From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped over 2 million tons of ordnance over Laos in 580,000 bombing missions, the equivalent of one planeload every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 straight years.  At least 270 million cluster bomblets were dropped as part of the bombing campaign; approximately 80 million failed to detonate. Data from a survey completed in Laos in 2009 indicate that UXO, including cluster bombs, have killed or maimed as many as 50,000 civilians in Laos since 1964 (and 20,000 since 1973, after the war ended). Over the past two years there have been over one hundred new casualties each year. About 60% of accidents result in death, and 40% of the victims are children. Laos has suffered more than half of the confirmed cluster munitions casualties in the world. Over the past four decades, less than 1% of the bomblets that failed to detonate have been cleared. All 17 provinces in Laos, and 41 of 46 of the poorest districts in Laos, are burdened with unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination.

Just last year, on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, one of these hidden unexploded `bombies’ yet once again finally did what it was made to do and exploded in Paek District, Xieng Khouang province, tragically killing one child and injuring five adults and seven other children; almost 44 years since America left Vietnam and about 54 years since America first started dropping bombs onto Laotian soil.

Without question, the tiny southeast Asian country of Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the history of all mankind. We, the United States of America, created a huge mess in that nation, all because they were in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” geographically-speaking, and when we pulled out of Vietnam in the mid-1970s we simply left our mess there; left it there for them to both clean up themselves, and deal with for the remainder of their country’s existence. For many of the Laotian people, the Vietnam War never truly has ended, as they have continued to live with its residual effects and casualties for the past fifty years now.

What about in our own personal lives, when we create a huge mess because of our sin, which sin always does, and then fail to “clean it up,” whatever that may mean? Who else is effected, or might be effected one day down the road, and be damaged or hurt as a result? Something that we do wrong now, and do not make right could have long-lasting results for years to come, and affect many other lives that we never would have thought possible. Consider King David, the man after God’s own heart, from II Samuel 11, who as we all know messed up big time, staying home from battle, being up on his rooftop at the wrong time, looking in the wrong direction, and eventually doing the wrong thing. He created a massive mess out of his sin, and never cleaned up his mess, never truly made things right with those that he wronged. He confessed his sin to God, yes, and got things right in Heaven, but never cleaned up his mess here on Earth and made things right with those that he truly hurt as a result of his sin.

Take just a moment and consider all the individuals who David involved in his sin: 1. Himself, 2. Bathsheba, 3. His servants he sent to go and fetch her for him, 4. Uriah, her husband, 5. Joab, his army captain, 6. The entire army of Israel, 7. The entire nation of Israel once they heard all of the gossip and started putting the pieces together to discover or uncover what David, their king, had done, 8. The effect this had on his children for years to come, 9. Nathan the prophet, 10. Bathsheba’s family – namely, Ahithophel, who hated David for what he had done to his family. Quite the mess. We are no different than David though; just as human, and just as weak and susceptible to temptation.

Before we ever “move on” in life, after committing any sin or wrong-doing that has without question affected others, may we pause and take stock of all the ramifications that our actions both have caused right now, and may one day cause, and take the time to genuinely with a true heart of repentance, clean up our sin mess. Close your eyes right now and think about the worst sin you have ever committed in your life, and the mess that it created. Did you ever clean that mess up? Or did you just leave it there? Or, like David, did you try to cover your mess up? Cover it up with yet a bigger mess, and then cover that bigger mess up with yet an even bigger mess?

It is NEVER too late, to go back to the point in your life where that original mess was created and “clean it up.” This may actually involve you accepting the consequences FOR your sin, even if no one else already knew about it. Which you you rather do, accept the consequences of your sin mess NOW, get it cleaned up, once and for all, and know the mess is cleaned up, and will affect no other people. Or, “take your chances” and leave the mess there that you made, just hoping that no one else gets hurt because of your mess? It rarely ever worksout that way…for David, his family, and his nation, or for the innocent people of Laos. Leaving our sin mess could and will affect people for years to come, possibly even long after we are gone. King David suffered many things throughout the remainder of his life that he never would have had to, had he not sinned in the first place period, true, but even still after he did sin, was confronted by Nathan, and repented, had he cleaned up his mess and made things right with those people he had wronged, it would have helped him out so much down the road with the family problems he wound up having.

Just as every mother since the beginning of time has said to her children once they are finished playing, working, or creating some new “masterpiece” of artwork…and just as God has said to me and clearly spoken to my heart many a time over the course of my life after being convicted of my sin…“Remember to CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!”

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” – Matthew 18:15

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” – Colossians 3:12-16