My Mom was a hard worker, doing housework the old fashioned way. She used cloth rags instead of disposables and preferred her own cleaning potions to fancy sprays. She used to say the most practical gift any young bride could receive would be a bag of beautiful, soft rags. I didn’t have the heart to tell her a modern bride wouldn’t think they were beautiful or know what to do with them.
Mom scrubbed her floors on hands-and-knees and didn’t own a mop. “How can you get the corners?” she’d say. Using a rag and being on hands-and-knees made sweeping unnecessary, because she’d pick up bits of debris with her rag and rinse them out in her bucket (leftover wash machine water).
One day she was crawling along her kitchen floor, washing away the results of a visit from six preschool grandchildren. She loved cleaning up after these little people, calling the aftermath “a happy mess.” She’d scrub sticky Jello leftovers off the linoleum and remember the fun of making Jigglers with them. She’d scoop up Cheerios and think about the pudgy baby eating in the high chair.
On this day she came across a stray raisin and thought, “Still in good shape,” and popped it into her mouth. One chew told her she’d made a huge mistake. It wasn’t a raisin at all but the product of a toddler’s diaper.
She dropped her rag and got to the bathroom as fast as she could. But brushing her teeth multiple times with lots of toothpaste couldn’t remove the taste from her mouth or the impression from her brain.
All of us have eaten food off the floor. Well, maybe that’s just our family. But surely everyone has heard of the “Five Second Rule.” If something has been on the floor less than that, it’s safe to eat. Of course Mom’s raisin had been there too long.
But that was only part of the problem. Her “raisin” wasn’t a raisin at all but merely something that appeared to be one. Appearances can be deceiving, and she’d been deceived.
Her experience is a memorable illustration of the way deception works. Our enemy, the devil, is the definitive master of disguises. He lies, cheats and deceives with expertise, cloaking wickedness in goodness. “Go ahead,” he sweet-talks. “It’ll be even better than you think. No one has to know. You deserve to have things go your way for once.”
On and on he coaxes with endless patience, tugging us toward a slimy slope with complete devastation at its end. He never runs out of ideas and uses the exact disguises that are attractive to each one of us, an expert at his craft.
Before we have a chance to check if it’s really a raisin, we’re chewing it.
(Tomorrow: Believing the Truth)
“When the devil lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him.” (John 8:44)