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The Stanislaus County Fair provided me with wonder. Attractions included farm life, blinking lights, people watching opportunities, the glory of an evening concert, and one unforgettable hot fudge sundae.
Fifteen minutes before the concert started, I darted toward the ice cream stand. A blinking neon cone made it easy to find through swarms of people. My insides twisted with the decision before me. A frozen banana, a cheesecake dipped in chocolate sprinkled with nuts, a plain vanilla cone, or a hot fudge sundae. What to do?
Like a little girl in a candy store (or a big girl at an ice cream stand) I placed my order and stepped to the side while it was being processed. Folks of all shapes and sizes huddled in. Vanilla cones filled the hands of toddlers and retired couples shared towering banana splits as the forming line held anxious stares.
What happened next sent me on an unforgettable ride. As soon as the dessert was handed to me, it began to melt. My masterpiece could not survive triple-digit weather. The two vanilla cones I held in my right hand, one for my daughter and the other for my niece, kept me from devouring the sundae I held in my left. But with eyes as big as saucers, I was not about to give up on my new cherry-topped friend.
A couple of steps through the crowd, and I knew I was in a world of trouble. The three napkins provided couldn't even keep the sticky mess from running down my hand. Too much ice cream, fudge, whipped cream and nuts were crammed into a small Styrofoam cup. Long and careful strides back to my seat would not reverse this madness.
By the time I arrived, my entire hand was covered in glop. Streams of mess ran continuously down my arm, catching the attention of everybody around me. I was stunned — I did not know what to do. After a feeble attempt at tidying things up, I did what anybody else would have done. I dug in.
As I joined the giggles behind me, I reflected on times in my life when I think I am making a good choice about something. All of the warning signs are there and my conscience begins melting, leaving an undeniable mess. But do I throw the idea out? Not always. There are times when I am bent and determined on making it work — even after God has encouraged me to start cleaning up the mess.
"... Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you remain unclean?""(NASB)
Later on that night, I thought about the messes I’ve made along my Christian walk. An old pattern of thinking leaves a trail of brokenness; a habit wreaks havoc in places that once held compassion. And then, of course, there is the dangerous relationship, where compromise regrettably becomes my idol.
Sin can look pretty desirable on the outside, promising loads of sweet tantalizing enjoyment. But at the end of the day, if I have not made my heart right with God, only a sticky residue of guilt remains. In order to repent, I must let go of what the gloppy mess promised in the first place.
It was a lie.
God is in the business of making all things clean and new. Sin is not fun. Sin separates us from God. Be careful about what you pour your thoughts and energy into. Commit to tossing that sticky mirage — and settle in on God's best.
"... let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."(NIV)
Copyright © Joanne Reese, used with permission.
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