Summary: The destructive power of sin can be stopped...
Interrupting the Inevitable
I’m from back east…many of you know that...and we generally get more snow than in Toronto. But I remember one particular year about six years ago when the snow was extra heavy. I’m not complaining, mind you, because we’d had a pretty easy go of it as far as winter is concerned. Yet it seemed that nature decided to give us in four easy installments what should have been spread out over more time. Now, once again I want to remind you that I’m not complaining. After all we’re living in Canada, for goodness sake...and you’ve got to expect snow and ice when you’re in Canada in the winter. It’s just that...I was a shoveler.
A shoveler. What that means is that I didn’t have a snow blower, an old pick up with a plow, nor even one of those large, economy sized snow scoops. No, I had a shovel. Just an ordinary, run of the mill, wooden handled, aluminum bladed snow shovel of a rather smallish variety. So, it would snow and I would shovel. It would drift and I would shovel. Then it would snow again and I would shovel some more. I shoveled the steps, the driveway, the walks around the house, the decks, the garbage box, and the mail box. Then it snowed again, and I shoveled it all again.
One morning found me shoveling a driveway full of drifted snow. You know, the kind of snow that requires you to cut cubes with the shovel blade and pry each cube out with a lift on the handle. Now that wasn’t pleasant. Cut, cut, cut, cut, stab, pry, lift and sling. Cut, cut, cut, cut, stab, pry, lift and sling. Over and over again. All the while thinking about back injury, heart attack, and the injustice of nature.
You know, in my lifetime I’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of things. Magnificent scenery, beautiful people, newborn babies...I’ve seen things that inspired me and motivated me...I’ve seen things that moved me and took my breath away...but I’ve got to tell you that the sweetest sight I’ve ever seen in my life was the end of that driveway. So I stood there looking toward the house from the end of my neatly shoveled handiwork...stood there sweaty and panting, yet with the satisfaction of a job well done. Yes, that was sweet.
Then it snowed some more.
It’s not I minded shoveling, really. It was just the seemingly endless repetition of it all. Snow. Shovel. Snow. Shovel. And always over and over on the same little stretch about 4 meters wide and 10 meters long. I mean, hard work is good and all...but it’s so frustrating when the hard work seems to get you nowhere.
Life’s a lot like that at times, isn’t it? Seems like you just start to feel like you’re getting somewhere and then it you’re snowed under. So you get back at it, work hard and push yourself. Finally, you get a breather. You’ve succeeded! You’ve got few extra dollars in the bank, the car’s running ok, you’ve gotten that promotion, and everyone is healthy... Then the car acts up, your hours get cut, your kid gets sick, and poof! Those few extra dollars? They’re gone too. Yeah. It’s snowed again.
Sometimes life does seem like you’re a hamster in a wheel, like you’re actually living out an old country song where “the harder you work, the behinder you get.” They tell us that hard work never killed anyone, and maybe it hasn’t. But the worry and the stress that usually accompany hard work today certainly have. So you find yourself in a cycle of worry, work, move ahead, get behind, catch up, worry, work...and on it goes. And every once in a while when you’re tucking you’re aching body and tired mind into bed, you find yourself saying to no one in particular, “There’s got to be more to life than this.”
I can think of no better way to describe sin and the effects of sin. Always promising more than it delivers, and always feeding you just enough to keep you hungry, sin keeps you dissatisfied. Sin takes your life into a spin of searching without finding and of yearning without fulfillment. Sin keeps you working hard at being a sinner, consuming the vital energies of your life in the pursuit of greater satisfaction. Deceiving, humiliating, and condemning, sin wears on you until finally, tired and weary, you enter eternity still longing and asking, “Is there no more than this?”
I. The Woman In Adultery
We’ve read this morning the story of a woman caught up in this devastating cycle of sin. While we don’t know her name and have few details of her life, there are some facts we can dig from these verses that may present us with a picture that we can recognize.