Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fried like a worm on a summer sidewalk.

You just can’t convince me that all of these worms were suicidal. What could make a worm so miserable, so disenchanted with their existence, so despairing of all hope? Bad soil? Lawn mowers? Post-sprinkler bird attacks?

No. I refuse to believe that any worm wakes up (assuming worms sleep) plotting his own demise. So there’s another reason for this large number of barbecued annelids. My guess is that they didn’t know what hit them: they slowly crawled in the wrong direction, disregarding the buddy rule and heedless to the heat and exposure of their path. Theirs is not a pretty death. They’re permanently mashed into the sidewalk, flattened beyond a relative’s recognition by a post-mortem shoe or tire.

Perhaps these fried worms aspired to be the first in their community to make it across the sidewalk alive. Or perhaps they were blissfully ignorant, or curious, or distracted, or negligent. Whatever their reason for being so reckless, they caught fire before they could turn and save themselves.

On a hot afternoon walk this past week, I took mercy on a worm writhing in the throes of near-death on the sidewalk—I kicked him back into the grassy lawn from which he came. I guess in a weird way I saw myself in him. Bear with me as I use these fried worms allegorically, but I see a lesson to be learned here. How many times have I made a series of small but bad choices, or even just lost track of where I was and what I was supposed to be doing, only to find myself in sin’s sizzling path?

Our heart naturally leads us off course: it is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9). Kris Lundgaard writes in The Enemy Within, “Wherever you go, whatever you do, the law of sin is with you step for step—in the best you do, in the worst you do. How often do you think about the fact that you carry around in you a deadly companion?”

The author of Hebrews warns us: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened [or fried or smashed] by sin’s deceitfulness.”

I wonder if the sidewalk worm would ever say with the apostle Paul, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I hate this sidewalk (sin), but here I am, sizzling in its heat!

Oh, but “God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything” (1 John 3:20)! He has given us His Spirit, His Word, and His Church so that we keep from frying on that sidewalk. “He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). He has provided us a lush, lavish, beautiful, grassy lawn in Himself—and the more we know and love Him, the more we hate the sidewalk of sin.