the answer!

But that night, a "norther" blew in. Now a norther in Texas is a six hour big blow of arctic wind as a cold front moves in and changes our temperature about 30 degrees toward the chillier end of the scale! Mr. Leafblower had a very unwanted discovery when he woke up the next morning: His leaves were all back on his driveway! On my way to work, he was out there cleaning them off again, only this time he had a broom, a rake, and a trash bag. No leaf blower! He wasn’t going to go through the game again.

We live in a leaf blower culture! Get it done in a hurry. Don’t mess with the details. Why use a broom and get rid of the problem when you can blow the problem into someone else’s way.

We live in a leaf blower culture! But it's not just our culture. It's also our walk with Jesus. We often look for shortcuts. When we've blown it, we want instant forgiveness. God generously gives us forgiveness, but we seldom look for growth—we take the shortcut to clean up in our own hearts and so we fall into the same ol' trap again… and again ... and again. We're not as smart as the guy with the leaf blower. He learned his lesson after the first time!

It doesn't really get the job done.
That's why God gave us community. Whether you call it small group, Christian friends, an accountability partner, or what, we all need others to help us get through. To ask forgiveness and then not place ourselves into a relationship of accountability with others is like blowing leaves off the drive way. Everything looks clean for the moment, but the problem's not gone. It's just waiting for another ill wind and back come the leaves. Until we've swept them up and put them in a bag, they're going to come back. You know, the next season for leaves to fall comes soon enough without having to deal with the ones that are already on the ground again ... and again ... and again.

I want to encourage you to get with two or three other people of the same gender. Let this be a place of weekly spiritual conversation. "How are you doing? How's your prayer life? Have you kept up with your Bible readings? What can we do to encourage you?" Let it also be a place of confession and accountability. "I'm having trouble with ... right now." "How are you doing dealing with ... ?" And a place of discussing what God has taught you this week in your life and in your Bible reading. "What did God show you in his Word this week? What is God doing in your life right now?"

While a leaf blower works quickly, it doesn't really get the job done. If the goal is to have clean sidewalks, they're going to have to be swept and bagged, not just blown. Isn't the same true with you?