Just before bed, I sanded the second coat of joint compound on some bedrooms now that we’re empty-nesters.  To keep dust from billowing throughout the house, I stapled a plastic sheet between the dining room and the hallway.  It also had a second purpose: to keep our cat out of the dust.

That was not to be.  When we got out of bed the next morning, we found a very distressed pet covered in white powder meowing on the wrong side of the plastic.  Curious, she had nosed her way under the sheet and then found herself unable to exit–much like a minnow would enter a trap.

We were unhappy with her, but because we love her, we got her out and dusted her off.  Within minutes of setting her down, though, we were dismayed to find her once again on the other side of the plastic!

As I often do, I saw this as a spiritual illustration.  God tries to protect us by giving us clear limits for living our lives, but we rail against the translucent sheet, believing that He is keeping us from worldly ‘fun’ we could be having.  Sometimes, we’re just curious.  Often we believe that we can just nose under the plastic a little, but a little turns into more until we’re trapped.  We cry out for help, and God rescues us, dusts us off, and sets us back to safety.  He’s perhaps a bit disappointed that we went past the limits He has set up for us, but He loves us.

But then we do the unimaginable.  We return to the very sin that we’ve been saved from.  We once more go beyond the plastic and find ourselves covered in white powder.  Sometimes we curse ourselves for once more being deceived and think ourselves unloved or incapable of obedience.  Often we turn against God, believing Him incapable of keeping us from our situation.

Eventually, we can find ourselves in the situation of those spoken of in 2 Peter 2:19-22:

“… a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

We must not be a washed sow wallowing once again in the mud or a dog returning to its vomit.  Rather, we must submit to our good Father’s limits, knowing they are there for our good.  Then we won’t be a minnow caught in a trap — or a dust-covered cat beyond the plastic.