Who would have thought it? Certainly not me, not back then anyway. We do so many things in our carefree youth that we just take for granted we will never regret, never remember, and never think of our past actions again. But from time to time they rear their ugly heads in full HD quality, no less! The past wrong that I am referring to in my life began with the wise counsel of my grandfather and my erratic throwing arm as an overconfident teenager. The year was probably 1975 and I was enthralled as many were with the amazing “Big Red Machine”. The likes of Rose, Bench Morgan and Perez occupied the mind of this 12-year old boy most of the time as I, with glove and ball seemingly permanently affixed to my being, wandered the property that I now call home, finding hard fixed surfaces to bounce said ball of off thus simulating a fly or ground ball. In other words, I was bouncing balls of any wall I could find! I found my way to the front wall of my Grandpa’s garage where McDermott sandstone lay in place to the height of the 12 feet or so to the place where asbestos siding finished the front of the garage wall. There I stood practicing my Don Gullet windup only to be interrupted by Grandpa warning me to be careful because siding would break if I wasn’t careful and missed the stone wall. Brushing his advice off like a high and tight fastball, I proceeded with my endeavor until, you guessed it, with a dull crackling thud an errant pitch mashed sharply into the second tile up just to the left of a window. The damage was done, a Grandpa was angered and a teenager learned a lesson. Or at least I thought the lesson was over that day. As I have mentioned before I now own the house my grandparents lived in those days and a while I back spent the afternoon pealing off the ivy that covered the front of that same garage. Along with siding and sandstone that no one had seen in years there was a familiar broken tile that brought back to my mind a warm summer day when a wild pitch taught me a lesson. Problem is, it’s still teaching me.
That dent in the siding teaches me that listening today prevents future regret. The writer to the Hebrews said “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Every time I see the broken piece of siding I am reminded that I need to pay attention to what God says to me. Through His word, through His leading and through His still small voice, I need to listen. That broken tile teaches me that covering up never erases past wrongs. An Old Testament writer reminds us, “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” You can sweep it under the rug or let ivy grow over it, but it’s still there until God takes it away. Lastly that broken piece of siding reminds me that you reap what you sow, or in my case, throw. Paul wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” I don’t believe Paul was referring to a high outside fastball, but how many of us have made a wild pitch we wish we could throw again or not at all? We need to listen and remember that our actions of today will affect our tomorrow.
Broken shingles are one thing, but a broken life is quite another. Few college football coaches have made a point against drugs as effectively as Erk Russell of Georgia Southern College. He arranged for a couple of good ol’ country boys to burst into a routine team meeting and throw a writhing, hissing, six-foot-long rattlesnake onto a table in front of the squad. “Everyone screamed and scattered,” Russell recalls. “I told them, ‘When cocaine comes into a room, you’re not nearly as apt to leave as when that rattlesnake comes in. But they’ll both kill you!” Sin is the same way; you don’t want it near your life. F.B. Myer wrote, “This is the bitterest of all, to know that suffering need not have been; that it has resulted from indiscretion and inconsistency; that it is the harvest of one’s own sowing; that the vulture which feeds on the vitals is a nestling of one’s own rearing. Ah me! This is pain!” Whose advice are you taking? Never try the old cover up approach—trust me, it doesn’t work! Each of us will reap just what we sow, there are no exceptions. May your heart know the freedom of sins forgiven and the peace of God that passes all understanding. Nothing hidden, but all forgiven. That’s the way to live, and the way to die!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.