“A Fool’s Mortification” (1)

An Allegory, by Mike Murrell

There once was a wise man travelling on an adventure who was tasked with delivering food to a church. Strolling along a path next to a lake of murky waters, he noticed a tiny little worm-like creature submerged in water with its head sticking out. It was waving back and forth as though he were dancing. After the creature grabbed the man’s attention, he began to speak, asking him for a bit of food, for the creature was desperately hungry. Though the food the man had was supposed to be for the village people, he figured that since it was just a tiny little worm, he’d only need to give him a tiny bit of food to be satisfied. He broke off a tiny little crumb of the food and fed it to the creature. Suddenly, the creature grew double in size! The creature then asked for more food, and the man fed him a little bit more, and it doubled in size again. This process continued, and as it grew, the creature’s appearance became more pleasing to the eyes and its voice more sweet to the ear. It would keep asking for more, for the creature’s appetite was never satisfied.

As the creature continued to grow, the man became more enchanted by it. The wise man soon realized that if this creature grew any more, it would be strong enough to kill him and take all his food. So, hesitantly he said, “No more.” The creature replied back, “Mooore.” The wise man replied more firmly. “No more!” The creature with anger screeched, “MOOOOORE!” So the man clenched his sword and yelled, “NO MORE!” Suddenly hundreds of creatures, all the same size and appearance poked their heads out of the water, all asking for more. As he drew out his sword, the ground shook and loud thunderous roars sounded through the lake. Out came a huge monster-like creature. What the man initially thought was a worm-like creature, was actually just a single strand of hair on this beast, and as the hair grew in size, so did the entirety of the beast. In one large gulp, the beast swallowed the wise man whole.

The wise man’s name was fool, for folly does not escape even the wisest of men. With great wisdom comes also the temptation to be wise in your own eyes. The beast’s name was sin, and the food the man fed him with was time. Had the man spent his time in the service of his church instead of on the fleeting pleasures of sin, he would not be stuck in the belly of the beast. Had he not fed the beast even once, the beast more quickly could have been slain. Yet with each succeeding moment, he thought he was in control of situation, making the beast twice as hard to slay. The fool says in his heart, “I will sin this one time and no more.” The fool says in his heart, “I will tread the paths of temptation just a little bit. It’s okay, I can get off the path when I feel temptation rising too much.” The fool says in his heart, “It’s okay, I can just easily repent afterwards.”

by Mike Murrell

Obstacles

A month ago we had a significant windstorm in the Grand Rapids area. Lightning, thunder, heavy rains and an isolated tornado were accompanied by high winds that leveled trees and knocked out power for two days or so.  I commuted to work that Friday morning alright, but when I went use the trails they were blocked with large trees that had fallen during the storm. I was unable to maneuver my bike around them. I tried one direction and couldn’t get through. I went the opposite way and faced the same problem. Finally I biked through Grandville and it ended up taking me longer to get home than I had anticipated.

This little experience is not that much different from our everyday lives. Sometimes God sends us trials and temptations that we find difficult to see our way through and get around. We often wonder why He sends us these things and if there is any escape from them. The answer to these questions is that God sends these things for our spiritual profit even if we don’t understand fully how they are going to work out for our good. God sends us trials, and gives us the grace to bear them. God provides an escape in the midst of the temptations of this life. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13).

In other words, no temptation is outside of God’s control. God will not allow us to fall into any unplanned temptation or trial because He has planned and continues to plan all things. Sometimes the way through our trials and temptations may take longer than we would like, just like my commute home did. We all have obstacles in life. For some it’s a disease such as diabetes or cancer. For others the obstacle is being confined to a wheelchair either from birth or due to an accident. For still others it’s depression, eating disorders or family issues. Others experience unemployment.  Whatever the problem, we may bring our prayers to God and trust in His protecting care. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God in him will I trust” (Ps. 91:1, 2). When we place our trust and reliance on Him, we will never be disappointed in Him no matter how bleak our circumstances seem to be. May God grant us this grace!

Kevin Rau

Samples from Seminary-You Can Flee

Genesis 39:7-12 records the well-known story in which Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife, who attempted to seduce him on a day-to-day basis. At seminary, one of the professors asked us students to provide the main idea of this passage. With a measure of confidence, I responded: “this passage calls us to flee fornication, even as Joseph did.” However, this was not the answer that the professor was looking for.

He went on to explain that other passages in Scripture more directly call young men to flee fornication (I Cor. 6:18) or to avoid of the immoral woman (Proverbs 5). While certainly one of the applications of this text is that we ought to run from such sexual temptations, the main application is different. This passage teaches us that by God’s grace young men can turn and flee from sexual temptations. Therefore, for those young men struggling with such sins this passage serves as a tremendous encouragement.

Joseph grew up in what we would call a broken home. Sins such as incest, murder, and deceit characterized his family. Joseph did not grow up surrounded by godly examples. In addition, Joseph was sold into slavery. If anyone could have justified sins of bitterness and hatred, surely it was Joseph. Furthermore, at the time when Potiphar’s wife made advances on Joseph, he was miles away from his family, the church, or anyone else who would hold him accountable. From our perspective, for a young and single man like Joseph to turn from such a temptation seems impossible… But he did.

This passage encourages all of us in our fight against sin, but especially those struggling with sexual sins. Joseph represents an outstanding example of the power of God’s grace working in a young person. Just as Joseph was able to obey the command to flee fornication, even though he was confronted by a seemingly impossible temptation, so too, can each of us.

Remember this, young person, the next time sexual desires begin to clamp down upon you with vice-like grips. Think of the power of God’s grace working in Joseph: an ordinary, depraved teenager from a broken home. God makes us able turn and run, just as Joseph did. Thus, you can flee. Hopefully this encourages you as much as it encourages me.

Matt Kortus