By Elizabeth Prata
I was watching the “Best Commercials Ever” show the other day. Such memories. I had forgotten all about the two guys in separate limos, one asked the other through rolled down window, “Do you have any Grey Poupon?” It reminded me of the time…
…My former husband and I were live-aboard boaters, cruising the US coast and Bahamas. We were anchored in Inner Baltimore Harbor on a hot, hot Memorial Day morning. Baltimore is a nice little harbor but nearly 300 years of active marine use, combined with oozy, light Chesapeake mud, made for a very tenuous holding ground. We’d spent hours sweating and setting the anchor just right amid the growing number of boats also trying to find a spot to anchor. There was no breeze and the no-see-ums were eating us up. Safety, first, though. We finally got situated the way we wanted, appropriately distant from other boats and holding solidly. We went ashore to explore, walking around and heading for the city. I looked back one last time before the harbor disappeared from our view. “Who’s that on our boat!?”
A drunk houseboat driver had run over our anchor line and his prop was now snarled. He’d dislodged the anchor and now our two boats were drifting in tangled tandem. He had boarded our boat to try and untangle. It took us many hours to get things right, which included negotiating with an angry drunk, walking a long way to the boat store in 100 degree heat to buy another anchor line, and going through the re-anchoring process all over again, made harder since the harbor was more crowded now.
The harbor was afloat with many vessels, yachts, large and small power boats, jetskis, and those double seater paddle boats you can rent. It was festive, but busy. Finally we settled down with an ice tea under the sunshade. We breathed out and looked at each other, ready to declare this the most difficult and annoying anchorage ever. Then, THUNK. Jangled by our hard day, we scrambled to the bow where the noise came from. Looking over the railing we saw a rental paddleboat with two teenage boys who’d paddled UP our anchor line and were now half in and half out of the water, hanging on our just reset line. Innocently, they looked up at us and we looked back down at them. For a moment there was complete silence and held breaths. They broke the silence first, laughing, “Do you have any Grey Poupon?”
My husband didn’t think that was funny. But I did. (The Poupon question is a throwback to 1980s commercials for the French mustard).
I was cleaning up and organizing my computer files and found that story I’d written. That incident occurred before I was saved. But it got me thinking about the sin in others’ lives. We often speak of our own sin, and that is right and proper. But sometimes when we are walking well, secured, and dwelling in placid waters for a season, someone else’s sin disrupts us. We get entangled in their issue. We can drift.
Maybe (sadly) your spouse cheated. Maybe someone at work embezzled and you were accused for a time. Maybe a drunk driver smashed your car. Someone else sinned and you, though not innocent of all sin, for that moment, were living holy and walking right.
The impacts of someone else’s sin can entangle us, and can drag us into dangerous waters. We might become angry, resentful, bitter, jealous. We might begin to sin in other ways, justifying it because the origin of the negative circumstances was caused by someone else.
We live in a sinful world. Other peoples’ sin is going to impact us. I was proud of the way my husband handled it. (He wasn’t saved either). He didn’t get angry at the man, but persistently and doggedly stayed in communication until the drunk man’s wrong was made right. It did ruin our weekend though, caused us distress, and interrupted our safety for a time. And that was just a minor mishap. Never mind if the other person’s sin destroys a relationship, ends a life, or causes you to doubt God in anger.
How we handle negative impacts of other peoples’ sin is an indicator of the strength of our own walk. Have we absorbed enough scripture so that it will steady us when a life-comet hurtles into our own placid waters to interrupt the equanimity? Do we have a good prayer life so our first thought it so take it to Jesus and not take it out on the other person?
Do you have any Grey Poupon?
A trusted long time reader of my blog had it pop up hours after reading your essay, providential! Here is a short short from Pastor Adrian Rogers of the Ministry Love Worth Finding:
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