Listen to your conscience

Recently I read two stories about Native American Indians which are so instructive I thought they deserved a wider audience.

The first one is a made up story to teach people about…. well I’ll let you first try and work out the moral as you read it!

Once upon a time there lived a young Native American boy who felt he was ready to become a man. The chief of the tribe said “To become a man you must first survive in the high mountains for a week. If you survive then you will be considered a man”.

So the lad set out for the mountains on his quest to become a man. Climbing to the highest mountain he suddenly noticed a rattlesnake lying on a patch of snow. The young lad was surprised to see a snake this high but he was even more surprised when the snake spoke to him! “Please have mercy on me and help me” said the shivering snake. “I am lost and cold, far from home. Please pick me up and carry me back to the valley where it is warm. If I stay here I will surely die.”
The lad drew close but was careful not to get too close because he knew that this kind of snake was deadly. “I know your kind” said the boy. “You will bite me when I pick you up.” The snake replied “Oh I promise I won’t bite you. I will be your friend if you help me. You can trust me.”

The boy thought it over and decided that any kind of snake that could talk must be a special snake. So he picked it up and carried him all the way down to the warm valley. He gently placed the snake on the ground and immediately the snake struck the boy on the neck! The boy screamed “You bit me! You promised that you wouldn’t. Now I am going to die.” With an evil hiss the snake said “So what! You knew exactly what I was when you picked me up. What a fool you are. So long loser”!

And the moral of the tale? Well the story aims to warn that in adult life, temptations try to persuade us to go against our better judgement. Temptations try to get us to disobey and ignore God’s will for our lives by making us think such sinful behaviour won’t harm us or kill us. It tries to make us believe it is our friend and that there won’t be any nasty consequences should we indulge in it. When such temptation is believed we have only ourselves to blame when things fall a part and we get bitten in the neck! Scripture is quite emphatic “God is not mocked, whatever a man sows that he will also reap” (Galatians Ch 6 v7). This is a moral fact of life from which there is no escape, no matter what may be believed to the contrary. Going against our better judgement by ignoring God’s will for our lives and rejecting His commandments never works because there are always consequences to face. (In this life as well as the next).

To see what the dire consequences of sinful behaviour appear like in reality one has only to look at the pitiful state of our society today. Whether the sin is a general neglect of spiritual matters, a sinful relationship, a sinful abuse of drink or drugs or whatever, there are inescapable consequences which cause harm and hurt. Our society, indeed our entire nation as a whole is a modern day example of how giving into temptation only ever brings misery, despair and harm. Sinful ways never ever work!

The second story I came across is of a real event which again I felt has much to say.
Sometime ago a Native American and his friend were walking near Times Square in Manhattan. The sounds of the city were almost deafening with the roar of traffic and the bustle of commuters. Suddenly the Indian said “I hear a cricket”! His friend laughed and said “How can you possibly hear a cricket above all this noise?” “No I’m sure of it”! The Indian listened more intently and then walked across the street to where some bushes were growing. There beneath the branches, sure enough he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly shocked. “That’s incredible, you must have super-human ears”! “No not at all” the Indian replied. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening out for.” “What do you mean?” his friend replied. The Indian said “People listen out for what is really important to them. I specially listen for sounds of nature which means I can hear it above the roar of traffic. You aren’t interested in such matters so you don’t notice it.”

This incident reminds us that people will only hear God “speaking” to them if they are really listening out for Him. If they are in tune with God, they will notice Him at work in their lives and they will be able to hear Him when He provides guidance and direction, comfort and help. If  however, He is not important to them then what He says and does will go unnoticed and unheard. God will not force Himself on anyone. If someone is really determined to live just for themselves and not for God then they won’t hear God’s Voice above the roar and noise of their busy lives. Scripture warns however that “now is the accepted time and now is the day of Salvation” (2nd Corinthians Ch 6v2).God is speaking to us all in the here and now so let us make sure we are really listening to and acting upon His message before it is too late and the judgement of this world begins.