About one month ago I had the fun of caring for some young ones while their parents were busy. They were using a wheeled cart for rides and I was soon employed as the motor, transmission and exhaust noise.
At some point, as we were getting to know each other a bit better and tooling around, one of the passengers dragged their foot and out of my mouth slipped one of those terms I grew up with that I hadn't used in years. I said, and believe me, entirely in jest, in my usual jocularity, big smile on my face, "Get your cotton-pickin' foot in the cart!"
I can't put into words the context of fun those words were couched in, and as you know, context can make all the difference. But this time I would not be able to fall back on context to disinfect me.
My little friend looked up at me suddenly and said, "You said a cuss word!"
Stunned, I stopped all motor noise, shifted into neutral and replied quizzically, "I did?"
Lazarus had just moved from off the cold stone bed of his grave and from behind its doorway into the sunlight. He was newly aware of being alive, born again from four days in the dark. Now, if he could only shed the graveclothes.
Hard to say what that was like for him; also hard to say what it was like for those that were looking on. Jesus turned his attention to the folks watching and said, "Loose him, and let him go (John 11:44)."
Now, if you had any Jewish sensibility you might balk at touching a corpse and burial garb. Contact with such things rendered a person unclean and there was a ritual to be performed making dealing with the dead, particularly the stinky dead, troublesome. By-the-way, I'm also like that, tending to hesitate getting my hands dirty when it comes to helping folks with the issues that bind them. It can be messy. Children are less inhibited. Maybe it was one of them that broke free of their parents hand and boldly went to up to Lazarus to take off the first piece - or the last.
I still have some strips of cloth that stick to me. I was called out from my grave too, like Lazarus, as we all must be. It takes a while to get shed of our graveclothes. Every-so-often someone helps me remove another stinky piece. Like my young friend in the cart. She brought attention to something smelly I was unaware of and helped me remove it.
If y'all see something, or smell something on me like a remnant of graveclothes, please help me...
Grace today y'all
W. T. P. Wolston was a very famous Bible teacher amongst groups like ours in Scotland some years ago. He was an Englishman, born down near Dartmouth, about four miles away. He sometimes told the story of a noted infidel and landowner in his small community who had given testimony as to how he had eventually come to know the Lord.
The man had members of his family who were Christians and Sunday in those days was always a rather dismal day for him as an unbeliever.
So one of those Sundays he took an extended walk.
That particular afternoon, while wandering the fields he meandered toward his own property where he had a few cattle and leaned up against the fence. As he was standing there thinking, one of his cows came up to him and licked his hand. As the fella related his story, he told how when he was young his mother had taught him the Bible. He said that as that old cow licked his hand a text of Scripture she had taught him came back to him:
“The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” Isaiah 1:3 [KJV]
He said he looked down and thought, the Scripture is true. It is true of me, my cow knows me as its master but I don’t know God.
With that the formerly obstinate infidel turned to the Lord and was converted.
You just never know what the Lord will use to speak to us!
"The wind blows where it wills and we hear the sound it makes, but no one knows where it comes from or where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit."