The Muddy Road

by | Jun 8, 1998 | Overcoming, Perseverance, Sin, Temptation

My dog and I were about halfway through our run one morning when I discovered an abandoned dirt road through the woods. My better sense told me not to take it, for the rain that had been falling for days would surely have turned it into a trail of sticky, slushy mud. But since I much prefer running in nature to running on a paved roadway, I decided to ignore the warning. “I won’t get dirty,” I told myself. “I’ll just run between the wheel ruts!”

I hadn’t gone far, however, when it became apparent that staying out of the mud would be impossible. Pools of water completely covered the road in some places, and where exposed, the ridge between the ruts was slushy and slippery. But this didn’t faze me in the least. “What’s a little mud, anyway?” I muttered, and I proceeded to slosh my way through the sticky mire and muddy water for over half a mile.

By the time I was back on the paved road, I had nearly twisted my ankle several times, I had half an inch of mud caked to the bottom of my running shoes, my jogging pants were filthy, and my poor dog was a mess. “It’s nothing to worry about!” I told myself. “I didn’t get hurt, and the mud will fall off as I run!”

But the dirt didn’t “fall off”, and once back home, my pants had to be washed, my shoes had to be scrubbed, and I had to give my dog a bath.

A few days later, I was once again tempted to take the muddy road. You would think that I would have learned my lesson, but when a quiet voice whispered, “Remember what happened last time?” I responded with, “It wasn’t anything that a little soap and water couldn’t wash out!”

Over the next few weeks, I took that muddy road numerous times. Each time, I became more confident in my ability to keep from getting dirty and to keep from injuring myself, and each time it became easier and easier for me to ignore the little voice of warning.

Then one day, my dog came home infested with ticks. After a visit to the vet to remove the ticks, a lime disease vaccine, and a tick bath, all of which cost over 100$, she was still banned outdoors for 3 days until the tick medicine could take effect.

Later, in contemplating this situation, I began to remember how many times my foot had slipped in the mud, how many times I had nearly fallen, and how close I had come to twisting my ankle or breaking an arm. What a chance I had been taking!

How many times in life are we tempted to run down the road of sin? “I’ll avoid the sin,” you tell yourself, but you learn, too late, that once on the path, it can’t be completely avoided. In fact, you are miraculously saved from falling into it over and over again, and when you finally come to your senses, you learn that the traces of sin won’t just “fall” off on their own. They have to be washed off with the cleansing “bath” of the blood of Jesus, poured out freely for each and ever repentant sinner.

But each time you go down the sinful paths of the world, it becomes easier and easier to give in to the temptation the next time. You hear yourself say: “It doesn’t matter. Falling into sin won’t hurt me! Jesus will forgive me and cleanse me when I am finished!” And you are right. Jesus will forgive you, for you are under grace. But each time you travel down the paths of sin, it begins to lose its “sinful” appearance. You continue to put yourself in danger of “slipping” and causing serious damage and permanent scarring to your character. Worst of all, the crippling consequences of your self-indulgence may get someone else into trouble—someone who isn’t as strong as you are, or who doesn’t know Jesus like you do. “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak . . . So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.” (1 Cor.:9-13). Is it any wonder that Heb. 12:1 tells us to “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”?

Let’s resist the temptation to go down the muddy road—to flirt with sin. Keeping God’s commands will prevent us from muddying our shoes. It will ensure that sin never becomes “commonplace”. It will make it possible to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1), and most importantly, it will ensure that we will never become a “stumbling block” for another.

Lyn Chaffart


The Muddy Road