"Do not feed the ducks" What?!? I hate it when you are having a wonderful time with your kids, feeding the ducks little bread crumbs next to a beautiful lake when one of the kids spots the sign, "Do not feed the ducks." Oh, come on!!! I was happily tearing pieces of bread, laughing with the kids, making memories, not even thinking we may be "breaking the rules" when our ignorant bliss was interrupted by a child who put their reading skills to work. Nuts! This was a dilemma for a recovering-Pharisee who doesn't think it is good to break rules. (I still twitch if we ENTER through the EXIT door at Walmart, but it's only a twitch instead of a full convulsion. That's progress!)
This may be a simplistic example of the law and its power, but until the "law" is stated in black and white, how else do we know what rules we are breaking? In Romans it says, "For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet.'" I'm going to agree with this statement, even when it comes to feeding the ducks. Until we saw the sign, we had no idea we had done anything "wrong". This story brings me to a fork in the road.
One path in the road would take us deeper into the story where I'd tell you how the story ended - how we responded to the sign and what lesson my kids and I talked about later than day. It would expose whether we got "caught" ignoring the sign's warning. Or maybe it would tell a simple, uneventful law abiding citizen's tale of heading home with half a bag of bread.
But I want to take you down the other fork because it takes my thought the direction I want it to go. (I'll tell you what we chose to do at the end.) I used to think being a law-abiding citizen was one of the most important things in life! It was an obsession, especially in regards to my driving. Truly, I could not set my speedometer one iota above the limit without feeling guilty, so I would never do it. But the toughest place to deal with Laws and Rules was with the spiritual rules that I thought were God's rules. Some of you may have read my earlier blog Thou Shalt Not Chew Gum in Church. Well, those were some of the rules I honestly thought were "laws". And on top of all of that, I believed passionately that I needed to be perfect in them - not going beyond them one iota. Like the verse says in Romans, the law (God's real law) was given so I would know I was a law breaker and see that I wasn't like Him -- perfect. Oh, let me tell you, if anyone tried to be perfect, it was me! And I totally couldn't do it. As a little girl, I even remember sitting on my bed concentrating and determining to make NO mistakes that day. Of course, I was bummed at the end of those days. I couldn't even go one whole day without blowing it.
You see, I have started to learn that I can't begin to measure up and come out perfect when put next to the law. But that's alright. At least, it is since Jesus. There is no way I could ever "measure up" to absolute perfection (aka holiness.) So, he took my place since I couldn't do it on my own, paid all the "Fines" or "Judgments" the law had against me, and gave me His perfection. He paid-in-full with His own blood - priceless! This is what grace is!!! Funny how it's still habit to want to stand next to the Righteousness Ruler and measure, somedays. When I forget about his GRACE, this is when the guilt comes flooding in, because I go back to trying to "be perfect" on my own, and fail miserably. But just like the day I realized the perfectly folded laundry wasn't an evaluation of anything important, I have learned that God isn't measuring me at all that way anymore! He isn't worried so much about whether I'm a law-abiding citizen as much as he wants me to be a Christ-abiding one. GRACE...His grace, the saving grace I love!
And the ducks...they did get fed - well! I'm sure those duck signs aren't "law", but more along the idea of what Captain Barbossa says in Pirates of the Caribbean, "...they're more like 'guidelines'".