Two True Fables: Part Two
(To read Part One, click here)
Nearly every 60s family had a turtle. Some flushed theirs down the toilet (resulting in an outbreak of sewer-dwelling ninjas). But our neighbors the Cartingers couldn’t bear to part with their too-big-to-flush tortoise Toby, and he eventually grew to be the size of a dinner plate.
There was no containing him. He would wander incessantly, so the threat of stepping on him was ever present–he was visibly nervous about living amid a herd of sneakers. So Mr. Cartinger drilled a hole in the corner of Toby’s shell and tied a length of hot-pink yarn to it. The other end he tied to the foot of the stairs.
Toby was now free to roam, and whenever anyone wanted him they would simply “follow the yarn.” Things went swimmingly. One moment Toby would be on the third stair and an hour later he’d be on the fourth stair (I said he wandered, I didn’t say quickly).
One day, while vacuuming, Mrs. Cartinger heard a series of bangs upstairs. She stood absently vacuuming the same spot at the foot of the stairs as the noise moved from room to room. Suddenly, as if wearing a tiny-but-powerful jet pack, Toby zoomed into view at the top of the stairs, then shot down them at roughly eight million miles an hour…
And crashed into the vacuum cleaner. Mrs. C. stared uncomprehendingly, and then turned off the device. The little reptile settled to the ground as his horrified human mom realized the vacuum cleaner had spooled up the end of his tether!
There was nothing left but a shell. No legs, no head, no… Oh, calm down, he was fine–he was hiding inside his shell. Amazingly, he was uninjured, and came out just…
six weeks later.
Sadly, most religious folks are Tobys or Fat Cats:
Tobys are legalists. They live in fear of God. Not the Old Testament kind (awe), but the fear of Godzilla kind. They tether themselves to religious laws and hide behind a shell of religion, all the while hoping to avoid the Creator they claim to worship. They live in fear of being stepped on. They see God as distant, mercurial, and dangerous. They know of sin, but not of grace.
Fat Cats are liberalists. Their doctrine is not fear, but presumption. They have no tether. In fact, they have no authentic connection to God. If they pray at all, it’s to butter him up (“I love you soooo much!”). They know of grace, but not of sin.
Both miss out. Toby the Turtles miss God’s rest and comfort. Fat Cats miss his protection from sin, from themselves. (In his attempts to connive chicken, Fat Cat regularly missed out on the de-boned chicken my mom lovingly prepared for our other cats!).
Two things we can never fully understand: the depth of our sin, and the depth of God’s grace. Only God can reveal them to us. No secondary source, no spiritual teacher, not even God’s written Word, can fully reveal them to us. Only God himself can.
So go to the source. Go to the Shepherd and learn to know his voice. Don’t be a turtle, don’t be a fat cat…
Be a sheep.
“My sheep know my voice, and I know theirs. And I give them eternal life.” ~John 10:27