We had a few extraordinary pets when I was growing up. My dad was always a bit restless, and as a result, he often made knee-jerk decisions—like the time he brought home a tiny baby raccoon. I’m certain my mom scolded him for his questionable choice. The little nocturnal nuisance was hardly a suitable pet for 8- and 5-year-old girls, not to mention that it was illegal to house such an animal in the state where I lived. My dad didn’t listen to reason. He only thought about how adorable and fascinating the little raccoon was. And he was adorable, but let’s get real. “Adorable” eventually grows up.
Rocky, as he was affectionately named, lived in a huge cage on the back porch. In the beginning, Rocky was so small that we had to feed him with a tiny bottle and care for him like he was a premature baby. My dad spent too much money furnishing the enclosure for the clever animal. It had a rope swing that probably cost more than our rent, and Rocky slept in a little bed fit for a Persian cat. Perhaps the greatest challenge in creating a home for him was “raccoon-proofing” the cage so he couldn’t escape. It was important to keep him contained and somewhat hidden to avoid being fined by the city for breaking the law. Before Dad installed expensive locks, we would watch him use his spooky little human-like hands to break out of his cage. Oh he was adorable, all right. Until he wasn’t.
One day when Rocky was fully grown I remember sitting with my sister on the back porch. The furry pet had crawled on her shoulder and was playing with her hair, seemingly innocent. All of a sudden, she screamed and Rocky went berserk. Unprovoked, my little sister had been bitten by the raccoon who had never shown any aggression to us. The bite was big and deep. In no time at all we had exchanged the masked gremlin for three stitches on her head. My dad had sense enough to get rid of the animal after it endangered someone he loved. The bald spot on my sister’s head is a reminder that danger often starts out adorable and cute but can turn deadly over time.
Sin is like a raccoon. How many times have I toyed with temptation that seems harmless? I coddle, protect, and feed thoughts that could grow into something dangerous for me. I keep my sin hidden because exposure means I will be held accountable for my actions, and I’d rather pretend I can tame my wild thoughts. When my sin overpowers my will to walk away, someone always gets hurt. Sometimes it’s me; sometimes it’s my children. In every situation, the resulting pain could have been avoided if I hadn’t chased the forbidden.
What is your hidden nuisance? What are you housing in the secret places of your heart that will eventually grow up and be destructive? Spending too much money now seems innocuous, until a heavy yoke of debt bites you. Entertaining the company of a married man seems manageable, until the sin of adultery bites you. Neglecting God’s Word seems harmless, until apathy bites you and you no longer concern yourself with following Christ.
Let this be a reminder to all of us that sin often thrills but eventually kills. James 1:15-16 sums it up best, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Let’s get rid of the masked bandits of temptation before they leave a permanent scar on our lives.
About Kim Heinecke
Kim Heinecke wants to live in a world where children listen to the advice of their mothers without question. As a former single mom she’s been encouraging women using her life experiences in parenting, growing in the Word of God and everything in between. When she’s not negotiating with a teenager or wrestling a pre-schooler, you can find her camping in the family RV or pretending to understand sports with her husband and four sons. Read more from Kim at www.TheMomExperiment.com.