“You’ve got termites.” Such was the assessment of the friendly exterminator. Not the news I was hoping to hear. I saw the little dirt piles and thought a few ants might have decided to stop by for a slumber party. Boy was I wrong. Ants I can handle, but termites are out of my league.

I have seen termite hills in Africa that are taller than a grown man. The bug man assured me the army at work in my house was in the minor leagues compared to the termites that thrive in Africa. Nonetheless, they both have a craving for wood.

Termites are creepy and determined. They live underground and bore their way throughout the earth in search of succulent wooden fibers. They tunnel their way like prisoners on a jail break looking for a weak spot, crack or crevice in the foundation of your home. Once they locate a cranny, they literally worm their way inside in search of dinner. They rarely fail.

Termites are tiny in stature but operate with a big appetite. They are well mannered enough. They are neat, don’t smack and even share with others. They are polite and don’t require attention. But like relatives who stay too long after dinner, termites don’t know when to leave. Once they find what they are looking for, they will literally eat you out of house and home. They may look harmless but termites come to seek and destroy.

Termites have a way of sneaking up on you. Everything seems to be going just dandy then-bang! They are there. Everything can look great on the outside, but on the inside, things are on the verge of collapse. Ask anyone who has ever pushed their finger through a piece of sheetrock. Things aren’t always as they seem. Everything seems normal and healthy on the exterior, but beneath the surface decay is having its way. What once was fresh, new and vibrant is nothing but a shell waiting to crumble under the slightest amount of pressure.

Families, marriages and friendships can find themselves in a similar predicament. Relationship termites sneak their way into our lives. Someone does something that bugs us. We ensue with subtle teasing about the issue which then turns into sarcasm, which then breeds a belligerent comment which eventually takes full bloom as a hostile offense. The core fiber of the relationship deteriorates until nothing more than an outer shell remains. Cordial, polite exchanges are made in public, but beneath the surface, the relationship decays. The slightest bit of pressure reveals the hidden reality, and in a flash, the relationship crumbles.

What we need is a relationship exterminator, a professional who is an expert at eliminating the interpersonal termites that gnaw at our relationships. Jesus promised to send an “Exterminator,” a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, to serve as our counselor, comforter and advisor. When we yield to His leadership, He has a way of helping us exterminate the relationship bugs that are eating away at our lives. Got relationship termites? Maybe it is time to call THE Exterminator.