Tiger Pee

Some people go their whole lives without getting peed on by a tiger. I, however, am not one of those people. My sophomore year of college, some buddies and I decided to go to a ‘traveling zoo’ stopped outside the mall. We got in my friend’s brand new car right after class and headed to the zoo. Upon arriving, I skipped giddily to the white tent and I was overwhelmed by emotion, and the smell of animal poop, but mostly just overwhelmed by all the animals around me. Monkeys, a camel, goats, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the orange and black striped beauty. A tiger, packing back and forth in his cage. I ran over to the cage and stared at the tiger with my mouth wide open in awe. His giant paws, his green eyes, his tail gracefully danced in the air: back and forth, back and forth. Flick, Flick, Flick. As a cat lover, that should have been a clue. The sign that said “watch out tiger sprays” also should have been a clue. But dang, that cat’s eyes distracted me for just long enough. His tail sprung up, a mist of tiger urine sprayed towards me. Giggles echoed behind me. Complete strangers had just witnessed me getting peed on. I laughed too. Irony, right? Marlie the cat lover WOULD get peed on a tiger. Hardy har har.

I decided me and the tiger were close enough, and I gathered my friends and we left. They were dying laughing the entire car ride home. Oh yeah, remember, this was my friends Brand new car, like It still smells like new car, new. (Bath and Body works? Don’t ever combine tiger pee with new car smell. It’d make an awful new scent.) So, we laugh and laugh and laugh all the way back to campus. I walk very quickly to my dorm room and hurry into the shower. I turn the water on.

*rotate knob*

SQWEEEAAAKKKKKKKK. *NO WATER COMES OUT.*

My jaw drops. I try again. No water. And again. No water.

I put some clean clothes on and started walking/running down the hall to my friends rooms. I still stunk.

*knock knock.* “Hey, I got a peed on by a tiger, long story, can I use your shower?”  I asked several friends, but no one’s water worked.  Exhausted and annoyed, I went back to my room and sat down. My friends ran in and started spraying me with febreeze and perfume. I smelled like tiger pee, pumpkin spice and ‘Love at First Sight.” But mostly just tiger pee. As I sat in my chair feeling rather gross and defeated, with no hope of ever showering and thus no hope of ever finding love, I heard a voice.

This is what being stuck in sin feels like.

Then it all hit me. My friends feeble attempts to cover the scent of tiger urine with febreeze was a lot like us trying to do enough good works to cover up our sin. No amount of febreeze was going to rid me of that stench, because the pee was soaked in my shoes, my hair, my skin (gross. Right?) I had to be made clean, I had to shower.  Our sin can’t be covered up. We need Christ, we need to be made clean. To try and work our way to Heaven is as silly and futile as me choosing to live my whole life without showering, just spraying Febreeze all over me to cover up that smell.

A few minutes later, the shower did work, and I did jump in! I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t try and clean up first. That was a shower’s purpose: to clean me.  Some of us are stuck, we’re trying to clean up first before we go to God. That’s like trying to get a little healthier before going to the doctor, or trying to fix your engine a little bit before going to a car repairman. Let the doctor help you, let the repairman fix your engine, let the water wash you clean, let Christ into your heart and life.  He can do a lot more than you can, He knows you more than you know yourself, He loves you more than anyone else in this world does.

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Get a Grip

It’s a beautiful sunny morning, you got your walking shoes on and a lot of sunscreen on your arms and face. Your closest friends are with you in the car as you drive up to the amusement park. You see the coasters in all their glory: red, yellow, loops, giant hills, towers, turns and cork screws. Today you will ride them all. Twice, even. Your heart races with excitement. You start to dig your ticket out of your pocket as you walk with your friends to the front gate. You exchange a piece of paper for entry to the park and skip/gallop/run/speedwalk to your favorite ride in the park. You arrived early to beat the lines and lucky for you no line existed! Your friends and you weave all through the empty line and get to the station and have to catch your breath. The voice over the speaker catches your attention:

“Welcome riders. Just a heads up, we changed a few things. Not to worry though, you’ll be fine!” You glance around, puzzled. Everything appeared as you remembered it from your last visit. You shrugged your shoulders and just a few moments later the gates opened allowing two riders at a time into their seats.

You take a deep breath and begin to look for the seat belt, and lap bar. You don’t see any of them. You look around, a little panicked, your friend can’t find a a seatbelt either. You raise your hand. An employee with acne and messy hair comes over.

“Um. yes? ” He grumbled.

“Yeah, um, there’s no lap restraint or seatbelt.”

“Right. But there are handles so just hang on. You’ll be fine.”

You couldn’t believe what you were hearing. He was right, there were plastic handles right in front of you, but no way you were strong enough to hold on for yourself. There’s a lot of forces at work in a ride that are way stronger than you; gravity, force, momentum, etc. You’d been on this ride before and sure you held on to those plastic handles, but that lap bar was holding you in far more than your own two hands.

You decide to step off the ride. The disgruntled employee murmurs “Whatever dude.” And opens the gate so you can leave. Your friends follow close behind.

A few weeks ago, I heard an analogy that stuck with me. When a father is holding his child, who is really holding on to who? if the child lets go, does the Father drop the child and scold him for letting go? No, of course not. The Father lovingly holds the child even if the child lets go. I tell you this and a I told you that story to remind you of who really is really holding on to who: God is holding you.

It’s easy to think that we have a grip on things, that we are holding ourselves up pretty well, that our relationship with God is going great cause of our own power. But, that’s as foolish as thinking that when we ride a coaster, we are holding ourselves in with our own strength. Look, life is going to throw you around, always remember, if and when you let go: God is there providing protection, love, strength and courage to face each day. It’s by His power and grace that we are alive today. And if you ask me, with the Lord’s power and love protecting me, I have nothing to fear, I can trust in Him. Through the darkness, through the hills, the turns, the loops and throughout the ride I’ll raise my hands in the air and trust that He has a far better grip on me than I ever had on Him.