Thursday, February 3, 2011

Watch for ice

In case you’ve been unaware this week, it’s been cold here in Texas. Actually, it’s been cold almost everywhere thanks to a cold front that’s produced one of the worst winter storms in the last forty years according to some weather experts. For as much as I’ve disliked the cold we have here in San Angelo, it’s been nothing compared to some other places. Just a few hours northeast of us in Oklahoma City, they experienced near blizzard conditions with over ten inches of snow falling in a twenty-four hour period. Watching the video of the storm on the weather channel you could easily have thought you were looking at Chicago or Buffalo or some other northern city that regularly experiences such storms.

The video made me say a quick prayer for a good friend who is an orthopedic surgeon in Oklahoma City. I figured this meant he was working overtime dealing with the results of car wrecks and people slipping on the ice. Touching base with him later, he said that my fears were misplaced. There had been wrecks for sure. But this storm had been so bad that most people stayed home and those that did get out could only drive more than a few miles per hour. As a result, most wrecks resulted in nothing more than a dented fender and an embarrassed driver. I realized that while the weather conditions were far worse in Oklahoma City, the roads might actually be more dangerous here in San Angelo. Here, we could still drive fairly fast before we started to slide off the road. In the end, it’s the speed that kills.

I’m reminded once more how poorly we humans tend to evaluate danger. Something like a blizzard can be extremely dangerous, but usually, it is so threatening, we’re smart enough to hunker down and stay inside. A little ice, on the other hand, can be deceptively dangerous because we think it’s no big deal, until it is. In much the same way, it’s not usually the biggest sins that undo us, but the ones we didn’t consider dangerous to begin with. We think, oh, I’d never have an affair, but what harm does a little flirting do? We’re confident we’d never kill anyone, but we keep picking at an old grudge until hate fills our thoughts for another made in God’s image. We’d never steal something from a store, but we tolerate a covetness in our hearts that stifles our generosity. We keep speeding down the road unaware of the smallest patches of ice that are just waiting to send us spinning out of control.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus made such a big deal out of lust, and hate, and greed. These sins of the heart aren’t as visible as so many other “big” sins which is precisely why they prove to be so deadly to our souls. We keep speeding by them thinking they will do us no harm until they do leading our lives in directions we never meant to go. We need to slow down and think. We need to pause and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). The life you save may be your own.

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