Creepy crawlies

Infestations always start with something small and totally manageable. Before your house can crumble from the damage of a million termites, a single termite queen must begin laying eggs in the walls. If you could find the queen before the eggs are deposited, you would avoid the entire ordeal with no more effort than a quick stomp of a shoe.

Sin is the same. Before your life dissolves into a puddle of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, a single act of the flesh must be ignored (or even justified). The tiniest little sin, something that doesn’t even feel wrong or trigger your conscience, can lead to all kinds of deep-seated issues. Additionally, sin can be like an infestation in the sense that sometimes the damage is such that you have to start by doing a little deconstructing of your own before you can start over.

I know this is true because it is in scripture (James 1: 14-15 says “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Unfortunately, I also know it is true because of my own extensive experience as a sinner. There is a well known statistic that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Though I’m not prepared to defend this contested idea, I can say with all certainty that if it’s true, my 24.8 years on this earth have given me well over 100,000 hours of practice (and that is if you, rather graciously, assume I only have sin in my heart 50% of the time). So that makes me a master ten times over. But when you master sin, it’s really sin that masters you. And it all starts with a tiny little thought.

The creepy crawly sins in my life right now are materialism and laziness. Exactly where and how they started, I don’t actually know, but I’m finding it really hard to remove from my life. But recognizing the issue is not the same as dealing with it, and when the issue is laziness and materialism, it’s easy to think “I’ll deal with this tomorrow… but for now, why don’t I buy another gizmo, that will make me feel better!”

Only it doesn’t. Not that I really, deep in my soul, think it will or should. And, to be sure, I can justify my sin so easily. I’m not going into debt to feed my desires for more stuff. I’m not missing deadlines at work to watch another season of Doctor Who on Netflix. In fact, I don’t actually buy many things, I just sort of fantasize about having a newer car, a bigger TV, or a faster computer. And I don’t indulge my desire to waste time when I have no time to waste. No, the problem is not that my relationships are in shambles and I am a shell of my former self; the problem is that I have a termite queen laying eggs in my heart, and I’m questioning whether I should stamp her out now.

Praise God for the life, forgiveness, and help He gives! My prayer, right now, in this exact moment of writing, is that He would show me the severity of my sin and remind me that to leave a “small” sin un-squashed is disastrous and foolish. In fact, my prayer is that He would re-teach me the grace He showed at Calvary and help me see that He squashed sin for me. Fortunately, because I know He is good and desires to sanctify those who are His, His answer to requests for help crushing sin will always be yes.

#read7in7 day 4

“I will not fight you,” Gordon said through clenched teeth. His attackers laughed.

“Are you afraid?” The leader sneered. The rest of the pack began taunting him and shouting obscenities.

“The King has called me to make peace; His greatest command is to love those who wish me ill. I will not fight you.”

“Your king is dead,” he shot back, his sadistic rage boiling over. Gordon’s ears burned as blood rushed to his head. His temper flared, but he swallowed hard and tightened his hold on his staff.

Thirty-five years earlier, Gordon was a young boy, and homeless. Born in the streets, he never met his parents. The man who raised him was a liar and a thief, who took joy in the misery of others. Frequently he would remind Gordon of his orphancy just to watch him squirm. Quincy abused all the children he kept, in every way imaginable, but he was a source of food, and so the urchins and outcasts would flock to him, hopeless and haggard. If you have ever felt inescapably drawn to something you hated and knew was destroying you, you understand why Gordon never left Quincy’s band of thieves and assassins.

He used to dream of being free, but always the pangs of hunger drove him back on his knees. More than once he considered taking his own life, but somehow he could not bring himself to follow through, whether because of his fear of the unknown, or because of a deep sense of hope which could not be extinguished; or perhaps a bit of both. Then one day, he picked the pocket of the King Himself; His highness quickly caught young Gordon, who expected to be slain on the spot. Even after all these years, he could still remember the wild fear that smote his heart as the King began hauling him towards the palace. With the fervor and severity of a rabid wolf, Gordon fought the King. When they arrived, the King spoke to him kindly. Gordon could never forget His voice. Rich like chocolate, smooth like cream, sweet like honey, clear like spring water, deep as the earth itself, and refreshing as a cool breeze, His voice stilled the storms in Gordon.

“I have decided to make you my son. I want to adopt you as my own.”

And so, a new life started for the former gutter-rat. The King lavished gifts of all kinds on his child. The food, never in short supply, filled and nourished Gordon in ways he could not have even dreamed. The King began to teach the boy all His ways, and the young pupil learned to trust his Father. Unfortunately, old habits cling like sticker-burrs in wool, and the vile patterns of his old life sometimes returned. Despite his luxurious diet, he found himself sometimes craving the greasy potage that barely kept him alive before. Without thinking, he occasionally would slit a coinpurse and pilfer as previously. But again and again the King would find him, remind him of the love that bound them together, and restore him to the palace. Gordon hated that he ever returned to the ways Quincy had taught, but it increased his amazement at the King’s patience all the more.

When the King disappeared, no one felt more lost Gordon. At first he thought the King was jesting, but the benevolent monarch recorded the truth for Gordon on parchment. It reminded Gordon of all the King had taught him, and assured him that his Father was still with him, if he remembered all he had learned from the Ruler.

“There are still so many others who do not know me, and I have more than enough in my abundant wealth to rescue them all. I am going to secure a palace large enough for all the poor and needy. I need you to tell them about Me. Explain to them that I love them all, and deeply desire to make them my own. Many will hate you for this task, and will fight against it, as you once fought against me. You must not return their blows with blows. Love them and allow my love for them to show through you, for I love you. I will return for all who are Mine when the time is right.”

Over thirty years ago, Gordon first read the King’s letter. His life was not his own, he owed all that he had to the King, and could imagine few joys greater than sharing the love shown to him with others. Thinking of the journey so far calmed him and reminded him of what his purpose was. His fear and anger drained from him visibly. His knuckles regained color as he released his vice-like grip on the rod in his hands.

“There is nothing you can take from me by killing me that I would not willingly give up for the sake of the King. You think Him dead, but I assure you that He is alive and vengeance will be His. He will return, whether I live to see it or not.”

“I’m willing to test your resolve to die.” Quincy said cooly. The blade came down with a swift, cruel arc, but Gordon’s eyes did not blink, nor waver at all.