I have one announcement before we get started.
The Bridge Week is coming. Tell your wife. Tell your kids. Tell your husbands, too, ’cause The Bridge Week is for e’rybody up in here.
One thing our mission life has afforded us as a family is a chance to check out all manner of foreign attractions. Our day-to-day life is a little average and mundane, but when we have a family member visit, we try to do some fun stuff. You know, show them the beauty, majesty and oddity of Paraguay.
Christie’s mom came for a visit so we were planning a road trip. The lure of a road trip is magnified tenfold outside of your own home country. Anything can happen. Even the roadkill of exotic animals is interesting. We were going to make a southern loop and see some sites for the first time while giving Nana her tourist dollars’ worth.
On the fly we decided to make a left turn (not in Albuquerque) and ride down to what the map showed as a riverfront road. It wasn’t the Pacific Coast Hwy but still, we wanted to see the river. Forty miles later we were at the river.
The road shown on the map was a brand new asphalt service road on top of the dike. Access to it was restricted to government personnel only. There was however a parallel road leading to the city we wanted to visit.
Made of dirt and rocks.
And potholes and cow pies.
However it was shorter than going back and driving around. Thirty five miles later we arrived. My guts were basically a foamy mass, having been shaken to bits on the rough road for nearly an hour. At least we could NOT see the river the whole time because of the modern road and dike.
As we came into town we saw a sign for a zoo touting only animals indigenous to Paraguay. Cool. We needed a break. Visiting a foreign zoo is exhilarating. Sure, the prospect of seeing weird new creatures is cool, but the adrenaline rush at seeing the rusty chicken-wire enclosures can’t be matched.
You want to up your zoo ante? Place giant, hungry carnivores in bunny cages and then fence in the property so no one can get out.
This particular zoo was funded by donations to a non-profit foundation. It was really nice comparatively. The cages were spacious and strong. The animals looked well fed and cared for. However, even though the cages were strong they still didn’t really separate you from the animals completely. You could reach through most fences into the area with the animal.
Paraguay is home to a variety of cats including a type of jaguar (a word taken from the Guarani language, by the way). We wanted to see the big cats, so we made our way around to the display. At that time they had only one. He was a male about 10 months old. We stood there watching him play and tumble all over his area. He was like a toddler.
My daughter said, “He. Is. Adorable.” Then she asked us to take her picture.
She sat down on the edge of the enclosure and faced us with the Jaguar to her back. This predator got up and walked over to the fence line where she was. He then placed his cheek against my daughter’s shoulder and started nuzzling her.
She turned and he stuck his tongue through the fence and licked her hand. This killer was a glorified house cat. He hadn’t matured yet. There was still some development needed before he grew into a dangerous threat. He just looked so cute. Then a few months later he would eat your spleen.
In that same way I think about how I fool myself sometimes. How I say to myself, “Oh, I can handle that. I won’t let it get out of hand.”
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Hebrews 11:25
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:15
I ignore the potential threat until it has become a real problem. I have to be constantly vigilant. I am good at seeing the “major” sins. It’s those things that are a little more non-traditional that get me. The sarcasm and hurtful words. The demi-god of private time or personal space in front of service. The placement in my heart of things or entertainment in front of God or my family. Those things are fun for a season but when more mature or developed, they bring a separation that is destructive.