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Friday, June 5, 2015

Signs of Indulgence

I remember an occasion as a child when mom had gone to the store for a few hours and left me home with my elderly grandmother.  She napped away while I just hung around doing the things kids did in those days.  I played a little with my favorite toys, read a book, and then I got hungry.  Isn't that just like a kid - they could have a totally "full tank" when the parents left home, but within just a matter of a couple of hours the "need to feed" is back!  So, being a kid and liking my sweets just as much as the next person, I went on the look for something to satisfy that sweet-tooth.  Maybe this wasn't such a big deal to you, but there was this one drawer in the china hutch were grandma kept her candies.  She and mom pretty much were the only ones to get any of the "stash" kept there because they were usually the ones they liked the best.  Mom didn't indulge me with much candy as a child, so it wasn't like we had a drawer marked "regular candy for the rest of the family", but you know what it is like to gets some of those candies you just love and then want to keep them "secure" for those late night attacks of your sweet tooth.  Well, the long story short is that I made my way into this "forbidden stash" and found a handful or so of black licorice.  Now, it wasn't my first choice of candy, but it was all I could find, so I indulged.  I cleverly removed some, put the bag back just like it was and was sure no one would know the difference.  At least if anyone became curious, they might think the candy had been eaten by either grandma or mom.  Uh, at least that was my intention.  You see, I didn't have a clue that black licorice left your mouth blacker than eating a piece of coal and a smell to your breath which could be picked up by bloodhound nearly five miles away!  My intent to "cover" my "sin" by making everything look normal in the drawer was "undone" by the tell-tale signs of my "sin" I had no idea even existed!

Whoever hides their sins will not be successful, but whoever confesses their sins and stops doing wrong will receive mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 ERV)

This is the problem with trying to cover up some misdeed - we think we have it handled because we think people will only see one aspect of that misdeed.  We forget (or don't even realize) the other aspects of the misdeed which eventually work their way to the surface in our lives.  If you have ever tried a "cover up" of your sin, you know exactly what I mean!  The more you try to keep from having it exposed, the worse it gets.  It is like that big blemish you get right on the tip of your nose or in the crease of your chin.  The more you mess with it, the redder and gnarlier it gets to looking!  Try as you might, all the "cover-up" make-up in the world just cakes it with beige gooey stuff, but it really doesn't hide the fact you have a molehill emerging which definitely looks like a mountain to you!  

As a kid, I learned there was seldom anything which escaped my mother's attention - especially the obvious stuff!  I thought she could read minds, or genuinely had eyes in the back of her head, but the truth was my misdeeds left tell-tale signs all over my life.  As I grew up, it wasn't long before I realized the misdeeds went from the simple pilfering of the candy stash to much bigger "misdeeds".  We don't cover-up the small stuff and think nothing will come of it. The more we cover-up the stuff we should have dealt with once and for all when it occurred, the more inclined we will be to engage in stuff a little riskier in the future.  Why?  We somehow think no one is the wiser about our misdeed, so we think no one will find out if we just try it one more time, or do something a little more "over the line".

The issues we don't deal with today become the problems we will definitely have to deal with somewhere else down the road.  It isn't that we "don't" deal with the issues as much as it is we don't "want to" deal with the issues.  We find it more convenient to cover them up and not have to go through the pain or humbling experience of actually coming clean in the here and now.  Speaking from experience, it is much harder to deny you ate the licorice when the entire inside of your mouth is the color of coal than it would be to say you now have a new "favorite" candy flavor!  We try so hard to deny our urges to do something we know better than to do, but when we do give into them, it is much better to "come clean", admitting we crossed the line than to just think we can get away with denying it.

Mom could have let that one pass, and she did for about an hour or so.  When I finally had to use the bathroom, it was then that I recognized the futility of my "cover up".  You see, as I passed that bathroom mirror while washing up, I gazed in full astonishment at the residual of licorice "stain" clearly visible around my mouth.  No way I could deny it - not with mom having "observed the evidence" so clearly on display in my life.  Sin has that same way of living a "residual" in our lives.  We may not think it does, but somehow it is there and will eventually make itself known.  We may have to take a good, hard look at ourselves in the mirror to see it, but it is there.  In that moment of discovering the tell-tale signs of my licorice indulgence, I panicked.  I had denied my indulgence and now I knew there was no way at all I could ever cover this one up - the indulgence had left its stain!  Sin leaves a stain of sorts no matter how well we think we have it buried - the stain eventually shows up.

We need not only to "come clean" about our misdeeds, but we need to be made "clean".  I tried rinsing my mouth, but evidently the type of licorice I ate, or the quantity I consumed left more than a little "black" in my mouth!  It faded, but it was still there.  It wasn't until mom sent me back to the bathroom with the instructions to brush my teeth that it finally came off.  Sin cannot be masked by us just thinking we can do right the next time.  We need to be clean of our sin and the only way to do so is to confess it, allow it to be covered by the blood of Jesus and then move on from it.  Just sayin!