Vinegar is a highly acidic liquid. Milk is a base liquid. When you combine the two, it causes a chemical, neutralization reaction. Almost instantly, the proteins in milk (called casein) lump together. If you planned on drinking the milk you’ll discover it has soured and is no longer palatable. You might end up throwing it out because it is useless as a drink. But, this concoction is not entirely worthless. The combination is an excellent replacement if you want to bake a batch of delicious buttermilk biscuits. What was on the one hand considered awful, ruined and without use can become a vital ingredient in creating something worth eating (if you like biscuits).
We look at people around us who make horrible, awful choices for their lives and shake our heads. In our estimation, their lives are ruined, without merit, useless. We don’t think they can be redeemed or ever change their trajectory. Their sins have become like vinegar. However, if given the right circumstances and encouragement and hope their lives can be restored and become useful.
In the Bible we read the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. We can assume, this was not the first time she had participated in the act and she was well-known in the area. An angry crowd drags this woman (not the man) and throws her down at Jesus’ feet. “This woman is an adulteress and the law says she is to be stoned,” exclaim the Pharisees in the crowd. “What do you say?” Jesus pauses, stoops down and scribbles in the sand, and then says, “Whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” Of course, given those parameters no one could accuse her and the crowd dispersed. Jesus then takes her by the hand and, instead of berating her for her sin, he tells her, “Go and sin no more.”
This woman’s life could have been destroyed by the “vinegar” of her sins but instead her life was changed and we assume she lived a completely new life after her encounter with Christ. Instead of throwing people away because their lives have become curdled and spoiled, we need to embrace them and show them how their lives have value and how they can become useful and new. We aren’t called to be judges; we are called to be healers and restorers of spoiled lives.
Remember–every one of us has been touched with the “vinegar” of sin. Not one of us is unspoiled. All our lives have been curdled by our choices. But, we have been forgiven, redeemed, and have been given the hope that our lives can be used for something good. Let us extend the same redemption and hope to those who are hurting around us who feel their lives are too spoiled to be changed. Let’s make some biscuits instead of throwing out sour milk.
On December 26, 2015 my husband and I arrived home in the early evening after a Christmas party. I glanced at my Facebook and saw a post concerning a tornado near Dallas. We turned on the TV, to The Weather Channel, and saw footage of the massive, monster tornado moving toward Garland, Texas–where my son and his family live. My heart fluttered as my husband sent a text message to my son asking if they were okay. My son replied: “We’re in the bathtub in the bathroom right now.” There was nothing I could do but pray, in that moment, for God’s protection over my family. Minutes ticked by as we watched the devastating tornado live on television knowing my grandbabies with their parents were huddled together waiting for the storm to pass.
About five minutes later I received a text from my son: “We’re okay!” Over the next hour the story unfolded. They had heard the deafening roar of the tornado ripping and tearing things up outside their home but they were untouched. Just down the street, the story was different. Complete destruction and death was left in the wake of the storm. One breath and life was taken for granted and one breath later it became the most precious gift.
This past Saturday, on January 2, 2016, I received a text message from my sister alerting me to the fact her 9 month old grandson in Colorado was in a medical emergency. A half hour later my mother called to tell me my niece’s baby son was gone, he had passed away. The ensuing hours were filled with heartbreaking phone calls from my sister and mother. Why? What had happened? I don’t understand this God. I stood outside, looking up into the sky, crying and asking God for an explanation. One breath and life was taken for granted and one breath later it became the most precious gift.
We aren’t promised another day, another hour, another minute, or another breath. Life can change abruptly in just one second. Yet, we squander our minutes and worry and fret about trivial matters and fight over childish, ridiculous things and we don’t appreciate what we have or who we have or where we are. With one breath we can fill a lonely, desperate heart with hope or we can damage irreparably. With one breath we can reach out and help the struggling neighbor or child or family member or with one breath we can condemn and judge. With one breath life is a passing thought and in the next breath it is a treasure.
As the next days, weeks and months pass by consider the value of one breath. Think about the effect you are having in another life. Remember the God who has given you life and honor the gift by living nobly, honorably and honestly. Just one breath.