Pt. 2 - The Gingerbread Man
Told before bedtime or perhaps around the feet of our grade school teachers these are the stories we learned as children. These tales taught us life lessons and truths that we had to think through to grasp. Morals of the stories were supposed to teach us morals in life. However, unknown to many of us they also taught us significant spiritual truths! Let's look at one of these fairytales we know so well and see if we can unwrap a spiritual truth that is in it.
Once upon a time there was a little old man and a little old woman who live in a cottage. They would have been happy except for the fact that they did not have a child. One day, when the old lady was making gingerbread, she cut a piece in the shape of a boy and put it into the oven. When she opened the oven again, the gingerbread man jumped up and ran through the kitchen and out of the cottage shouting, "Don't eat me!" The little old woman ran after the gingerbread man. "Stop," she yelled. But the gingerbread man ran even faster, chanting, "Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man." The woman called her husband and they went after him but could not catch him. The gingerbread man runs by a barn full of threshers and says, "I've run away from a little old woman, a little old man, and I can run away from you, I can!" The barn full of threshers joined the chase, but could not catch him as well. Next, the gingerbread man came to a field full of mowers, again boasting that they couldn't catch him. Then came a cow, then a pig, but no one was close to catching the gingerbread man. Then the gingerbread man reached a wide river, but he didn't know how to swim. A sly and hungry fox saw the gingerbread man and said, "Jump on my tail, and I'll take you across the river!" The gingerbread man thought to himself, "I'll be safe on his tail." So he jumped on the fox's tail and they started across the river. Halfway across the river, the fox barked, "You're too heavy for my tail, jump on my back." So the gingerbread man jumped on the fox's back. Soon, the fox said, “You're too heavy for my back, jump onto my nose." So the gingerbread man jumped on the fox's nose. But as soon as they reached the riverbank, the fox flipped the gingerbread man into the air, caught him and began to eat him up, with the gingerbread man stating’ "Oh dear, I'm a quarter gone!" And then, "Oh, I'm half gone." Then, "I'm three-quarters gone!" And finally, "I'm all gone!"
Let me take you a moment and talk about how this familiar tale teaches us some spiritual truths and then point you to some Scripture.
We think we are the exception rather than the rule!
The Gingerbread Man's demise came because he assumed, he couldn't be caught. Doesn't that sound us? We watch as people all around us are caught by the fox of foxes. We observe others fall to the traps he lays out for them and we still think we are too fast to be caught. It is amazing to me that Jesus tells us that this sly fox's sole purpose and desire is to kill, steal and destroy us. He wants to eat us up. And although we would testify to Jesus' absolute commitment to save souls we wink at, ignore and even dismiss the enemy’s same tenacity and absolute resolve to destroy us. So, the result is we continue to flirt with, hang around the fringes of, and play with danger. Always convinced that we are too fast, too wise, too strong, too _________________ to be caught. Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me I'm invincible man! We are the exception. The trap designed is enough to catch others, but not us and we wake up not only caught but destroyed! The power that Jesus gives us when we enter relationship with Him is the power to refrain not to dabble and dash. It seems to me that too many of experience Jesus and then think that now we are strong enough to manage, handle and deal with what was killing us before Jesus. We go back and do the same things as if now that we have Jesus those things are no longer able to destroy us. Perhaps we have missed the point. Jesus came into our lives not so that we could keep doing what we always did and survive, but instead so that we could escape and not go back! If that isn't the case, then we our saved but just as bound. Saved but just as addicted. Saved but just as angry. Saved but just as mean. Saved but just as depressed. Saved but just as troubled! That doesn't sound like what Jesus said when after telling us the devil's goal He tells us His . . . life and life more abundant. Perhaps life abundant only comes when we first live life abandoned. We abandon the things that were destroying us so that the life of Jesus can be lived.
Perhaps this is why writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 12 to us to lay aside every weight. He makes this statement to those who have already encountered and accepted Christ. Notice that the author doesn't just say lay aside every sin. He also said weight. Things that slow us down. A conscious decision to put away that things that the enemy could use against us over time to slow us down. Things like sports, shopping, eating, video games, and Facebook time can all slow us down in the race set before us. They take our eyes off of Christ. They can come dangerously close to skirting with idolatry. Just because you can make an argument that something isn't sin doesn't also mean that something can't destroy you! There are things that slow us down to being caught speed!
Destruction takes place slowly.
