Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ketchup Mishaps and Other Lessons Learned

I blame infomercials for some of  my most challenging and irritating mommy-moments. Those 30 minute propaganda-fests convince vulnerable minds that they have a right, no a responsibility, to juice their way to better health, have younger-looking and stubble-free skin, and clean their homes with ease and minimal effort. Children are an advertiser's dream. Not only do they believe everything they hear, but they have a limited concept of money management.

Recently God used an infomercial-re-enactment-gone-wrong to remind me of a truth I often forget: That when life gets messy the first place we should run is to Someone who has the power to help.

One of Jot's best friends is the oldest of three rambunctious, curious boys. According to their mom, vacuum cleaners don't last long in their house due to insufficient suction caused by the slurping of too many socks out from under the couch. She had purchased a brand new vacuum and at the same time some oxygenated carpet cleaning foam. She hadn't had a chance yet to put her new purchases to work, but that didn't stop her boys from testing out the claims of some of the best-known infomercial challenges.

The oldest boy gathered the needed supplies--the new sweeper, the cleaning solution, a bottle of ketchup, and his accomplices, er uh, his brothers--into his brother's room. (He's no dummy!) A liberal dousing of ketchup on the carpet set up their experiment. First they attempted to suck up the red goop with the vacuum. When this left a large, red stain on the floor, they decided it was time to try out the carpet cleaning foam. They applied this directly to the stain and then proceeded to suction it up. Since this did not produce the desired results, they did what any red-blooded American kid would do--they covered the stained, saturated carpet with a rug. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

They cleaned out the vacuum with water and put it back, thinking their afternoon of folly would never find them out. They were safe until their unsuspecting mother hauled out the vacuum for a cleaning spree and noticed the trickle of water coming from the nozzle. Upon further inspection, she found the remnants of ketchup. She did what any suspicious America momma would do and went in search of evidence and too-quiet kids. She found the site of the re-enactment-gone-wrong and pulled the whole, sordid story from some very contrite boys.

What would have happened had the boys run to their momma when they first noticed the sweeper not cleaning the ketchup? Or when the cleaning solution didn't do the job? They continued to try to fix the situation on their own, progressively making it worse, doing more damage, and heaping loads of trouble on their cow-licked little heads. What might have been an easy fix resulted in a ruined carpet, a water-logged, unusable vacuum, a very angry momma, and three boys who are still working to pay back the debt for a replacement sweeper.

We shake our head at such naivety and foolishness out of elementary-aged boys, but how often do we, as adults, make the very same mistakes? We believe we can extract ourselves from a jam while all we do is dig ourselves a deeper pit. We search the Internet, read books, listen to experts, and solicit advice from friends when what we should do in the first place is to run to the One who has the power to help gets up out of the mess we've made.

Psalm 40:11-13 ERV says:

Lord, do not hide your mercy from me.
Let your love and loyalty always protect me.

Troubles have surrounded me.
They are too many to count!
My sins have caught me,
and I cannot escape them.
They are more than the hairs on my head.
I have lost my courage. Please, Lord, rescue me!
Lord, hurry and help me!

Sometimes life gets ugly from the choices we make for ourselves. Other times our life crumbles because of choices the people around us make. Sometimes we find ourselves in trouble due to accidental circumstances, not the work of anyone, but difficult still the same. God doesn't differentiate. He tells us to get our little behinds to him as fast as our stubby legs will carry us, no matter our guilt (or lack of) in the trial. He wants to help us in all our troubles and waits for us to seek Him out.

Nikki Studebaker Barcus

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10 NIV)