"...her beauty captured his heart."
"Her dainty sandal caught his eye; her beauty captured his heart. Then the sword slashed through his neck." (Judith 16:9)
(A book in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament)
Surely this is one of those faces of which it is often said, "Only a mother could love it." Yet, as I look at this creature I do see such amazing beauty. The patterns and colors are exquisite, right down to those detailed racing stripes right above the menacing claws! I remember from biology classes that these sorts of markings are often meant to either defend the creature with camouflage, and/or aid them in attracting their next meal. In the case of the painted turtle I suspect that the markings aid in hunting because the claws on the end of the legs are used like fileting knives on the prey while the turtle grasps it in its mouth. "Oh look," said the unsuspecting fish, "what a pretty weed," right before it felt the clamping of the jaws and the slashing of the "Freddie Kruger-like" appendages!
Hmm, I think that's a similar story to the one I found in Judith, an apocryphal book of the Old Testament. She was renown for her beauty and used it to aid her in killing the general of the army and second in command to the king who was about to crush Judith's people, the Israelites. "...her beauty captured his heart. Then the sword slashed through his neck." (Don't worry. This is not a diatribe against beautiful women.) Judith became a heroine because God used her to save God's people. I only use the story as an illustration that just because something is beautiful, appealing, or makes us feel good does not mean it's necessarily safe. The blind lust of the general made him fall victim to the beauty of Judith.
I still remember the phrase from the 1960's, "If it feels good do it." I know the concept didn't originate with that decade. It's been around forever. Too often I watch as we fall victim to the notion that if something feels good with no apparent immediate danger or harm, then it must be okay. Surely something that seems so wonderful, something that "everyone is doing" can't be bad for us... can it? Our blind lust for power, money, prestige, sex, happiness, ________ (fill in the blank) leads us into the trap. Too late we feel the clamp-like grip of the jaws and the razor sharp claws of our own destruction leaving us bleeding physically, emotionally, spiritually, or relationally. Why didn't we listen to those who tried to warn us as they watched us go for the bait? Why did we have to repeat the same mistakes of generations before us? Why didn't we listen to the wisdom of God? We have powerful forces in our culture that work against our hearing the message of wisdom, God's message of health and wholeness. As people of God we must amplify God's Word for each other and those outside our community with our testimonies of living so the messages of destruction don't drown out the message of God's Hope!
I know in the future that there will be many things of "beauty" that will vie for my attention. I pray that God will show me the way to safety and health and that I will have the sense to listen. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
PS -- Several of you have encouraged me to publish "Wednesday Wonderings" as a book. I just found out that Wipf & Stock, the publisher of my other book, has agreed to publish a collection of "Wednesday Wonderings." I'll let you know about details as they develop. Thanks for your support.
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.