No one ever wakes up completely destroyed. It isn't like one morning you are whole and the next you are living in complete depravity.
We drift to destroyed.
It is a slippery and gradual slope. The Gingerbread Man ran to increasing danger. Much like The Gingerbread Man many of us can state "Oh dear, I'm a quarter gone!" And then, "Oh, I'm half gone." Then, "I'm three-quarters gone!" And finally, "I'm all gone!" He reminds us that delayed destruction is still complete destruction.
We go from needing that little thing a little to a lot. We go from watching/looking/thinking occasionally, to daily, to every moment. The enemy has perfected the "frog in the kettle" method. He slowly turns up the heat until, unbeknownst to us, we are boiled.
Solomon, interestingly enough, called these things the little foxes. Insignificant moments that culminate in our soul, joy, peace, healing, freedom being devoured and lost.
How many of us are in this very moment a quarter gone? Convinced I can stop when I want to. I can handle this. I can outrun this! Wake up and run before it is too late. Tomorrow . . . half gone . . . I think I may be able to stop. The next day . . . three quarters gone . . . I wished I could stop or one day I will be able to stop. Next week . . . all gone . . . you can't even remember what it was like to be whole. Whole sounds like a fantasy or perhaps like a fairytale. In fact, we even become convinced that we aren't supposed to be able to escape! It is in my genes. It is my destiny. It is just how it is. Slow steps to destroyed still lead to destroyed! We must learn to escape as early as possible and remain elusive!
May I read to you the story of The Gingerbread Man in Scripture?
Text: Matthew 27:1-5 (MSG)
In the first light of dawn, all the high priests and religious leaders met and put the finishing touches on their plot to kill Jesus. Then they tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor. Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, “I’ve sinned. I’ve betrayed an innocent man.” They said, “What do we care? That’s your problem!” Judas threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself.
Lest we forget . . . Judas was chosen. Hand-picked. The special group of followers. Judas may have been the only Judean among the twelve disciples of Jesus. This alone could have caused him to feel somewhat superior, as Judeans considered Galileans to be "country bumpkins." When Jesus gave him charge of the money box, it probably boosted his ego even more. He was with Jesus. Day in and day out. Around Him. Close to Him. Committed to Him. An eyewitness to the same miracles - water to wine, walking on water, blind healed, lame walk, bread multiplied, dead raised. In fact, may I submit that most likely he witnessed first-hand more show stopping miracles than you? He saw more proof with his natural eyes than you! He walks beside Jesus as palm branches are laid at Jesus' feet!
But Judas was the Gingerbread Man! He thought he was too quick. I have heard Jesus state His mission. But I don't like His mission. I want to force Jesus' hand to set us free now. To overthrow the Romans now. I will take matters into my own hands because I am slick enough to get the Son of God to do what I want Him to do, when I want Him to do it. The process is slow. A question here about perfume "wasted" on Jesus' feet gives a tiny glimpse of the process that has begun. A short inconspicuous side meeting there with the religious leaders. He didn’t just wake up one morning and without any warning wind up denying. He didn't just wake up one day and sell Jesus out. Over time. Then on the fateful day we are told . . . Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. He comes to his senses, his eyes are finally opened, but it wasn't until he is all gone. The fox flips him into the air and eats him up! He finds out that the game he has played has played him and then we see the result . . . destroyed.
Isn't this only a story for sinners. Those far from God? It certainly speaks to anyone in the room who doesn't know Jesus. I can assure you that sin will take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay and cost you more than you wanted to pay. In fact, I need to warn you that in your own strength and speed you cannot and never will outrun the fox. Your only hope is Jesus!
But why tell this story in a room that is also full of believers? Church goers? Devout and devoted? I tell this because I am convinced that too many of us are on a slippery slope. We have outrun the first trap. We have possibly outrun the second. Maybe you are quick enough to hide it past the third. But the fox will arrive and those who experienced wholeness can be wholly destroyed. We must check ourselves. We must do more than just repent one day. We must live a life of repentance where every thought, every statement, every post is carefully checked to make sure we aren't walking one step closer to gone.
What is slowing you down to being caught speed? Why do you think you can do this when you have watched while others are destroyed? What are you dabbling in that could destroy you?
Are you a quarter gone? Are you halfway gone? Are you three quarters gone? Be honest. You were meant to be whole! If we are going to run, then let's run back to The One who can make us whole!