Crouching . . .

“. . . sin is crouching at your door.”

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“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why that scowl on your face?  If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling; but because you have done evil, sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it.’  Then Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out in the fields.‘  When they were out in the fields, Cain turned on his brother and killed him.” (Genesis 4:6-8) 

It all started with a pig . . .
Patti and I were running some errands last Friday that took us to Williamson, WV, the county seat for Mingo County, WV right across the Tug River from Pike County, Kentucky.  This was the home of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud.  As we drove down main street we spotted these pigs on the sidewalk. 

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We were a little perplexed until we saw a sign about “Hatfield and McCoy Days” and Patti offered, “Well it all started with a pig didn’t it?”  Yes, legend has it that one of the bloodiest, most heart-wrenching conflicts in U.S. history began with an argument over a pig – a simple pig.  Now I understand that a pig was an incredibly valuable item in those days (and still is today considering the price of pork when I go to the grocery store) but really, a pig?  Two families unleashed such bloody rage against one another that even to this day there’s hardly a person that doesn’t have some knowledge about the Hatfield and McCoy feud.  But, a pig . . .

It really doesn’t take much does it?  It doesn’t take much for me to feel that sigh of disapproval well up inside me when someone does something that annoys me.  It doesn’t take much for that angry word to be right there on the tip of my tongue.  It really doesn’t take much – even if the offender is someone I really love.  As a matter of fact, sometimes it’s even easier for it to happen when it’s someone close to me because I allow some of my filters and defenses to drop when I’m around them.  I feel like I don’t have to be as careful around them so it’s even easier for the negative reactions to reach the critical and hurtful stage.  That’s why it’s easy for me to find myself ready to express some hurtful thought or feeling even to the folks I’m close to over something as simple as __________________ .  Have you ever found yourself after an unfortunate exchange with someone asking yourself, “Now why did that get so awful?  It all started over some silly ________________ .”

The story in the book of Genesis tells us that Abel and Cain brought offerings to the Lord.  The story is a bit vague about why Cain’s offering from his harvest was rejected by God.  We have to assume that somehow Cain chose not to follow some important instructions God had given him about the harvest offering.  Imagine if you will, Abel got an A+on his term paper and Cain got a D-.  Cain walked away with a sense of disappointment, shame, confusion, hurt, and guilt, all of which quickly rolled into one big ball of rage that was, “crouching at (his) door.”  That’s exactly why God warned him to be careful.  Cain’s next move could mean the difference between a relationship with his brother or none, or even the difference between life and death.  Genesis tells us that unfortunately Cain chose not to be careful and followed the urgings of his rage.  Abel died, Cain was cursed, and it was all over some simple grain . . .

Loving and living in relationships with God and one another is complex and sometimes difficult.  However, it’s amazing how much damage we can do when the negative thoughts and feelings well up and crouch at the door, waiting to be unleashed.  We have important choices in those moments that can make the difference between the life and death of those relationships.  When we feel the negative crouching at the door, we need to first stop everything, remember the story of Cain and Abel, and ask God to give us strength we need to act in the loving way we know Jesus would have us follow.  We don’t want to find ourselves on the other side of a nasty conflict saying to ourselves, “But it was all about some simple ________________,” do we?  I know I don’t so I pray that God will give me ability to stop, remember, ask, act, know, and follow.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Gary
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24
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~ by revgenelson on July 17, 2013.

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