He walked along the trail on a bright summer’s day. He noticed the little pebble wedged between the bottom of his foot and his sandal. It’s no big deal, just an annoyance. He kept walking, changing his gait every-so-often as he shook his foot in an attempt to dislodge the pebble. He never thought of stopping to take off his sandal and get rid of the irritant; that would interrupt his walk, and besides it seemed like nothing. It was quite the sight if you watched from a distance. A full grown man who can easily remove, clean out and put back on his sandal is now taking a few steps then shaking his foot, stumbling a bit, then doing his best to return to a normal gait. Even his normal gait between his stumbling, foot shaking routine had begun to include a slight limp. Still he soldiered on repeating his ritual of limp, shake foot, stumble, limp, shake foot, stumble…
He finally made it to the beach.
He kicked off his sandals, the foreign object all but forgotten even though it had bothered him throughout his hike. He had arrived at his destination, a beautiful sandy beach and, most importantly, water to cool his sweat drenched body. The beauty of this paradise was shattered by the stream of obscenities he let out as the bloodied foot caused by the no big deal pebble in his sandal touched the saltwater. He could have sat down, taken off his sandal and removed the rock as soon as he felt it but it seemed like a waste of time. He had places to go and besides it seemed like nothing.
Satan is represented in this metaphor.
The problem is, Satan is craftier than we realize. Is Satan the pebble? No! As much as anything that causes irritation would appear to be the evil one, the pebble is not him. Is Satan the long walk? No! As much as having to walk a long way from the car to the beach and getting all sweaty makes an otherwise fun day less enjoyable, the walk is not him. Is Satan the saltwater? No! As much as putting salt in a wound is not high on anyone’s list of things to do, the saltwater is not him. Is Satan the sandal? No! Satan is not in comfortable summer footwear. Satan is not in anything that he could see, feel or experience during his outing…
…Satan is found in the lie that, it’s no big deal, just an annoyance.
We often let Satan use scripture to send us in a certain direction just has he did with Jesus with one exception, Satan finds success with us. He tells us to forgive and forget then pokes at us suggesting that we are not good Christians if we still remember what happened. His accusations of failure as a follower of Christ because we don’t just let things role off our back leading to guilt and shame. He doesn’t want you to forgive. He would be very unhappy if you forgot. His only goal is to get you so focused on ignoring rather than addressing what has happened that you walk around with a pebble in your shoe until out of the blue your ignored injury makes contact with someone else’s saltwater and BANG! Maybe it was no big deal. Maybe it was just an annoyance. Unaddressed no big deals and just annoyances are big deals and major life issues waiting to happen when you don’t stop to take the pebble out of your sandal.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV)