By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist
Summertime reminds me of the days spent with our cousins who lived on a farm near a quaint little town in eastern Oklahoma.
Susie and I always looked forward to visiting because their picturesque farm seemed hidden from the world. Susie and I were just captivated by our cousins’ lives and the goings-on at their house.
Swimming in the pond connected to a winding creek was something we relished. Just a little patch of water located about a quarter of a mile from the house, trees, green grass and native flowers surrounded the pond. Clear water made it easy to see the big rocks at the bottom and we spent many days just playing and splashing away. We used old inner tubes from huge tractor tires so all five of us could sit on it one at one time.
But one of the best times I remember at my cousins’ house was one summer that involved a paint job. There had been an old chicken house on the farm, and since our last visit our uncle had repaired it and wondered if we would like to paint it.
We thought painting sounded like fun so we all agreed. With pails and white paint, we five girls, set out to paint the chicken coop. We all put great effort into the project and soon realized that with the result of the white paint, old lumber blended in with new replaced boards. Aged boards that once bore the marks of days before soon took on a new and fresh look.
After the first day, we were covered with patches of paint on our clothes and hair. After two days, we finished and all of us were so proud. The old chicken coop looked amazingly different. On the outside, the once old-looking chicken structure looked brand new, clean and impressive. But the inside was a different story.
The next day we gathered the eggs. Even though the old house looked new on the outside, clean and changed, we soon realized it was the same on the inside.
We had to watch where we stepped in the old chicken coop and be wary of and on guard for bull snakes that sometimes crawled around the chicken nests and robbed the eggs. We had to be on the alert that the old hens that sat on the eggs would not sharply peck our hands when we tried to flutter them away to gather the eggs.
There still were some flies in the old chicken shack, and it was still dim and stinky.
No matter how the outside looked, the inside was the same old chicken coop. Any spiritual connection?
Sometimes we may think we can fool God because on the outside, we might be able to fool people. We may dress in our self-righteous robes and look exalted and in our sanctimony, appearing clean and spotless on the outside. We may play the game of looking and acting great and consequently fool everyone around us.
Yet, only God knows what is in the heart. A whitewashed job on the outside by cleaning up our act just does not impress God at all.
What that old chicken house needed was a thorough cleaning inside to match the outside. That’s what God does to a person when he comes into their life. He cleans from the inside out and gives each of his children a new nature.
I suppose that old chicken coop would not have been the same if it had been spotless and clean on the inside. But what difference did it make? They were just chickens, what did they know?
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org