Good Morning Brothers…

A couple weeks ago, the boys and I built a deer blind out behind the house. It was constructed from left over timber from different projects at my shop, and left over composite panels from different projects from another guys shop, and some left over steel roofing from different projects buried deep in the corner of a shop. The clutter which accumulates from change orders, changes in design, or changed minds occupies work space which could be better used for endeavors which generate income. The deer blind itself is awesome…and I know that if the tax man for the county were to see it…I’d be tagged with a separate living space. The point of a deer blind, say over a treestand, is the freedom of movement without getting busted by the deer. Once a ‘blind’ is effectively brushed in and left to settle…the wild critters get used to it and it becomes part of the landscape. In this manner, once I enter the blind, my movements are hidden and the deer only see the landscape.

Getting to the ‘blind’ without getting busted is the trick. The wild critters get comfortable enough around this structure and they can literally be hanging out under the floor of the ‘blind’. Sneaking in to the ‘blind’ at dark-thirty is the normal mode of entering. This means that I need to travel down the path into the woods in the dark…without a flashlight…as quiet as possible…and gain entry without disturbing the wild animals roaming around. For my boys, this part, the walking in the dark part, will keep them in bed if I don’t wake them.

Driving through the city one late evening, I was startled by how many people were out and about on the streets, hanging out in dark parking lots, leaning up against the boarded up abandoned buildings. My daughter commented to me how it would “freak her out” to walk the streets at night. I thought about that all the way home because I realized that I would be uncomfortable too. However, a dark trail in grizzly country frightens me not even a little.

Why is that…?

Is it because I carry weapons on the grizzly trail, or is it because I don’t recognize the danger?

It would be really easy to steer this devotional into the area of trust…but…I think God has something else cooking here. The last couple days I’ve had this concept tumbling around in my head like a ping-pong ball at bingo…just waiting for it to pop up so I can see what it says. My fingers keep finding this passage in 1 John 1: 5-10, This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

This passage seems very inspiring and condemning all at the same time. Inspiring that God is devoid of all darkness…all stains of evil. Condemning because I still have moments when I walk in darkness…therefore I lie and don’t practice the truth. It seems to me, that even though I am redeemed, their are still stains of evil in my life. Isn’t darkness darkness? I mean…whatever isn’t light…is darkness…and all darkness is the same…right? That ping pong ball is still bouncing around…found myself in Leviticus 16: 20-22, When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

When I look up the words: iniquities, transgressions, and sins from this passage in the Strongs Concordance…they have different meanings. They have different ‘shades of darkness’. There is a progression of evil that flows from sin (an offense)…to transgression (rebellion)…to iniquity (perversity). The darkness gets darker so to speak. As I wondered about the implications of this in my own life, as well as, the worlds…the ping pong ball began to bounce faster within my head and I found my fingers flipping to Exodus 34: 5-7, (a little context…Moses on the Holy Mountain with the Lord replacing the broken 10 stone tablets)…The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Again…inspiring and condemning, all in the same passage. Praise God we can be forgiven for any of the ‘shades of darkness’. Condemning that our iniquities can be passed on to our descendants. H’mm…is that still true…? Didn’t Christ take that away on the Cross…? I do, however, see families who have lived generations with disease, addictions, worldly values, an afflictions of every kind. It makes me wonder if that is still true today?

Am I blind to my own darkness? Am I comfortable walking the grizzly trail because I don’t recognize the danger…or because I’m armored against the danger? Can the clutter in my life be used to build something good…or…will it be just another ‘shade of darkness’? The ping pong ball is still bouncing around in my head…I need to pray about this some more and we’ll discuss it next week.

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