ains from Tropical Storm Agatha and natural conditions are cited for causing a sinkhole 100 feet deep and 65 feet wide that swallowed a three-story building on May 31, 2010, in downtown Guatemala City. One onlooker said, “The building was there one moment and gone the next!” (Google it for yourself.)
Sinkholes occur most commonly when underground layers of rock, such as limestone, are dissolved by groundwater or seepage from surface water and form large caves that eventually collapse.
A sinkhole is an apt analogy of what can happen in our spiritual lives. The principles of God’s Word are like the layers of rock upon which we build our lives and base our decisions (Matt. 7:24-27). These principles are eroded away by what I call the Sinkhole Seven:
(1) Toxic Faith
—distorted views of the gospel that poison our thinking; (2) Sporadic Devotions
—the belief that regular prayer, Bible study, service, and fellowship is optional; (3) Jaded Relationships
—associations with people who exert a negative impact on us; (4) Wellness Slack-a-tude
—ignoring the need to practice good health habits; (5) Career Disillusionment
—doing nothing to improve or change an odious job; (6) Unresolved Memories
—destructive thoughts that go unresolved; (7) Vexing Vicissitudes
—life is out of control, yet no corrective action is taken.
The Sinkhole Seven are reasonable predictors for a sinkhole calamity. You know the story: To all outward appearances believers are the epitome of Christian faithfulness. Then without warning, their lives collapse into a sinkhole of sin, calamity, and shocking revelations. We wonder how it could have happened so suddenly. But like most sinkholes, it didn’t happen suddenly; there was a history.
With time, and the insidious influences of the world, cracks slowly begin to appear. Little attention is given to the deeper values of life, and spiritual habits slip. With the passing of time, life becomes ever busier. Devotional life is viewed as more of a burden than a blessing. Devotion and the personal initiative to address spiritual needs became a thing of the past. Then it happens: Life collapses!
Spiritual sinkholes are part of our sin problem as humans. As long as we have earthly bodies we will have to deal with the possibilities of spiritual sinkholes. Paul may have been thinking about this when he wrote: “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Rom. 7:18-20).
So what is the solution? First, even before you fall into a sinkhole, follow Ellen White’s advice: “Now let every person search his own heart and plead for the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to expel all spiritual darkness and cleanse from defilement” (The Adventist Home,
But if you fall into a sinkhole, don’t stay there; don’t get used to sinkhole thinking and living. Don’t focus on how bad things are. That’s exactly what the devil, the architect of sinkholes, wants you to do.
Try this: the minute you realize you’re falling into a sinkhole, acknowledge your need for help and do something about it. Remember, we can’t just claw our way out of a sinkhole on our own. But when we ask God for forgiveness and for the aid of the Holy Spirit, receive His justifying love and acceptance, and with a new attitude confess and repent, we can change those habits that led to sinkhole thinking.
Let’s put on the spiritual armor that protects us from sinkholes (Eph. 6:10-18), and find a spiritual accountability partner for a renewed walk with Christ. With God’s help we can get out of—and stay out of—sinkholes.
Learn from Guatemala City. Avoid sinkholes!
Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published August 25, 2011.