Story of the Day for Monday December 5, 2011
Walking Out of the Manure
In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, ”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
When I was in kindergarten, the circus came to town. They promoted the circus by sending “frontrunners” to Gosling’s store. They let you wrap a boa constrictor over your shoulders. But the thing I remember most is that they let you pet a porcupine.
Did I just say they let you pet a porcupine? Wouldn’t you get quills in your hand? Actually, you don’t. The circus people told us to pet the porcupine in a smooth motion, but you must move from head to tail.
Now, what if some kid didn’t want anyone telling him what to do or how to do it? What if he defied instruction and petting the porcupine from the tail to the head? Could he do that? Of course. But it would be unpleasant.
God instructs us in the best way to live. Whenever we defy God, it is like petting a porcupine from tail to head. We end up with a handful of needle-sharp quills.
The first words recorded of John the Baptist are, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” He called the people of Israel to change their minds about how they lived, to confess their ways as wrong, and to find the forgiveness of sin as they were baptized in the Jordan River.
Whenever I hear the word, “repent,” it sounds severe and threatening. I don’t like it. I have learned to associate the word, “repent,” with God sternly threatening that I better shape up or He’s going to scorch me in His wrath.
Actually, repentance is a gracious word from God. The Lord is telling us we’re walking in the wrong direction and he’s saying, “Hey! I’m over here. Turn around.” God uses repentance to make our life better.
When I was an adolescent, our family stopped at a farm in Ohio so my dad could visit with his old buddy from the war. One of the farmer’s sons was my age so we went to do fun stuff. We climbed to the top of the silo, rode boar hogs, and built a fort in the hay mow. But our crowning adventure was trying to ride cows. I say trying to ride cows because I didn’t do so well. I fell off in the barnyard and splatted into several inches of watery manure.
Did I mention that we were going to a funeral later that day and I was wearing dress clothes?
Repentance began when I admitted that riding cows in dress clothes was not a good idea. But only when I was willing to walk out of the barnyard and go to the house could I get a bath, and have my clothes thrown in the washer before we left for the funeral.
God can cleanse no one who refuses to walk out of the manure. We repent when we leave the stench of our ways and let Him wash us clean.
We smell so much better.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)