You know when you are going somewhere different and you really know nothing about the place.
Then suddenly shortly before you travel you see a programme on television, or you read something in a book, or a friend says "did you know..." or you see something on the internet and it's about the place you are going to travel to.
Well that is what happened to me when I knew that I would be flying from Northern Ireland to the US to meet up with my husband after a work conference he was at in Hilton Head.
Way back nearly 30 years ago.
I was to meet Fred in Jacksonville, Florida and we were going to visit a few places in that well-known state.
Now getting to meet Fred was not the straightforward task it should have been but that might be written about another time.
Even our first night in Florida was not at all what we expected so that might be in another story too.
But for this blog post I'm thinking about the alligator.
So back to what I was saying previously.
Shortly before the trip I saw a programme on the television about alligators in Florida and thought I would watch a little bit of it because we were going to Florida and we were going to go to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine.
This programme was not about alligators that are kept on farms or even in the swamps, instead this was about the fact that alligators can be found in other strange (for wild animal sightings) places like back gardens and roadside ditches.
Fred had not seen this so when we set off in the hire car the day after we arrived in Jacksonville I started to tell him all about it and I said we needed to watch out for these large drainage ditches at the side of the road and we might see an alligator.
Well one of the first places we visited was that Alligator Farm in St. Augustine and that was nearly too close to alligators for me and I really did not like the thought of being near one when I did not have a large, strong fence between us.
Well a live one that is because I do love the sculpted alligators in the Musical Animal Fountain in Tervuren.
Having spent almost a week in Florida I was still always keeping an eye on these ditches as we drove along but never really expected to see anything. Then as we were driving towards the Kennedy Space Centre we saw a car stopped at the side of the road and two people out standing with a camera pointed towards a ditch.
Well we slowed down to see and
YES! An alligator was in the ditch!
We pulled over for a minute had a quick look and then drove off again wondering why that couple were standing there with a camera.
The simple answer is - they wanted to take a picture of the alligator at the side of the road but obviously they had never seen the programme I had seen because if they had they would have known how fast an alligator can move and if that alligator darted towards them suddenly they may not make it back to the car in time.
Now I was thinking that even if I had not seen that programme I still would have had
But I certainly would have no intention of putting myself in the position where I might have been chased or attacked by an alligator because I could not have wrestled one and overcome it.
As Christians we should know to treat sin in the same way as we should treat an alligator:
stay away from it.
Even if we have not been specifically told exactly how quickly sin can grab a hold of us and conquer us, regardless of how long or strongly we may try to wrestle with it; we should by instinct know that it is wrong to stop and have a look at the sin or spend a little time trying to capture what that sin is really like.
We should curb our curiosity.
Sin is our enemy, sin is something that Jesus has died to release us from and we must not be tempted to even have a look toward it because we don't want to be back in the grasp we have been freed from.
It is our choice.
We can remember and be encouraged that even though we cannot overcome sin by ourselves;
we can do so with God's help.
We need to hold unto the fact that Jesus set us free from that grip sin had of us and He wants to help us stay free.
Jesus says He will be with us forever and while He is with us He is going to help us against sin.
Let's allow Christ to help us, to give us His strength to turn away from sin as soon as we recognize it.
So just as we were sensible enough to stay in the car when we were near that alligator we all know that we can stay in the safety of Jesus when we see that sin lurking nearby.