When I was ten years old, I had a puppy named Tina. You would have loved
her. She was the perfect pet. An irresistible, pug-nosed Pekingese pup. One
ear fell over and the other ear stood straight up. She never tired of
playing and yet never got in the way.
Her mother died when she was born so the rearing of the puppy fell to me. I
fed her milk from a doll bottle and used to sneak out at night to see if she
was warm. Iíll never forget the night I took her to bed with me only to have
her mess on my pillow. We made quite a pair. My first brush with parenthood.
One day I went into the backyard to give Tina her dinner. I looked around
and spotted her in a corner near the fence. She had cornered a butterfly (in
as much as one can corner a butterfly!) and was playfully yelping and
jumping in the air trying to catch the butterfly in her mouth. Amused, I
watched her for a few minutes and then called to her.
"Tina! Come her, girl! Itís time to eat!"
What happened next surprised me. Tina stopped her playing with the butterfly
and looked at me. But instead of immediately scampering to me, she sat back
on her haunches. The she tilted her head back looked at the butterfly, then
looked back at me, then back to the butterfly and then back at me again. For
the first time in her life, she had to make a decision.
Her "want to" longed to pursue this butterfly, to continue to play with it
as it tauntingly awaited her in midair. Her "should" knew she was supposed
to stop and obey her master. A classic struggle of the will: a war between
the "want" and the "should". This same question faces every adult at one
time or another.
So, what did my puppy do? She chased the butterfly! Scurrying and barking,
jumping and leaping, she ignored my call, the call of her master and chased
that silly butterfly until it flew over the fence.
That is when the guilt hit.
She stopped at the fence for a long time, sitting back on her hind legs
looking up in the air where the butterfly had made its exit. Slowly, the
excitement of the chase was overshadowed by the guilt of disobedience.
She turned painfully and walked back to encounter her owner, her master that
she had willfully disobeyed. Her head was ducked as she regretfully trudged
across the yard.
She had violated her "should" and had given in to her "want."
Now, I may be overdoing it a bit. I donít know if a dog can really feel
guilty or not. But a human can. And whether the sin is as slight as chasing
a butterfly or as serious as sleeping with a woman outside of marriage, the
effects are the same.
Guilt creeps in and steals whatever joy might have flickered in our eyes.
Confidence is replaced by doubt, and honesty is elbowed out by
rationalization. Exit peace. Enter turmoil. Just as the pleasure of
indulgence ceases, the hunger for relief begins.
That, then, is the whole reason for the Cross.
The Cross did what nothing else could do: It erased our sins, not for a
year, but for eternity. The Cross did what man could not do. It granted us
the right to talk with, love and even live with God.
You canít do that by yourself. I donít care how many worship services you
attend or good deeds you do, your goodness is insufficient. Thatís why we
need a Savior.
What my little puppy needed was exactly what you and I need: a master who
would extend His hands and say, "Come on, thatís ok." We donít need a master
who will judge us on our performance, or weíll fall woefully short. Trying
to make it to Heaven on our own goodness is like trying to get to the moon
on a moonbeam; nice idea, but try it an see what happens. You need a