I hate to tell you this.
Or maybe I don’t…
Have you ever noticed that the most despairing realities all have this flip side that makes them cradles for hope when Grace steps in? When you shift enough to give them a look from the other side?
I walk down main street and my American sensibilities are shattered by the irony of this Southeast Asian reality.
Mansion, shack, mansion, shack, shack, mansion. What?
I meander down almost ancient streets in Latin America, find myself striding with purpose (and maybe a twinge of fear?) past one doorway, strolling past the next with perfect calm.
I guess that’s how they do it here. The distance between the good part of town and the bad is the thickness of a brick wall.
Seems so barbaric. Here, you know, we insulate ourselves. Our neighborhoods are zoned. And so we can rest easy on our sprawling front lawns knowing that all our neighbors are at least average citizens, and crime of any kind is at least 62 blocks away.
Do you know what has been pressed home to me this week?
Pressed home by the wanderings and returnings of my own heart, and photos of lands I love?
There is only one difference between the greatest bastion of virtue, and the “strongest bulwark of vice.”
You know what it is?
“One sin fostered.”
They’re built on the same street. In fact, they share the same address.
I don’t know about you, but that scares me more than a little.
And makes me run to Grace.
Jesus, forgive us.
The distance between the good part of town and the bad is far less than the thickness of a brick wall.
“The strongest bulwark of vice in our world is not the iniquitous life of the abandoned sinner or the degraded outcast; it is that life which otherwise appears virtuous, honorable, and noble, but in which one sin is fostered, one vice indulged.
To the soul that is struggling in secret against some giant temptation. . . such an example is one of the most powerful enticements to sin.”
It doesn’t take long to turn from light to darkness.
But then, it doesn’t take Grace long to turn one from darkness into light…