Don’t fall off the wagon

Getting over a mess? More than a decade ago, I opened my front door to find the head of a large speckled trout looking up at me with a dead stare.

That is not the way I like to begin my day. The culprit was ol’ Clark, a young Labrador. He was known for leaving a wake of destruction that would make a pig blush, but the hope was Clark would reform. His past spoke for itself.

Yes, Clark could break through to the core of a golf ball in short order, leaving the insides stringing across the porch. And that was just one of his tricks.

He had a thing about people watching TV, so he would yank the cable line off a wall. He’d pull it out of the house, mangling it until there was no chance of airwaves traveling through the cord.

He had a real social problem. He wanted to be inside with people. He yearned to be a part of the group. When the intensity of his longing peaked, he would take a running leap at the window. Trying to gain entry, he would crack glass on impact.

He enjoyed pillaging the woods and bringing his plunder home for inspection. It doesn’t stop there. Some eat for nourishment. Clark chewed on everything because he could. He couldn’t stand clean. Clark was a troubling dog.

Company was coming and the landscape of the yard looked like there had been a groundhog on the loose as well as a demolition crew that forgot to clean up after the explosion.

It took a couple of hours picking up, throwing away, bleaching, window washing and restoring cable. Clark looked a tad bewildered, but he seemed to embrace his new surroundings. He actually thrived in his clean world. For three days, Clark seemed transformed. Puppyhood survived.

That is, until I opened the door and about planted my foot on the head of that speckled trout.

With a shrill voice, I announced Clark had fallen off the wagon. His fondness for the filthy had returned with a smelly vengeance. Trying to rid my mind’s eye of scales and smells, I began to ponder the that’ll preach moment.

So many times I have tried to clean up for others. I have stepped in and tried to right a wrong, pulling someone out of the fire, all with good intentions and hopeful motives.

For a season it seemed to help, but often the dilemma and their demon returned with ugly vigor. Could the problem be that I did the bailing, while the sinking soul didn’t have to lift a finger? They just assumed it was rescue time again. Each cleanup swept the old junk away, but nothing good replaced the bad habits. Hey, I’ve been just as guilty of that in my own life. Been there, done that.

Here’s the Scripture picture: “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Matthew 12:43-45.

It’s scary that a fish head can bring my mind to “think on these things” and the theology may be a little shallow, but ponder it a bit. Fill ’er up with the good stuff. I’ve got to go now. Obedience School, anyone?

Kandi Farris is a freelance correspondent and speaker on matters of faith and values.