5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 “He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” 7 Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 ‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if [that had been] too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 ‘Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. (2Sa 12:5-9 NASB)
I’ve never watched one of these episodes of “Hoarders” before. Now that I have, I can see the fascination. It’s like watching those zit-popping videos, and I confess I have watched quite a few of them. They are disgusting and horrible but completely mesmerizing. There are TEN SEASONS of these “Hoarders” shows! TEN SEASONS!!! It almost seems like hoarding behavior to make this many shows about hoarding. One episode was easily enough for me.
Andy and Becky
So I watched this episode about Andy and Becky in Marysville Washington, which is actually pretty close to where I live. Their house was absolutely unbelievable. Every room was so stuffed full of garbage and detritus and rotting food and junk that they themselves could barely even walk through or sit down. Whenever they would move from one point to another, there was always the danger that they would be buried by an avalanche of debris. It was all infested with rats and vermin, and I’m sure it smelled absolutely awful.
The strange thing is, Andy and Becky vehemently defended their right to live that way. The city of Marysville received numerous complaints and sent officers regularly to try to work with them to clean things up. These were strange confrontations, where the police officer was actually dysfunctionally patient and kind to them and Andy and Becky cursed and yelled accusatory things at him. Andy considered all of this to be an egregious violation of his personal rights and that any attempt to sway him was part of a liberal agenda. They even ended up writing a letter to Donald Trump complaining about the liberal agenda against them.
Finally, there came to be legal action hanging over their heads, and if something wasn’t done they were going to lose their house. However, this did not phase Andy and Becky. They stood their ground and held on to their determination to live in an absolute hellhole. They even hired a lawyer to defend their right to live in their overstuffed dangerous pit of despair.
Finally a psychologist who specializes in hoarding disorders was sent to talk to them and to some other family members who were involved. I think even he was shocked at the state of their domicile! He brought in their son, who had not seen the inside of their house for some time. The house was so filled with random junk at this point that every room was just a tunnel where you walked on debris surrounded by debris which threatened to collapse over you in an avalanche any moment. It was impossible to even enter the bedrooms. The son ended up confronting his dad in a very emotional way, since it was a tremendous health hazard to live in such a place. Things then began to change.
Andy and Becky were still not on board, but the son was determined for something to be done. He pleaded with his dad to allow them to help, appealing to their loss of the house. The lawyer corroborated that if they didn’t do something they would legitimately lose the house.
The Amazing City of Marysville
So here’s the amazing part of the story. Many people from the community and from the neighborhood came together in the sweetest and most helpful way to begin to do the extremely hard work of clearing out their yard and their house. Andy and Becky still resisted though! Becky actually just walked off and disappeared the day the cleaning was set to start. They delayed the start because they didn’t want to do things that Becky wouldn’t approve. Can you believe that? They had this enormous respect for Andy and Becky, after they had repeatedly resisted help in the most vicious way. It was astonishing to me. While people were cleaning her place, Becky would sift through the piles of junk and take things and stash them in other people’s yards nearby for safekeeping! The people who were directing the effort were constantly worried about including Andy and Becky in the decision making process, which really slowed down the work.
In the end, the yard had been cleared front and back, and a lot of the house had been cleared, but it was not done. The inspectors came and said the house was still not up to the standard it needed to be to meet legal standards by the legal deadline. Amazingly they said that enough had been done that they would drop the legal threat and Andy and Becky could keep their home. The community was actually thrilled! In all 160 tons of junk had been hauled away, and in the following days 80 tons more was hauled away! Becky and Andy agreed to go to therapy, and I believe Andy was a changed man by the end.
An Amazing Parable of Faith
I think this is such a parable of faith. We are each in our own way Andy and Becky. We cling to our right to exercise our free will to destroy ourselves. We viciously lash out against anyone who treads on that right. We cling to our wrong-headed righteousness in the midst of our obvious sin when it is clear to everyone, especially those closest to us, that it is destroying us. We are utterly blind to the hypocrisy we are completely enmeshed in. And all of this is not only destroying us, it is destroying everyone around us. Yet we refuse to change, we refuse to even think we need to change. We blame everyone else. We blame society. We blame authority figures. It’s such a mess. And the reluctant and inevitable conclusion of the law is that we must go.
But the remarkable thing is that God sees all of this, and despite our foolish objections, He still persists in His patience and kindness towards us! Our repentance is close to non-existent, and yet He works all manner of unseen miracles that we will never express gratitude for on our behalf. The whole town of Marysville expressed an unbelievable amount of patience and kindness to these vile people despite their persistent objections. Their kindness ended up winning the day! We can expect that despite ourselves, God’s kindness is far more persistent than our sin and our foolishness and our dysfunction. Even though we are such horrid sinners as a race that we would murder our own savior, God raised Him from the dead to persist with great power and authority in saving us from ourselves. I’m so grateful that my salvation does not depend on my tepid and laughable repentance, but on God’s insistence that I be saved and that my dignity be restored.