Thursday, July 31, 2014

Even little gaps may be too big


I'll start with the story about my two sons which prompted this post.

Logan is 19 years old and Blake is 10. Whenever Logan comes home from Uni, Blake acts delighted to see him, but Logan's backpack is the real draw card. Blake knows he may often find packets of lollies or chocolate in there, as Logan likes to stock up at the supermarket before he catches his bus. Blake has learned from experience that Logan's backpack may be his main way of sneaking a treat.

This seemed to work okay in moderation, but Logan noticed that when he started to feel around for a snack in lectures, he sometimes didn't have anywhere near as much food as he thought he did. One day, he came home with a small lock on his bag and a broad grin on his face. He called, 'Hey, Blake, there are lollies in my bag. I dare you to try and get some now.'

That was a challenge not to be missed. After fiddling about, Blake realised that he could make a tiny opening between the zipper and lock about the size of a 20 cent piece. He has small hands and persistent fingers. He was able to bunch up the backpack fabric and wriggle out a Crown Mint, which he popped into his mouth.

Logan walked past and sniffed perpermint around his brother. He saw the smug smile. Now, Logan is generally too old to 'lose it' these days, but it was one of the occasions he felt pushed too far. He was stamping around, furious, and finally sat with his face in his hands.

'He's beaten me. I put a lock on the bag. What more can I do to keep him out? But he's won!'

A little while later, he produced a pencil case which he filled with lollies and locked up. This, he placed in the backpack, which he locked just as before. He said, 'Let's see him break through both locks, then,' but I noticed that he didn't issue the challenge again.

How much like life this is. We may often hear that we should watch out for little vices or holes, because they can turn huge before you know it, if you don't attend to them. I'd go as far as to say that you don't even need to bother about them getting bigger. A little hole, vice, lapse in judgment, mistake, or anything you can mention is already big enough for a lot to damage to be done, even if it never stretches another millimetre. The hero Archilles, from ancient mythology, found this out. He was covered from head to toe in inpenetrable armour but a tiny aperture in his heel was enough to bring him down.

However strong we think our defenses are, it's dangerous to overestimate them, or underestimate the little holes. The Bible tells us to guard our thoughts. I've found that the tiniest negative or rebellious thought may be my undoing on any given day. An instant of jealousy, resentment, self-pity or worry may be enough for all my sweets to be stolen. The joy, peace, calmness, self-control and love I've tried to build up is under threat. Keeping an eye on what we think, making sure it's only uplifting, profitable and kind, isn't just a nice suggestion, but all tied up with keeping our treasures locked. We are told that Satan went away, to leave Jesus until a 'more opportune time.' Even though he never found one, we shouldn't think his minions will leave us alone when we're far more vulnerable to little holes. I'm taking this episode with the boys as a reminder to be far more wary than I am.

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