Doing right can sometimes be quite messy


Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, observed “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Poetic and insightful; however, this red-neck Saskatchewanian might summarize such truth in more practical terms: “The elimination of a thousand hornets begins with one sting” – especially when that sting is delivered to the thigh of one’s wife.

I was in the driveway instructing a reluctant daughter in the art of changing oil in the van, when we were interrupted by a whirlwind. It was my wife as she limped around the corner sporting an angry red welt. Never one to mince words, she simply whispered, “Get-rid-of-those-hornets”.

Call it a sixth sense if you will, but I instinctively knew the task could no longer be ignored. Postponement just might result in my postmortem.

The pesky insects had been buzzing their way through a crack in the deck boards for weeks. An unspoken truce had been established: we avoid that part of the deck, they avoid us. But now war had been declared, the slumbering giant had been awakened and his name was Rod.

My son was recruited and strategically stationed near their lair. Armed with two aerated cans of hornet spray, he was told to shoot anything that moves (of the insect variety that is). I clutched my machine gun (electric drill) and began to remove screws from the deck-board, working my way into enemy territory. My cohort laid down a steady stream of protective spray and the casualties mounted – tiny, lifeless bodies strewn around the battle scene.

At last the board was removed to reveal a massive nest resting between floor joists. It was eight inches long – and growing each time I tell the story. Not satisfied to merely expose the problem, I fired up the ultimate weapon of mass destruction; a small blowtorch plucked from the garage. Incineration would be a pleasure (insert evil cackle here).

As flames touched the nest, it became an instant inferno – as did the surrounding deck boards. Yes, I had overlooked the small fact that aerosol spray is extremely flammable.

Peering through the red haze I could see the stress was beginning to affect my young recruit. He was bent over, roaring with laughter. Psychological problems were obvious.

“Grab the hose”, I snapped, and he sprinted away, dragging it back a few moments later, still cackling like an old hen.

Thankfully, water quickly trumped flames leaving behind sodden, smoke-kissed boards. But the nest was gone; the hornets were silenced. Justice had prevailed.

The point to my narrative is that doing what is right can sometimes be messy; for me, for you and even for Jesus. Yes, you read that last name correctly.

Jesus was never one to avoid a situation because it might be messy. He made a mess in the temple, tipping tables and driving out money-changers who were extorting worshippers. It was a messy scene when he freed a man from evil spirits which then entered a herd of pigs, driving them over a cliff. Frying bacon is good, but flying bacon is far less appealing, especially when it lands.

And ultimately, that Salvation-scene was a mess – a bloody mess – quivering flesh pierced by spikes and scalp ripped by thorn-barbs, causing rivulets of red. Pain was constant. But it got the job done. The salvation of a thousand million souls began with one Savior.

And just beyond death lay resurrection – and victory for all who would dare to grasp the meaning behind the mess.

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