Encountering the Canadian badlands is quite an experience. One moment you are driving on a completely flat prairie, able to see for miles around, and the next minute you are surrounded by sheer, bare, hellish hills.
Imagine living in the time where cars were non-existent (A time when gas was cheaper than hay!). Your mode of transportation is a horse-drawn wagon (My youngest son is getting excited now!). You are making great progress, a good 5 kilometers an hour. You should reach the West Coast within the next month or two at this rate. How exciting! Then, to your dismay, you encounter a dip in the trail, leading you to an unrealistic, red-streaked, moon-like landscape, littered with tall, sentinel-like formations. There is no water, no trail big enough for a wagon to pass, and the descent is far too steep for a wagon. There is no way you can get across. Instead of reaching your destination in two months, it may take you two years! In your letter back home, you can’t help but complain a little about these “bad lands” (hence the name, Badlands!).
As you look around, you wonder who those strange sentinels are. You find out they are called hoodoos (not voodoos, that is something completely different, believe me!), and they are believed by the local natives to be sleeping giants, standing on guard. According to legend, they come alive by night and throw their heads on any unfortunate human trying to sleep nearby. You don’t really believe the stories, but you decide to stay as far away from those as possible. This turns out to be quite an impossible task however, as there is a whole army of them!
If you were to take the time to examine those hoodoos, you would discover that they consist largely of loosely cemented sandstone and mudstone (and you thought cement did not exist in the past!), interlaced with harder rock such as glacial boulders and ironstone, an iron-rich sandstone that is responsible for the rusty-looking cliffs around you. And if you were to watch them over the years, you would learn that the harder rock on top shields parts of the softer sandstone underneath from erosion. In the summer especially, sudden thunderstorms and winds assault those hoodoos and erode away the unprotected softer material, creating these unrealistic, capped sentinels. The sandstone underneath the cap continues to erode however, albeit at a slower rate, until it can no longer support the stronger rock above, and the cap topples off. Then what remains of the hoodoos quickly erodes away. Not fast enough, however, to flatten the landscape and let you pass with your horse-drawn wagon!
Those hoodoos remind me of how sin tends to erode our lives away. We all have some strong, positive character traits (the harder rock parts) that are a blessing to others. Being there for someone when they are down, for example, or being willing to help someone move. However, like the soft sandstone, our sinful nature hinders us from being the real person we could become. In fact, if left unattended, sin will “erode” us, causing us to develop addictive, destructive habits, and just as the cap on the hoodoos eventually topples off, these habits can destroy our relationships with those close to us.
“If I had known…” so many say, “but now it is too late!”
How sad to witness the death of an acquaintance whose lust eroded his complete personality. His wife left him for greener pastures because he could not stop satisfying the demands from his cruel Master, sin. Friends avoided him, ever hoping that the addictive disease isn’t catchy. A life destroyed by sin with no hope for release. How sad!
But aren’t we all in the same boat-or in the same horse-drawn buggy? “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Rom 3:23 NIV)
All of our personalities are tainted. We are all facing addictions that keep us awake in the middle of the night. Hope seems so distant and impossible, but in the morning we all get up, pretending everything is fine.
“How are you?”
“I am just fine!” A little lie hiding the sad truth that our world seems to be falling apart.
The more we struggle with our addictive sins, the more they become engrained in us and the less freedom seems to be an option. Little by little our true selves erode away and we change into a senseless, monstrous blob that no one seems to be able to control.
“Is there any help out there?” You wonder.
Humanly speaking, there is no help available. Some people are trained to try to make us feel better, but deep inside the hurt continues as the disease spreads deeper and deeper into our inner selves.
The good news? There is someone who can help us reach freedom, someone who can help us discover our true personality. He is the One who helped me break free from addictions, too shameful to be shared in open public. Freedom can be yours as well. It is available solely through the One and only named Jesus. His words are true: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV); and “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NIV)
He is trying to reach you. Will you let Him? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28 NIV)
What will you do with all these monsters in your life? Leave them to Jesus and watch how His grace will transform you from a monstrous blob into the real you. Freedom at last!