Beatrix Potter is best known for her children’s book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Her story is heartwarming, exquisitely illustrated with the author’s own water color paintings. and gently moralistic (though it failed to deter my childhood disobedience). But Beatrix Potter wrote several other books, all of which lined my sister’s bookshelf — and probably still do. The collection includes The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, which you can read here at no cost. It only takes a few minutes to read, unless you linger over the pictures. This article will make a lot more sense if you’ll read the story,
Jemima Puddle-Duck fell into temptation, didn’t she? Trusting a fox who only wanted to dine on her unhatched eggs, she made a series of very stupid decisions. Temptation to get what she wanted (in a way that seemed easy and convenient) blinded her to an obvious danger. And even the dogs who rescued her from the fox ended up devouring her precious eggs. Her sin of inattention kept her from the one desire of her heart.
Reading The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck reminded me of a Scripture John and I recently read during our morning devotions together.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~~Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB95)
Before we get too hard on poor little Jemima, let’s think a bit about how often temptation gets the better of us. How often do we allow sin to entangle us so badly that even supposed plans of rescue backfire? Like stupid puddle-ducks, we waddle into sin and don’t even realize the implications of our waddling until we face destructive fallout.
As redeemed Christians, we must lay aside every sin, especially those life dominating ones that seem intrinsic to our nature. We might feel as if we could never overcome those habitual sins, and thus Hebrews 12:1-2 frustrates us. With my besetting sin of anger, for instance, I spent years hiding it, rationalizing it and flat out ignoring it. I built my nest on the premise that I couldn’t help my explosions because my Cerebral Palsy makes it difficult to control my emotional responses.
While it’s true that Cerebral Palsy indeed magnifies my expressions of anger, Satan used that fact to lure me into habitual outbursts of rage just as surely as Beatrix Potter’s gentleman fox lured Jemima Puddle-Duck to lay her eggs in his shed. When the Lord finally convinced me to lay aside anger, however, my first impulse was to turn to “Christian” counseling. Thankfully, finances and transportation issues prevented me from seeking professional counseling, but my pastor at the time knew enough pop-psychology to attribute my anger to “childhood trauma.” Like the collie who promised to help Jemima, “Christian” pop-psychology only entangled me more.
As John read Hebrews 12:1-2 to me last week, the Holy Spirit used verse 2 to show me how simple laying aside the sin which so easily entangles us really is. At this point we can leave the Jemima Puddle-Duck analogy aside, and focus on the real answer to dealing with sin — Jesus Christ.
Freedom from sin can’t come out of self-analysis, Plunging into our pasts with sin the presupposition that we were victimized by our circumstances just encourages us to linger in the sin, complaining that we have been conditioned towards that behavior. In contrast, when we look to Jesus, trusting His finished work on the cross and His promise that the Holy Spirit would help us (John 16:7), we remember His ability to bring us through temptation. Rather than being trapped in sinful patterns, we are released to live in righteousness.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. ~~Romans 6:1-7 (NASB95)
The idea that looking to Jesus as the means of laying aside the sin which entangles us seems amazingly simple, and yet it makes incredible sense. Praise the Lord that He is our source of deliverance! May we resist the urge to deal with sin apart from Him.Follow my blog with Bloglovin