Myrtle Beach Reflections ~ Part 3
If asked to describe the best thing about the beach, most would probably say something about sand, sun or surf. While those are indeed wonderful, I don’t necessarily consider them the best part of our bi-annual trips to the coast. I really like mealtime. And I don’t mean going out to restaurants, eating seafood or even really anything to do with the food itself at all. What I really enjoy is the camaraderie that mealtime affords. With both sets of grandparents and all of our kids around the table, ‘story time’ is frequently a side dish to our shared meals.
While we always have retellings of familiar favorites, this year Clif’s dad, “Papa Woody,” recounted a new tale about an incident when he was only about eight. One summer morning, he was up early helping his grandfather milk the cows in the barn…. Or as he put it, he was supposed to be helping with the milking. What was really happening was his granddad was taking care of the chores, and he was mindlessly playing around in the barn. He said he’d been warned to pay attention around the livestock, but being such a young boy, he was too focused on his make-believe to notice where he was. Before he knew it, the cow kicked him hard in the back, knocking him unceremoniously face down in the muck of the barn floor. Seeing what took place out of the corner of his eye, but without breaking his milking rhythm, his grandfather matter-of-factly said, “Always be aware of your surroundings, boy.”
I think that’s pretty good advice that we need to seriously keep in mind if we’re going to walk in close fellowship with the Lord in a world that’s hostile to the Gospel, to Christ and all that’s godly. Too often, believers get knocked down by punches that they never saw coming. Then as they shake their heads in stunned bewilderment, they wonder how God could allow such a blow to land on them… never realizing it was they themselves who wandered into a precarious situation without noting the danger looming right close by.
You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. …
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate,
and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:5, 8
What happens after you get a big speeding ticket? For the next few days, or weeks, you’re much more careful about how fast you drive, right? But if you’re like most people, after a little while, your velocity increases, especially if it’s in an area that you feel the speed limit is way too low anyway. It’s probably only a small increase at first… then a little more, until pretty soon, you’re blowing through at the same speeds that got you the ticket in the first place. That’s because the longer we ‘get away with it’, the more likely we are to believe that we will never get caught.
There are a number of verses in both the Old and New Testaments that remind God’s followers to be watchful and pay attention. Scripture makes it clear that we “reap what we sow” and that sin always has consequences. The problem is that those penalties don’t always show up immediately. I mean, you don’t get that speeding ticket every time, do you? You don’t get busted every time you steal. You can get away with lying for a while, and generally, nothing bad happens the first time you go out with an unbeliever. That delay in consequences is deceptive. Because we don’t see them right away, we’re misled to believe there are none.
This attitude of complacency breeds recklessness. The promise of scripture is that if you’re wandering where you shouldn’t be, one day “the cow will kick you.” Now, there’s always grace and mercy available for us when we end up face down in the –uh- ‘mud’, and we never have to worry about God condemning us for our mistakes or saying ‘I told you so.’ In fact, if I can continue the barnyard analogy, His grace and mercy are what motivates Him to pick us up, clean us off, and bandage our wounds when we do get knocked down. However, grace isn’t just for the times when we blow it. It’s also available to help keep us from making blunders in the first place. Believers have the written Word of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the company of other believers to assist us in staying out of harm’s way.
But that means we have to believe that the pleasures of sin are passing (Heb. 11:25) and that the consequences of our willfulness will leave us bruised and battered. Safety begins with wanting to do the right thing in the first place and then paying attention to whats going on around us enough to avoid dangerous situations. You can start now by asking yourself a few basic questions. Like, where am I anyway? Am I playing around where you shouldn’t be? Have I wandered dangerously close to the wrong end of the cow? Listen to the grace of God as He calls you away from danger and back behind the safe fence of His protective love.