THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"  

Luke 15:4-6

May 30, 2007

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Many years ago, I saw a church youth group perform a skit called “Sin in a box”. There was a big box decorated really pretty on the outside, but had a sign on the front that said “Sin”. Someone walked by the box and took a peek inside and started to walk away, but then went back for a second look. They started out by just touching the box, then they put one foot inside. As people walked by, they would try to hide the box behind them. Eventually they ended up standing with both feet inside the box, and couldn't get out because they were stuck. People would come by and offer to help, but the person inside the box would refuse. They would make comments such as, “I can get out anytime I want” or “It's not too bad being stuck inside the box”, etc. Everywhere that person tried to go, the “box of sin” would hinder them and keep them from moving forward. Finally they reached a place of desperation and called on Jesus, who freed them from the box. The message was that sin may look attractive on the outside, but if you don't walk away, it will entice you a little bit at a time until you are trapped.

A while back, I was cleaning the shed in our backyard. I was needing to get in and out of our garage for supplies, so had left the back door standing open. I finished the job and was putting the trash can back into the garage, when I heard a rustling sound. We have had a lot of baby squirrels in our backyard this year, and my first thought was that one of them had gotten into our garage. I was dreading the thought of trying to find it and chase it outside. I walked towards the front of our garage and saw that it wasn't a squirrel at all. We have some sticky pads lying on the floor, beside the two front doors, to trap spiders. A small bird had flown in, and apparently was trying to eat one of the spiders on the sticky pad. One of the bird's feet had gotten stuck on that sticky pad. It was flapping it's wings, trying it's best to get loose. I opened one of the front doors and slid the pad outside so if the bird got free, it would not be flying around in our garage. I got a stick to hold the sticky pad down with, while I tried to help free the bird. The more I tried to help, the more the bird fought. It got one of it's wings stuck, which I managed to get loose, then ended up with both feet stuck. I couldn't seem to make the bird understand that I was only try to help, and if it would stop struggling then I could get it loose. I felt horrible! My intention was not to cause the bird harm or pain, but to set it free.

I have since thought about how that bird is a lot like we are as people. We find ourselves in situations or circumstances where we feel trapped. It may be caused by choices we have made, or brought on by someone else, or just life. Others may try to help us, but we refuse, thinking we can handle it on our own. The more people reach out to us, the more we struggle and become more and more entrapped. A sense of hopelessness and despair can envelope us to the point where we think, “What's the use”, and turn to a variety of things to try and make us feel better. Where we once may have only had a “foot” stuck, we now find ourselves with both “feet” and a “wing” stuck. Yet we fight against the help of family and friends, and refuse to call on God. During those times, if we could only see that God is reaching down to free us. He's not trying to bring us harm, but only wants to bring us healing and wholeness.

Other times, it may not necessarily be a “sin” that keeps us trapped. At least not sin in the sense of how we perceive and define it. Many people are a slave to pride. They would much rather go through life with a “sticky pad” stuck to their foot, than to ever ask for or admit that they need help. That bird was flapping its wings and trying it's best to get off the ground. I believe if it could have possibly made it into the air, the bird would much rather have flown away with that sticky pad dangling from its foot, than to have my help.

I have known people just as stubborn. They are willing to do anything for anybody, but refuse to allow anyone to ever do anything for them. They will get frustrated at someone for not calling them and asking for help. On the other hand, when someone offers to do something for them, they will adamantly refuse it. They are so independent and prideful, that they can't admit that they need help, or allow someone to do something for them. They don't seem to realize that the same willing spirit that they have to reach out and do for others, is also in the heart of others to do for them.

We can justify our actions and say that the Bible says that it's more blessed to give than to receive. It's true, that we should have the heart of a giver and not always wanting to be a recipient. Yet the Bible also talks about us being a body and needing one another.

There have been times when I've had a need and needed help from someone. But there have also been times when I've seen a need, and been the one to give. I'm not talking about just a financial or material need. This also compasses giving and receiving comfort, counsel, prayer and so many other things. If we are always the ones to be on the giving end and never accept help from others, then we won't ever know what it's like for those who are on the receiving end.

Galatians 6:2 says to “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” When Jesus was on the earth, He didn't do everything by or for Himself. Jesus taught and ministered and traveled and healed people, yet He didn't go alone and He accepted help from the disciples and many others. Do we think we are better than Him, that we don't need others? We all have burdens to bear from time to time, and it is our responsibility to not only support and reach out to others when they need help, but to also allow others to help bear our burdens. When we resist help from others, then we are also withholding a blessing for that person.

I think Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 best sums it up. It says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

It's easy to hang around the box of sin. After all, as long as you don't get in, what's the harm? It might be as simple as hanging out with old friends. Or maybe watching an old favorite TV show. Those aren't sins. The problem is if the friend tries to remind us of past sins like they were good. Or if the TV show is unhealthy or encourages some sin. Then, it becomes like a sticky pad. It can get us in a habit of thinking about that old sin we gave up. And most dangerous, thinking about how pretty the box was and how much we miss it. Second Peter 2:22 refers to that as like a dog who returns to its vomit. He ate it once, and liked it. And even though it tore him up inside, he still wants it again.

ON THE MENEWE:

German Chocolate Upside Down Cake

1 ½ cup coconut ½ cup chopped pecans

Mix together and put in bottom of cake pan.

Prepare German Chocolate cake mix according to directions. Pour over coconut and pecans.

1 stick butter, soft 8 oz. cream cheese, soft 1 lb. powered sugar

Mix together and put spoonfuls of this mixture over the cake mix. Bake at 350 for 40 to 48 minutes. Loosen edges from pan and invert on platter while still warm.

RAM-BLING IDEAS:

LAUGHING LAMBS:

When Jon and I were dating, we went to the movies one evening. It was dark out when the movie was over, and we were talking as we walked out to the car. We stepped off the curb onto the street that separated the theater from the parking lot. There was a car coming and I looked over to make sure it was going to stop. The next thing I knew, I was on down on the pavement. There was a pothole and I had stepped right on the edge of it. Jon was grabbing my arm trying to pull me up and looking at me like, “What are you doing?” I tried to stand up and to my embarrassment, I couldn't walk. I had twisted my ankle. I crawled back over to the sidewalk and waited for Jon to run and get the car. I had sprain my ankle and had a cut on my knee from falling on the jagged asphalt. What aggravated me the most was that I had just bought a new pair of jeans and was wearing them for the first time. The jagged asphalt sliced through my jeans and made a big hole in the knee. Still yet today, when we are walking across certain parking lots or down stairs, Jon will hold onto me like he's helping a little old lady and remind me to be careful.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:

We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. -Frederick Keonig

May the Lord bless and protect you, may the Lord's face radiate with joy because of you. May He be gracious to you, show you His favor and give you His peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

We love and appreciate you so much!

Loretta & Jon

www.graysheep.com