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  • Baptist Beacon

Good people, bad decisions

by Tim Patterson

PLYMOUTH, MI – Betty was born and reared in Kiowa, Oklahoma. With striking features, cobalt blue eyes, blonde hair, and a personality that would give angels competition, Betty was the most beautiful girl in the county.

She and her parents lived on a small acreage farm just adjacent to the official city limits. Kiowa being a very small rural community was more like the country than a town. The most prominent features of the town were the feed store, school, and a handful of small churches. Betty’s dad worked for the Army Ammunition Depot and raised cattle.

She naturally grew up having a love for animals of all kinds. She had her own quarter horse which she began riding in events at the age of six. They had sheep, chickens, dogs, more cats than could be numbered, pigs, guineas, turkeys, rabbits, and her very favorite animal of all, a raccoon named Rosie.

Every morning before she left for school, she would hurriedly do her chores, and save enough time to play with her favorite furry friend. They would play hide-n-seek and ball if there was enough time. When Betty came home from school Rosie could be heard over all the noises of the farm as she was clamoring to be let out of her cage. As soon as the door was opened, up on the shoulders of her best friend she went. When Betty went about her afternoon work and play, Rosie went too. The two were inseparable. Friends for life.

One day "Doc", the veterinarian, was at the farm tending to one of the horses when he noticed Betty and her friend playing in the barn. He asked Jerry, her father, how long they had owned the raccoon and had she been spayed. He said that she had been in their possession for a couple of years and that the procedure had not been done.

"Doc" then began to explain that at a certain age, female raccoons would go through an enormous change and that in most cases they become violent and will turn on humans. Jerry couldn't believe that Rosie would do such a thing, but "Doc" convinced him that it would happen. He said that the best thing to do would be to release Rosie deep in the woods where she could not return.

After his discussion with "Doc", Betty and her dad had a long talk after supper. When he told her what he wanted to do, she began to cry and weep and "throw a country fit". She was broken-hearted, angry, confused, and defiant. At first her father was adamant about his decision, but after weeks of her moping and grieving he gave in and said she could keep Rosie, but she was to watch carefully for any changes.

Life went on normally for several months with no change at all in Rosie. Then one day Rosie growled at Betty and was very irritable. Betty didn't want to think that anything was wrong and didn't want to tell her dad. Besides, how could her loving, best friend turn against her? Maybe someone else might not be able to handle her, but there was no doubt that Rosie would never turn on her.

One morning, just before she left for school, Betty entered the cage with Rosie and was attacked viciously. Rosie clawed and bit her until she was a bloody mess. The fact is, that Rosie might have killed Betty had it not been for her mother hearing her screams and running to her aid with a garden hoe.

Betty received hundreds of stitches and several operations just to repair some of the damage. Her pain and suffering were unbelievable, but the scars that Rosie left behind were even more so. Night after night Betty would cry herself to sleep saying, "How could this happen to me? I had everything under control. She wasn't supposed to hurt me. She was my friend."

So many of us in life, like Betty, refuse to heed the warnings of the dangers around us. We are convinced that we have everything under control and though others may not have been able to handle it, we can!

A young teenage couple who knows without a doubt that their physical encounters will never get out of control. The upwardly mobile businessman needs a little help through the day so he snorts just a little of that “white powder” to give him a boost, assured he can quit any time. That lonely boy wants to be part of the group so he takes the latest fad drug just to fit in and will stop when he is accepted. (Despite the fact that his family has a long history of addiction.) Or the farmer who knows that he can grow just a little marijuana to help supplement his income and will only do it one season and then stop.

There are so many things in life that appear to be innocent and harmless, so much so that we believe we can control their side effects and negative attributes. We tell ourselves, “Those things won’t happen to me. I’m different.”

My friends, the fact is that our hearts and minds are a mess, and only He truly knows what is in them.We foolishly think we know our hearts, but alas, we do not! We all must listen and be obedient to the initial promptings of the Holy Spirit and heed the wisdom of those who have gone before us. If we do not, there is a high probability that we will step in stupid!

"The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel"

Proverbs 12:15 (NASV)



Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.


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