As a child, I woke up early one morning while I was spending the night at a friend’s house. It was one of the first times that I had spent the night away from home and my parents (I cannot remember exactly how old I was at the time). I was the first person awake in the entire house and like a typical boy I was hungry. Now you have to understand how pumped up I was to be eating breakfast at a friend’s house because that meant one important thing – I was going to get the unhealthy, bad-for-you, sugar-loaded cereal. In the Cromer house growing up we typically had healthier cereal choices to start your morning such as Cheerios, Chex, and King Vitamin. As I got older, mom eventually caved and stocked our cabinets with cereal such as Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, and Fruity Pebbles. However, at the time of this story we only had the healthier options, so you can imagine how pumped little BC was to find a cabinet full of sugary cereals. Full of giddiness, I poured my sugary cereal into my bowl, went to the refrigerator, grabbed the milk, and poured the perfect amount of milk (you know where you have a little sugary-saturated pool of milk that you can drink after all the actual cereal is gone). I went to take my first glorious bite and something happened I did not anticipate happening. I immediately and violently spit the bite out because it tasted awful. After a little investigation, I realized that I had put buttermilk in my cereal. At the time I had no clue what buttermilk was and how buttermilk was different from real milk, but I knew from then on I wanted nothing to do with buttermilk.
Looks can be deceiving can’t they?
Recently I discovered a passage in Scripture that I had somehow missed the previous 26 years that talks about this same topic. Maybe I have never read it or I had skipped over it until I had one of those illumination moments.
Exodus 15:22-27 tells an amazing account of Moses and the Israelites in their journey from slavery in Egypt to the promised land. At the time, the Bible says that they had been traveling through the wilderness without water when they walk up on a water source in Marah. They quickly figure out that this water is not drinkable because it is extremely bitter. From simply looking at it, it looks like normal water but looks can be deceiving. Sounds a lot like my buttermilk experience, doesn’t it?
There are other things in life that are the same way, aren’t there?
Look at sex. God designs and commands sex to be under one context – marriage. No exceptions. However, the world says something different. The world says if it feels good do it. It is no big deal. It is just sex. Today’s media says the same thing. Heather and I recently watched an episode of House where two doctors pursue a non-committal, strictly sexual relationship. MTV has a reality show where a bisexual woman plays a Bachelor-type game with both men and women as contestants. The message is clear: sex is not that big of a deal and it is temporary.
So many people know that message cannot be further from the truth. Outside of the context God designed for sex, people find themselves heart-broken, confused, filled with guilt, and feeling cheap. Just like my buttermilk story and the water in Exodus 15, looks can be deceiving.
Can you think of another life example where looks can be deceiving? Please share them. It is how we learn and be better people.
The Exodus 15 story does not end with the people complaining, unsatisfied, and thirsty. God performed a miracle through Moses by changing the bitter water to clean, sweet water. The people went to sleep that night not thirsty for the first time in at least three days. What a beautiful picture of God giving His people the real thing over a cheap imitation.
Today be on guard against imitations. Be careful to pursue things that might look like the real thing but really tastes bitter. Do not fall into Satan’s traps. Remember, looks can be deceiving.