Story of the Day for Friday August 17, 2012
Foot In the Door
Don’t let the devil get his foot in the door.
Dale Hays once wrote in Leadership magazine about a trip he made to Haiti. While there, he heard a Haitian pastor tell the people a parable, which went like this:
A man put his house up for sale. He found a potential buyer, but the man was so poor he could not afford the full asking price. After a lot of haggling, the owner agreed to sell the house for half price, with one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one nail sticking out above the front door.
After a few years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So, the original owner found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the stench made the house unlivable, and the man was forced to sell his house to the former owner.
The Haitian pastor was trying to teach his people, that, if we leave the Devil with one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it.
We all tend to judge things by size. Big things are important; little things much less significant. That is why the devil’s “foot-in-the-door” strategy is especially dangerous. “It’s just a foot, after all,” we reason, “how harmful could that be?”
But, deep inside, we know better. The small, daily choices we make are far more significant than the few “major decisions” in the arc of our lives.
When I’m on a diet, I never decide to pig out on an entire bag of potato chips. I just tell myself, “How bad could one measly handful of chips be?” After the first handful I say, “Okay, but that was a small handful. Just one more . . .” When the feeding frenzy is over, there’s nothing left but an empty bag.
We cannot completely avoid the presence of temptation. But we can control the “foot in the door.” In other words, no matter how holy you are, you are still going to bump into lots of bags of potato chips. The crucial moment of temptation comes earlier than we usually suppose. The best time to resist temptation is not after eating “just one handful”; the best time to exercise self-control is before we shove our hand into the bag.
Starlings are a major nuisance in many parts of our country. Unlike many other birds, they roost together. They can completely carpet an area with their whitewash, and emit a stink that could kill a cow at a hundred paces.
Did you know these pests are not native to North America? Starlings first came to America when Eugene Schieffelin fashioned the noble dream of introducing to America every bird found in Shakespeare’s works. If you’re working with our theme at all, you already know my point: someone should have murdered Shakespeare before he started writing about birds! (I’m kidding, okay? I love Shakespeare.)