Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mired in the Muck

After an extremely dry fall and winter, it finally rained. All day the water poured from the heavens in a steady stream. Water ample enough to soak the earth and fill the streams refreshed the dried landscape.

I waited for a couple of days after the rainfall to venture out to the nature trails. Many of the trails are sandy, so I hoped it wouldn’t be too muddy for my walk. Fortunately, most of the trails were dry enough to walk without totally coating my shoes in mud.

 Occasionally, though, I passed those dark curves in the pathway where the sun rarely shines, and where there is no sand. In these wide, shaded places the pathway was nothing but dark, oozy mud. Carefully, I skirted around those muddy quagmires, stepping on grassy spots, twigs or rocks to keep from sinking into the muck.

As I maneuvered around the muddy places, I remembered a time, as a little girl, when the mud was oh, so attractive! Walking in my rubber rain boots, I loved to squish through the mud, thoroughly enjoying the gooshy, slippery black mess. On one occasion, however, I learned not to stomp through the mud.

On that day I stepped into the middle of an especially gooey mud puddle, and stepping forward, I heard a loud sucking noise. My foot refused to move, for my boot was totally captured by the squishy mud. When I struggled to release my boot, my foot came out of my shoe and my boot and I found myself in the middle of the mud puddle with neither boot nor shoe. My feeble little-girl strength was not enough to extricate my boot and shoe from its muddy confines. Fortunately for me, my older, stronger brother (after a good laugh at my expense) pulled my boot out of the mud and I was able to continue home. Once there, I had a muddy mess to clean up before I could step one foot in the house. That day I learned not to walk through mud puddles.

Adults generally steer clear of the mud when they can. It’s the metaphorical mud that becomes enticing. As we wander on life’s pathway, we will invariably get stuck in the mud. At times, we all like to wander into the muck and get dirty. What is that mucky mess we wander into? That varies, depending on the person and the pathway he or she walks. Some of us step into the middle of self-righteousness—“my way is the right way and I won’t listen to anything else.” Others love to wallow in guilt, self-pity, or gossip. Still others become mired in the muck of addictions: food, material goods, entertainment, pornography, alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal drugs.

Whatever mud lies in the pathway, it is wise to avoid it at all costs. Once we step into the middle of that mud puddle, we become hopelessly mired in the muck. Fortunately for us, there is One strong enough to get us out of the muck, help us find our way home, and cleanse away all the mud.

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all righteousness.”

 Oh, Lord, guide our footsteps and keep us out of the mud.