I was nearly out of lotion and saw a sale–some fancy stuff for the same price as good old Lubriderm. I stood there at the display amid way too many choices. How do you decide between apple pomegranate, vanilla fluff, gingerbread, sugar plum, lemon twist, and blue ocean? Well, I was afraid the last one would make me smell like salt cod so that was a no-brainer.

I picked up the gingerbread tube and thought I would just flip open the top and give it a sniff. Nothing. I do have more trouble these days smelling things because of all the medications. So I decided to give the tube a light squeeze so a puff of scented air from inside the tube would give me a better whiff.

Instead of air, a big glop of orange creamsicle-colored lotion shot straight into the air and arced over to the catchall shelf of sorts that I carry in front of me. Plop! A big orange spot appeared on my bright blue sweater.

Wait! Is anyone looking? Did anyone see? I looked around guiltily and then, because I had nothing else with me, started wiping if off with my finger. The sweater was dark enough and nubby enough that the spot no longer showed, but I had a big dollop of lotion to get rid of and the best I could think was to just rub it into my hands and arms. I am sure the security people were laughing their heads off as they viewed the monitor that picked up this “I Love Lucy” moment.

You know what? I did not like the smell. A friend later asked me if I had spilled machine oil all over myself. No, just gingerbread body lotion, and I carried it about with me for a long eight hour day because I had a doctor’s appointment afterward. Yuk!

Let that be a lesson to you. Sometimes we start wondering what we are missing out there in the big, bad world. I have been good all my life-brought up “in the church,” taught to obey all authorities–parents, teachers, policemen–memorized all the no-nos for a Christian, and the scriptures to go along with them. If all those things out there are so bad, why do so many spend their lives pursuing them? What do they know that I don’t? Just one little whiff is all I want.

But that little whiff can easily become a big glop of smelly stuff that we carry with us far longer than the actual experience lasts. Consequences can raise a big stink in your life. In fact, they can ruin your life, and even the lives of those you love and have no desire to hurt.

It is not a question of what those folks out there know that you don’t; it’s a question of what you know that they don’t-that sin is deceptively easy to fall into and sometimes impossible to get out of. God will forgive you, but he will not wash away the consequences-like ruined relationships, like destroyed trust, like physical diseases or injuries, like jail time and a record that follows you everywhere.

Though I did not really like it much, that little glop of lotion did not smell quite that bad when it landed on my sweater. But as the day grew longer, it began to reek. Sin will do exactly the same thing.

There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (Selected verses from the 38th Psalm.)

Article by Dene Ward