We had finally received some much needed rain here in this very dry and hot Kansas summer. It was more than just a few disappointing drops, too. We actually had enough rain to drip off the leaves on the trees and in our flower and vegetable gardens. Enough rain that I had a reprieve from my watering duties and could let nature do her work for a few days. Enough to more than just settle the dust – we actually had some mud amongst the vegetables. The cooler temperature, the damp smell of the earth, and the grass greening up a little were all very welcome to every two and four legged creature around as well as to every struggling plant.
I allowed a couple days to go by after the rains before I walked out to the vegetable garden to check on things there. Sure enough, the rain had done her good work. I stood there looking at the cucumbers, squash, and okra that needed to be picked. Then I looked at the soil, still dark and wet from the recent moisture. I slipped on my garden shoes and decided to give it a try. Stepping over the wire fence, I gingerly put my weight down on the soil as I stood inside the garden. Not too bad, I thought, and so I walked carefully over to the cucumbers to pick the ones that were plump and ripe. Next, the squash – not many there but a few. Time for the okra, in the very back of the garden. As I walked I noticed that the garden was muddier than I thought. “Well, I’m already in here,” I reasoned, and so I continued on. It can’t be that bad. But with each step I noticed that my shoes were feeling heavier and heavier with the buildup of mud, and I could see my footprints that I was leaving behind in the soft soil. I told myself that I would get out soon, after I picked the okra, and so I trudged on through the mud. When I finally stepped back out onto the grass, the bottoms of my shoes were covered in mud that needed to be cleaned off. There was no mistaking where I had been, and the mark that my decision left on my shoes was messy and ugly indeed.
Our lives are full of decisions in so many areas. Many times the way that we should go is very clear and other times we’re just not sure. Whether it’s an actual place or event, or if it’s an attitude of the heart, our prayer should be as David’s was in Psalm 143:8 when he said, “……teach me the way in which I should walk.” Before we realize the danger, we can easily step over that fence and venture out into the messy areas of life or thoughts that will only mire us down. What may have even appeared to be right or to be justified soon turns into a trap that weighs us down. Wrong friendships or relationships; ungodly entertainments and activities; carnal or impure thoughts – all will leave a residue in our lives that builds up until finally we are having to bear the consequences of our decisions. Our friends and family can without doubt be able to tell where we have been because the effects are so evident in our lives and in our attitudes. Thankfully, God will clean us up as we ask for His forgiveness but often we will still bear the messy marks of our decisions. So the next time we stand at that fence in our lives and have some decisions to make, may we say with the prophet in Hosea 14:9: “…….for the ways of the Lord are right and the righteous will walk in them.” Show us Your ways as we seek Your face, Lord, and keep us from venturing out into the muddy messes that are all around us.