My three-year old daughter has quite a few fascinations. Some might say she is a bit obsessive! I have already written about one of these fascinations here: Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? Another of her fascinations (obsessions?!) is soap suds!
She has the grandest time in scooping up some of the soap suds out of the kitchen sink. She then runs around with the suds on her hand as if she were flying. I’m not sure, maybe the suds represent clouds to her, who knows?
She also has the habit of taking said suds and putting them in her hair, or even more so, in her little sister’s hair. There have been many times, unbeknownst to us, her little sister is walking around the house with suds all in her hair!
She also enjoys throwing the suds into the floor or against the wall. Basically, she takes something that is intended to clean and makes a big mess with it! (I’m sure there is a lesson in that by itself!)
Because, of some of the mischief she creates with the suds, we try to keep her out of them as much as possible. We at least try to keep her from scooping out too many handfuls at once.
The other day, I was washing some dishes and the suds were nice and high in the sink. I told her not to scoop out any of the suds. So, what does she do? She walks over to the edge of the kitchen sink, puts her chin on the edge and stares enchantingly at the suds. I watched her for several seconds, seeing what she would do.
There she stood. The whole time staring at the suds, just inches away from her face (and reach!). I reminded her once or twice not to scoop out any suds. She assured me she was not going to do that. Yet, she continued to stand and stare.
I found the scene quite comical. It was almost as if she were torturing herself; to be so close and be prohibited from taking part. It was almost as if she had the mentality that if she couldn’t touch them, then she would be as close to touching them as she could possibly be!
Observing her in her actions, as often is the case, taught me a lesson about myself and my fellow humans. We often do much the same thing don’t we? God forbids some action or thought, and what do we do? We stand as close to it as we possibly can, trying our darndest not to give in and do it. We put ourselves in a precarious situation.
Instead of following Joseph’s example and fleeing the scene of temptation, we straddle up next to it and stare wantingly at it. This is not exactly a recipe for success! We are behind the eight ball before we even really start. We place ourselves on the brink and it doesn’t take much work on the part of the Enemy to topple us over into whatever sin it may be.
It reminds me of those snake handlers, or whatever they are, who stare right at the cobra and proceed to lean in and give the asp a kiss. This is what some would call playing with fire! If you play with it long enough, sooner or later, you will get burned! Sooner or later the cobra will strike. Sooner or later, if you stand on the brink long enough, you will fall to the temptation.
The old Enemy is crafty. That’s exactly what Genesis tells us of the serpent. He was more subtle, crafty than the other beasts of the field. It is not that the others did not have it; but, he had it to an even greater degree. What exactly does it mean though? The Hebrew word is used throughout the Old Testament. It can be translated elsewhere as a skill, wisdom. In fact, it is used often in Proverbs.
Basically, to make it practical, this subtlety, craftiness is a skill of life. It is wisdom at its best. You see, wisdom in the Hebrew Bible isn’t about philosophy; rather, it is practical. It is about knowing how to live life in the right way (i.e. pleasing and honoring to God). So, this craftiness is the skill of knowing where the traps are in life, the dangers and pitfalls and thus, knowing how to avoid them and travel life’s road safely.
The Enemy, being very crafty himself, also knows where these pitfalls are; of course, his purpose is not to help people avoid them, but to stumble and fall right into their gaping, open mouths. He is there to lead them to the brink and then give them a slight nudge and watch them fall helplessly.
We only help his work when we, like my three-year old, position ourselves readily on the brink of the precipice. The desire, in our fallen natures, is there in our heart. Our natural selves want to rebel against the commands of Christ. We want to fall over headlong into the abyss for the slight moment of pleasure and gratification. After all, sin is enjoyable for a season.
But, pits are nasty things. It’s not so much the fall that gets you as it is the sudden stop at the end! Pits are treacherous. They can maim and harm . . . even kill. It is far safer to stick to the well-trodden path. The thing we think will bring so much enjoyment and fun, is really something that brings destruction and harm into our lives.
God is not a killjoy. God knows what’s really in the pit. He knows what is harmful and what is good for us. When we venture to the pit and willfully disobey, we are saying that we are more informed than God is! Yet, we do it at our peril.
The next time the soap suds are calling your name . . . just keep on walking!