Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #158

#158 "Looks Can Be Deceiving"
July 29, 2008
"Soon she has him eating out of her hand,  bewitched by her honeyed speech. Before you know it, he's trotting behind her, like a calf led to the butcher shop, Like a stag lured into ambush and then shot with an arrow, Like a bird flying into a net not knowing that its flying life is over." (Proverbs 7: 21-23 MSG)
Most of you already know that I have my quiet time with the Lord early in the morning, weather-permitting, on my backyard patio. I guess there's just something about the eastern sky turning pink, the sound of gentle breezes in the trees, and the birds singing their praise songs to the Lord, that makes me feel as close to Heaven as is humanly possible. Creation testifies to the Father's faithfulness in the dawning of each day, and new mercies are visible in His creative handiwork. But I never expected the raccoons!
Sunday mornings are especially quiet. There's hardly any traffic on my normally very busy street and no one decides to cut their lawn at the crack of dawn. I was leaning forward and listening. Everything was so still in my backyard sanctuary. Just me and the breeze and the birds. Or so I thought. All of a sudden, what to my wandering eyes should appear? Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five raccoons, following one another in the yard behind me and heading right in my direction. Praises went forth from my lips for whoever invented fences. I have to admit that I was somewhat...well...terrified! These varmints were huge! They were bigger than my dog, Sylli...and obviously well fed. They were on the chunky side if I may say so myself.
You would have laughed so hard if you would've seen me! I didn't know which books or pen or coffee cup to grab first because I was certain they were going to get through that fence and devour me, PJ's and all. I needed to get into the house and fast...but not too fast...I might attract their attention and they might charge...slow down...no, work fast...get out of here...then...dadgummit! I don't want to go in the house!. I'm going to stay and put my trust in that fence to keep them at bay. Just then they started climbing the trees and one lone bandit sat at the fence line and looked straight at me. Right in the eyes. Then he (or she) would stoop down for a second, pop back up and look at me again. I kept my glasses on the tip of my nose because being near sighted, if I put them on properly my vision would be blurred and I still wasn't sure they weren't planning their attack on me at that very moment and that the one looking me in the eyes might've been the lookout bandit. I get a little short of breath just telling you the ghastly tale.
But they were SO cute! They were furry and pudgy and looked like they would be very cuddly to just pick up and hold. I knew better than that. Not one to ever mince words, my husband said that in spite of how cute they look, "they'll rip your throat out!" And according to my research on the web, he may just be right. Raccoons have sharp claws and sharp teeth. They are known to carry rabies and will turn and snap when threatened. They are extremely powerful and will attack if provoked. I know that I often stretch the analogies, but go with me here....those raccoons are kind of like sin, don't you think? Cute, cuddly and harmless looking on the outside, but deadly to the touch. 
As far back as the garden of Eden, Satan has been saying, "You will not surely die". (Genesis 3: 4) Go ahead and ask the first couple how well that logic worked for them. It was just a piece of fruit. It's just a little bit of gossip. It's just one look at a dirty picture. Just one little white lie. Just one harmless TV show. A little flirting never hurt anyone. I'll just have one drink. One snort. One night stand. It's all fine. I've got it all under control. I will not surely die! 
The voice of sin is persuasive. The words are seductive. (Proverbs 7: 21) They tell you that stolen things are sweet and secret things are delicious. (Proverbs 9: 17) Just a little, just once, it can't hurt you, everyone is doing it. Sound familiar? In the context of adultery in Proverbs 7, God's Word tells us the results of following that way of thinking. And I think we can apply these words to any type of sin. "All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life." "Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death." "..little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave". (Proverbs 7: 22-23; 26-27; 9: 18)  
Common sense tells me that if sin wasn't made to look attractive, I would never be attracted to it. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11: 14). And to this very day he deceives us into believing that we will not surely die. Most times we know better. We're not ignorant. But we let ourselves be deceived and talked into sin and right out of what we know God would want for us. One of the important themes of Proverbs is that righteousness exalts, but sin is always a reproach. Get that? Always! Sorry, devil, but we WILL surely die. You are a liar and the father of lies. Maybe we won't die physically, though sometimes that may be true. But each time we give in to the seduction, a little piece of us dies on the inside and a moment of God's abundant life is lost. We suffer consequences that sometimes last for the rest of our lives. We can be forgiven...that's for sure..but we will still suffer the effects of our choices to sin.
Make a decision today to stop being deceived. One of my commentaries says this, "If you want to avoid the devil, stay away from his neighborhood. If you suspect you might be vulnerable to a particular sin, take steps to avoid it." Stay in God's neighborhood. Know His Word and ask Him to show you His standards of right and wrong. What the world thinks is acceptable surely isn't always acceptable to God. But the lines aren't always crystal clear. The promises that sin makes are often cute, cuddly and seemingly harmless like those raccoons, but sure as shootin' "they'll rip your throat out".
Halfway through my quiet time I watched the raccoons line up once again in single file, and go in the opposite direction. I even counted to be sure all five had left the premises. But I have kept my glasses on the tip of my nose ever since, just in case they come up for a sneak attack from another direction on another day. After all, that's the advice my friend Peter gave me when he said, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion (or a raccoon) looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5: 8)
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