Good… Don’t Start
Every once in a while, something happens that causes me to actually laugh out loud. Well, today was one of those days. I ran an errand to a shaver repair business near the Broad Ripple part of the city, on my way back from another errand I had to run.
I decided to stop as it was time to replace the foil (the top of the shaver) and the blades which I have had for many years. Now I’m not an electric shaver kind of a guy, but when I am on the road, it is much easier than lugging shaving cream, razor, brush and all the other stuff I use when I shave at home. So it has kind of become habit to throw the shaver in my travel kit and make it easy on myself when I am away from home.
Anyway, I have been deciding what to do about replacing the blades. I was recently given one of the new ultra modern Panasonic shavers, and while it is pretty advanced, I actually like my old shaver a little better. So, I made the decision to go for it and repair my old unit. Probably a little crazy, especially with a $300 state of the art shaver sitting in the drawer.
But the story tonight is not about a shaver – it’s about what happened at the shop. After I had transacted my business and left the store, I was stopped by a middle aged woman who asked me for a “light”. I replied that I didn’t have a light as I didn’t smoke – and then she said it – “Good – don’t start…..” Now I’m 59 years old and can’t remember the last time that I was admonished to do, or not do, something. And this lady wasn’t kidding – she was dead serious. I turned around and couldn’t help but break out laughing. She must have thought that I was nuts. Of course, I thought the same thing about her.
After telling her I wouldn’t start smoking, I headed out on my way, already knowing what tonight’s post would be about. The truth of the matter is that I used to smoke – years ago. I started when I spent the summer in Germany the year I was 17 and smoking was a way of life in the small southern Bavarian city I lived in during the summer between my senior year in high school and my first year of college.
I finally quit smoking cigarettes on December 31, 1979. There’s no question that I was hooked and at the time, it was more than I could stand to think about kicking the habit unless it was a really big occasion. So I those the end of the decade to make it happen. Thank God, it worked.
For a time, I continued to smoke my pipe, but eventually, I gave that up as well and in all honesty, have been better off without the habit. But I have to be careful – because I know my tendencies; if I was to start smoking again, even one, I am sure that I would be hooked all over again. So I don’t dare take that first step – it’s a slippery slope and I don’t want my old habits back.
Come to think of it, it’s the same with God. We start out as sinners and hopefully, at some point in our life, we are introduced to Jesus Christ and how we can transform our lives by accepting the free gift of eternal life offered by a commitment to Him. With that commitment, we can expect that sin will still happen, but it will not be our default way of life. In other words, from a theological perspective, sin is the exception rather than the rule once we have been born again.
But I have known a number of people who, after their initial commitment to live a more dedicated, holy life, fall back into old patterns of sin and all but renounce their life with Christ. It’s then that I want to scream, “Don’t Start!” Because once you take that first step, the ugliness of sin becomes a very slippery slope. It doesn’t seem that bad to slip a little at first, but then the sins multiply and before you know it, you are trapped in a pattern of sin, moving further and further away from Christ’s desire for your life.
That’s the time when it is important to repent and get back into the patterns of a God centered life. Now I’m not talking about losing your salvation, mind you. But I am saying that it is easy to move off the path of righteousness and fall into bad habits. That’s when you need to pray harder than ever that God will step in and help you regain control of your life.
The verse for tonight is from Acts 3:19,” Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” Even if you are a devoted Christ follower, you can still repent and make sure that you are headed in the right direction. My encouragement this evening is that God wants to stay close to you and to help you become closer to Him. But God doesn’t like sin and if you engage in bad behavior, you can’t expect God to follow you into darkness. It just won’t work. My prayer is that you will stay in the light and make sure that you don’t start the slippery slide back into a life of sin – so “don’t start.” Grace and peace…