“Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?” Proverbs 6:27-28
I should have been more careful. I should have known better. I have a long history of cutting firewood and being around the woods. For the better part of 17 or 18 years, wood was our primary, and sometimes only, source of heat. It all started back in LaMonte, Missouri and continued when we moved to Cobden, Illinois…in fact, that is where it really became a part of our lives. We lived in a large Victorian home and our heat was whatever was piled in the driveway. So, with the help of a very good friend named Gerry, virtually every Saturday we would go and “cut wood.
As the years went by, I learned a lot about safety in the woods. I remember the first time I used a chain saw back in LaMonte. The guys told me to be careful and never pull the saw toward you. Yeah, well, one of the first things I did was pull the saw toward me (call me a slow learner) and nick my leg. I learned about how to notch a tree, sharpen a chain and how to load and stack wood. I learned a lot. But one thing that I never paid much attention too was poison ivy. While I never intentionally rolled in it, it seemed for the most part I was one of those lucky people who it didn’t affect. Well, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I was wrong.
It turns out, I guess, that I was indeed lucky but not in the way that I thought. I was lucky that it never “got me” and somehow, someway, recently it did. We were sitting around the other day, and I was wearing shorts. I noticed on my left leg several (five to be exact) small red dots. I told Judy, “Look at these bites on my leg.” They were in random places, and I thought that a mosquito or two had decided to have lunch. Well, again, I was wrong.
In a very short time it became evident I had somehow, someway, gotten into some poison ivy. Those five small dots grew into narrow strips of angry, red, raised, skin and it was very apparent that what I thought couldn’t get me…did. Now as outbreaks go, this one wasn’t very bad but for a guy who never had it, for a guy who thought it wouldn’t, couldn’t get him, it was bad enough. It itched, then itched some more, and then just for fun…itched some more. So far, and notice that means it is still going on, I have managed not to scratch it, but I will be very glad when this is in the rearview mirror.
The crazy thing is I really don’t know when or where it happened. We have a little bit in our yard but even though I didn’t think I was allergic, I was also pretty careful. I hadn’t been in the real woods, but one thing is for sure…I got too close somehow, somewhere. And, because of that I have some pretty unpleasant circumstances. Maybe I wasn’t careful enough. Maybe I thought it might get you but not me. Maybe I didn’t look close enough in the flowerbeds around our yard. All that really doesn’t matter I suppose. What does matter is that it got me. It.Got.Me.
Did you know that sin, those things that God and culture both warn us about, can and will get us? Did you know that even though we think it will happen to someone else and not us…it can…it will? Did you know that regardless of how “innocent” we think we might be…the consequences are the same? Judy always told me about poison ivy. Being a garden person, she told me, “Leaves of three…let it be.” I clearly heard her but frankly, since it seemed I couldn’t get it, I just didn’t pay close attention. Now, oh yes now, I know differently. We would do well to treat sin the same way.
The Bible, in the Old Testament part, asks a really good question. In the Book of Proverbs, it asks if a man can hug fire to his chest and not be burned? Of course, the obvious answer is no, you can’t. But it turns out the writer isn’t talking about fire…he is talking about sin. Mess with sin and you are going to get burned and with the burn comes the consequences and with the consequences come misery. It is true with poison ivy, and it is true with sin.
Well, the bottom line is regardless of my long history with not getting poison ivy, I now have a new history and trust me I am going to be a lot more careful around my three-leaf adversary. Green and lush or not…it is not my friend…and neither is that thing we often run to…sin. By the way, if you stumble into poison ivy there are a few things that can help with the itch. And, if you stumble into sin, well, His grace is more than enough. Just ask the Heavenly Father and He will be more than willing to help. You might say, “He’s got this.”