Always, Always, SOMETIMES a Quick Learner

I heard this on the radio (by Keith Green) while laying in bed on a Sunday morning in college. I got to church THAT day…

The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you’ve been so well fed,
Jesus rose from the grave,
And you!
You can’t even get out of bed!

It’s easy to fall asleep in the light. 

I was in Mozambique – Eastern coast of Africa – in Inhambane a few years ago. I was there with a team to drill a water well and help start a disciple-making movement. Tremendous trip.

I was with the local missionary’s daughter – call her “M” – 10 years old. She’s leading me through the market in town – my interpreter. I was looking to pick something up for my daughters. She’s quite impressive – this little girl leading me around, asking questions of the vendors – grown men and women – doing my bartering for me. Very confident for a little person.

We looked at bracelets, necklaces and other regular stuff. We also looked at some fish – whole fish – half fish – even half fish with the head attached. Mm mm good. No refrigeration so flies and stench are prevalent.

But the big show was the shrimp.

As we continued our righteous quest for most excellent souvenirs we passed mountains of shrimp – hoards of shrimp – shrimp in heaping piles! The lack of refrigeration created a memorable aroma unlike any other. “M” commented on the odor and in jest I said something along the lines of “it’s fantastic!” and drew a deep breath, completely filling my lungs with the contaminated air.

I almost threw up in my mouth.

Few times in my life have I been so repulsed by a smell. It left a wickedly wretched taste (TASTE mind you!) in my mouth that went all the way down my throat. Truly truly rank. Lucky for me our next stop was an ice cream shop. It took all the ice cream I could eat to get rid of the taste.

I’m always, always, always, SOMETIMES a quick learner. I will never breathe deeply in a shrimp market again. Never.

But in the same way, how often do we breathe deeply the sin that surrounds us, and it has no affect on us?

In Amos 4, God was trying to get His people to return to Him. They had forgotten the Lord and when they worshiped, did so in the vilest ways possible (false gods and temple prostitutes). He tried to bring them back. He says, “I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils.” But still they didn’t return.

I want sin to be a stench that drives me away from it and to God. I want sin to make me physically ill. “David…you’re being ridiculous. That will never happen!” Really? You think not?

In college (the ’80s), I turned on cable TV one night, and a very popular, very hip motion picture that’s supposed to be very cool was on. It’s one you’d recognize but I won’t name it because what happens next could happen with so much of what comes out of Hollywood these days.

I watched five minutes of it.

My soul hurt.  And I actually did feel physically ill.

As I think back on it, the disgust I felt was not unlike what I felt as I drew the shrimp stench in deeply…except worse – it was in my soul – not my mouth.

The darkness of sin can make you physically ill. BUT…you can make yourself immune to it.

My guess is this: if I breathe deeply the pungent odor of bad shrimp every day, pretty soon I’d get so used to it, that it wouldn’t even bother me.

In the same way…if I breathe deeply the sin in the culture every day, being entertained by it, enjoying it, even embracing it, very quickly what would emotionally scar an innocent child, will have no effect on me. My heart will become hardened.

I don’t want a hard heart. I want the innocence of a child…to be nauseated by those things that nauseate the Lord…

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. Hebrews 3:13 (NLT)

I want a heart that is hardened against sin and tender toward the Lord. That’s my prayer today. Amen.

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