Do Not Harass The Alligators!

Recently my wife and I had a wonderful visit with our son and daughter-in-law in Augusta, Georgia.  They both are medical professionals serving the Army and Veterans Affairs—I could not be prouder of both of them for their professionalism and compassion!  They are also very fun to be around 😊

 We were able to see many of the sites around Augusta (beautiful area by the way), including a quick drive-by of the Augusta National Golf Club. I was able to get a picture of a fence surrounding it with what I believe to be the club house roof behind it.  If you attempt to get close to the course, security guards will “politely” ask you to leave. Apparently, they do not want someone like me who has held a golf club trying to borrow a green jacket. 

 Despite that disappointment, we still had a great time.  Our son took us to the Phinzy Swap Campus where you literally walk on a wooden bridge through a swamp—it was beautiful in a swampy way. As we approached the park, I saw the sign that accompanies this post and had to take a picture.  It made me chuckle, thinking “do people really need to be reminded not to harass the alligators?” Well, apparently so or the sign would not exist.

 The next day it was time to fly home and I do a lot of thinking at 35,000 feet; my mind went to that sign “Do Not Ever Feed or Harass the Alligators”.  I do not know much about alligators but did remember reading that their jaw muscles exist to bite and grip their prey in order to perform their “death roll” a term I will not elaborate on!  However, that is all I needed to remember to know not to harass the alligators. If I feed into or harass an alligator, I am inviting it into my life and ultimately am taking an invitation to the “death roll” as the main course.

 What are the “alligators” we face? Lust? Overindulgence? Greed? Apathy? Vindictiveness? Envy? Pride?  To me it is anything keeping us from growing our relationship with God and with other people.  Paul tells us clearly about the “alligators” we face, those things determined to place us in a “death roll” in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

 Do not feed them. Do not harass them.  Turn to the One who defeats them!

 

Cleaned…Sanitized…Purified

It amazes me and gives me joy the lessons I learn from the kids as I work as an elementary school custodian. Earlier this week I was walking down the hall with two bottles of hand cleaner. A fourth grader asked me what the difference of the two. I explained one is a hand soap and the other is a hand sanitizer and again Ariel asked me again the difference. I had to think a bit and explained they both basically do the same thing, but the soap needs to be washed off with water and the sanitizer does not. Being quite inquisitive, she persisted and asked if the sanitizer is washed off does it still work?

At this point I am thinking “I’m not a chemist, how would I know!” But I just told her I think it would be, but it is supposed to be convenient when you need to clean your hands and don’t have access to water. Only through the logic of a child she said, “Well it doesn’t make sense to me; if it’s good without water it should be even better with water.”

As is often the case when I have deep conversations with these students, she gave me a hug and went on her carefree way! But our conversation stayed with me throughout the night. I contemplated how often do we complicate things? Do we really need two when one is the answer? Sometimes we seek alternatives and sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad.

This conversation reminded me of when I submitted myself to Jesus Christ to be my personal Lord and Savior; He did not clean me, or sanitize me, He purified me! I kept trying to figure out how or why. 1 John 3:3 tells us “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” What is this “hope” John writes about? When we turn to God, we are His children and we become like Him.

Maybe you don’t, but I struggle being like Him—I strive to be, but I often fail. When I try to figure out how to do “better” for God I usually fail because I’m thinking about cleaning, sanitation, and am missing purification. The bath or shower or hand dispensers will clean and sanitize us; we need to focus and draw closer to what purifies us. I trust the grace and forgiveness of the Cross to purify me.