I love dominoes.
I especially like the ones with the different colored dots.
There are many fun games to play with dominoes. I enjoyed that. But my favorite thing to do was to line them all up, real close together, and then topple them all down – just by pushing the first one over.
Such a harmless tap of my finger – but oh, what it sets into motion!
Sin is like that.
Sometimes we can start with the smallest "innocent" decision or action, and without even knowing it, we set a series of consequences into motion.
Because sometimes that first "little" sin is merely the first domino – the one that makes all the other ones fall.
When I read today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" I was reminded of that:
"Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before?...After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left! After them came the hopping locusts, and the stripping locusts, too!" (Joel 1:2, 4)
I investigated some commentaries to help understand the different types of locusts. Here's a quick overview of my research:
--Some scholars have suggested that the words indicate four stages in the
development of locusts
--Others believe that the locusts symbolize four different invading armies
--Many believe that the creatures here spoken of are different
kinds of locusts, so named from their number or voracity
--The law mentions several sorts of locusts – in fact, more than 80 different
kinds have been observed
--Slight as they are in themselves, beautiful and gorgeous, they are a scourge
that grows in successive devastation
--Each judgment, though in itself desolating, is later followed quickly by
another, and thus they complete their destructiveness
--Morally, also, four chief passions can desolate successively the human heart:
--lust – which so pollutes the heart it possesses
--vainglory (pride) – which exalts itself with empty presumptions
--gluttony and covetousness and materialism – appetites of impious desires that
are indulged in too immoderately, leading ever
more fiercely to any object of
--anger and impatience – whose flames wither the fruit of virtue
When some vices succeed to others, one plague enters to devour the *field* of the mind, while another is leaving it.
As much as I would love to tell you that I have no experience of this type of "plague" – I have to be honest. There was a time when my life was invaded by sin.
I made one small decision – at least it seemed small at the time – but it became the first domino to fall in my life.
Unbeknownst to me, the first wave of locusts had arrived.
It doesn't take much
one crucial lapse of judgment, one singular step over the line into sin, one selfish ignoring of faith and values, can lead to a "swarm effect."
An *innocent* beginning can quickly turn into devastation.
And you can end up feeling like the Israelites:
"Despair…wail…weep…The fields are ruined, the land is stripped bare. The grain is destroyed, the grapes have shriveled, and the olive oil is gone….And the people's joy has dried up within them." (Joel 1:10-12, parts)
Yes, I finally looked around at the mess of my life and realized – I was a wilderness. I was far from home, far from the Lord who loved me. And I wanted to return.
My repentance was quick. His forgiveness was instantaneous and complete. And though my healing took a little longer, I fully understood like never before, that the Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
I will never forget the day when I knew that I was headed down a new path. I had a *random* meeting with a woman (no coincidence – this was a divine appointment). We talked, I told her about my story. She said some of the most powerful words I have ever heard – and oddly enough, they were from the book of Joel:
"The LORD says, 'I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter…Once again…you will praise the LORD your God, who does these miracles for you.'"
(Joel 2:25-26, ESV and NLT)
I hugged her with tears in my eyes.
Oh dear ones, God proved to be faithful.
He did indeed restore and revive me, renew and re-establish me. He paid back – many times over – the time that I lost.
My lesson for today?
It's two things.
First, be very careful when dealing with dominoes. One small sin can be the first catalyst to an onslaught of ensuing consequences – and one day you will find yourself devastated.
But, there is hope.
For the second lesson is this – we have a great and gracious God. And He is perfectly able, and completely willing, to forgive the repentant sinner. He can heal broken hearts, He can restore shattered relationships. He can mend and mold a faithful life out of the locust-eaten fields of iniquity.
Anyone who calls on God's name can be saved.
"I will pardon my people's crimes…and I, the LORD, will make my home…with my people." (Joel 3:21)
Do you, or does someone you know, need to hear this message of hope?
Won't you pass it on?
"When in doubt, search God out!"