(Photo credit: Deva Williamson)
One Easter when my son was about three, he received a basket from the Easter Bunny. It was filled with the usual things- candy, small toys, and plenty of loose strips of fake green grass. Now he has always been very content to entertain himself, but one day I realized that he and his new basket had been particularly quiet in his room.
Quiet. The “Q” word. In the parenting dictionary this is defined as one of two things:
1. an indication of sleep
..or, (and more likely)..
2. an indication of trouble
Any gamblers out there want to take a guess which one applied in this case?
Yep. Option #2 gets it.
(Photo credit: Debby Hudson)
Once I realized that he had been so uncharacteristically quiet, I crept down the hall and peeked into his room. What I saw can only be described as the beginnings of the most unsuccessful clean up effort of which I’d ever partake.
I caught his eye and he looked back at me, beaming with pride, and declared, “Mommy! Grass!”
He had taken each strip of plastic grass from his Easter basket, almost individually, and carefully placed each one in between the strands of the expanse of carpeting in his room. Hundreds.. perhaps thousands (probably not thousands, but it seemed so,) of bright green strips lay meticulously matted into the carpeting. He looked to me for a reaction, smile still spread across his innocent face as he admired both his new pretend lawn and me. I paused, then resigned in that moment to let him have his happiness.
“Looks great, buddy,” I said, a stiff smile stationed painfully on my face, silently dreading the cleanup to come. I vowed to myself in that moment that this Easter bunny would never again use the fake plastic grass.
That memory is still laughed over in our family. Even now, after nearly six years and a move to a new house I still, on occasion, find a strip of bright green plastic grass. It may be lurking in a storage container, the corner of a rarely used closet, or may have snuck its way in clinging to an old stuffed animal or wrapped up in an unused blanket. I don’t know how it’s managed to do it, but still it finds me from time to time. It has permeated my life in some strange way and I’ve forfeited trying to escape it.
– • – • – • – • –
(Photo credit: Debby Hudson)
I’m sure we’ve all heard that we’re to love the sinner and hate the sin. (#Goals.) But what happens when we end up being influenced by another sinner, rather than that person being encouraged by us?
In our all important mission to bring others to all the good we experience by following Christ, sometimes we get too comfortable in the middle ground. Each and every one of us is also a sinner, so it can be easy to relate to a person who doesn’t know Christ. That’s where we have to be careful not to start making exceptions in our faith.
When we love people it becomes natural to accept each one as a person- but then it can get messy. Do we accept their sins, too? Do we let things slide because we know “her heart is in the right place,” or “he’s a good person underneath it all”? The next step then becomes that our loved one rubs off on us, permeating our habits and bents with their own. If you need some examples of the habits we pick up in friendship, let me assure you that I never really thrift store shopped, used cheesecake as a means of emotional therapy, considered contacting my pastor for guidance, or listened to 90s rock before my two closest friends came along. Some practices are good, some are questionable, but both became a part of my life at some point nonetheless. People permeate people. The grass gets wrapped around the fibers of the carpet. It all meshes together until you’re not sure if the carpet is green and the grass is tan, or if your opinion is yours or your friend’s.
The book of Jude was pretty eye opening on this for me:
“They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.”
Jude 1:18-19 NLT
I don’t think all non-believers purposely try to derail you from a life of faith. As Jude says, “they follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.”
Sometimes we hold on to old habits because we are still trying to navigate a new life with God’s Spirit in us. For me, bad language can be difficult to let go of. It was normal in my “B.C.” life, and it was normal around certain friends. Now when I slip, I feel an instant uncomfortable twinge- a guiding instinct of the Spirit living in me, directing me toward godliness and eternal life. This is my hope for my loved ones- that they may experience that guidance and eventually, eternal life in Heaven.
(Photo credit: Aaron Burden)
To help our friends and family get there, and to preserve our own faith in the process, Jude says:
“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”
Jude 1:20-23 NLT
Build each other up, pray, and wait as God works. Show love to every person who crosses your path, and especially those close to your heart. Just take care in building relationships- and let your relationship with God be above all. After all, He is the only one uncontaminated by sin, the only one not tangled up in the messy plastic grass that clings to the rest of us.
A very Happy Easter to you all!