stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

I remember nearly crashing during motorcycle ride home one Saturday night. The ride was fatal for a raccoon who crossed paths with me. I was coming home from a friend’s house, and I was pretty nervous about deer. We lived in the most rural part of anywhere I have ever lived, and deer were aways on the side of the road, running across the road, or lying dead on the side of the road.  It was pitch black, there were no street lights, and visibility was very limited. I was constantly scanning the area in front of me for deer. Meanwhile, a raccoon sneaked out into the road. I didn’t see it at first, because I was too focused on the possibility of deer, and my eyes were set to a level where I would see deer eyes before they came out in front of me. The raccoon narrowly avoided being run over by my front tire, keeping his and my blood off of me. He wasn’t very smart, though. He doubled back right under my back tire. It caused me to fishtail back and forth a little. I thought I was going to join him, bleeding on the pavement, but I was fortunate to stay upright. All this, because I was focused on not hitting a bigger animal.

Because I am a pastor and constantly looking for new material, illustrations, and anecdotes, I spiritualized the experience. I was thinking about how I have lived my life the same way. I keep my eyes out for the “big sins.” I focus on not doing certain things that would completely derail my life, and take pride in the fact that I haven’t done them. Meanwhile, I slowly start fading away in other areas of my life. I might miss spending time with God one day, but I don’t mind. It wasn’t a big deal. It’s not like I stole anyone’s money.  Next day, I might do it again. Next thing you know, I haven’t really spent good time with God for a month, maybe more. I didn’t do anything else major.  I didn’t steal, kill, or cheat on my wife.  I didn’t do whatever you find to be a major sin, but God hates all sin, anyway. Doesn’t matter. I am a spiritual mess. I’ve crashed and burned, because I ran over something small that caused me to fishtail.  There were no spiritual deer in the road, which I was watching out for all along with didn’t boundaries and failsafes to protect me. But I did run over a spiritual raccoon that I wasn’t even watching for.

Sometimes it’s what we consider the little things that keep us away from God. We don’t see much of what we do as too extreme, comparing our menial sins to what someone else does.  But Jesus didn’t just die for adultery, murder, child abuse, etc. He also died for our laziness, our moments of disbelief, our selfishness, our occasional curse words, and everything else we think isn’t that big of a deal. If He cared enough to die for it, maybe we should care enough to keep our eyes out for it. We should be wary everyday of what is going on in our lives, and we should keep constant watch for everything –  the big and the small – that would keep us from fully enjoying and living out our relationship with Christ.

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