With chocolate brown Bambi eyes and a fun-loving personality, Mickey Hubbard holds a very special place in my heart.
Weighing in at six pounds and two ounces, my bundle of joy was definitely shown favoritism in the Hubbard household. He was the only one my husband and I allowed to sleep in our bed every night—contrary to the parenting advice I offer others. He received far more grace during my potty-training course, always got his way when he whined, and was allowed to go outside and play whenever he wanted. When he was grouchy, the other family members were blamed for his selfish disposition, and he was the only Hubbard who possessed his very own personalized dinnerware.
Mickey (a.k.a. “The Baby”) was my tan and silver Yorkie. After living a long and healthy life, he died two years ago, but his legacy lives on. To say that Mickey was an adored part of our family would be an understatement. He went to the beauty shop once a month, enjoyed treats of every kind, and when all the stockings were hanging in a row, Mickey’s was the shortest one, so Santa was sure to know.
As with any proud “Mama,” my Mickey could do no wrong. That is, until the night I left the supper dishes on the kitchen table in a rush to get my son to ball practice on time. We didn’t get to finish eating, so healthy portions of leftover spaghetti topped each plate. Mistake number one. Giving Mickey the benefit of the doubt, I assured everyone that “The Baby” wouldn’t dare disobey by climbing onto the table. Mistake number two.
When we arrived home after practice, Mickey didn’t greet us at the door as he usually did. There was no wagging tail and no licks of love.
Instead, we found him cowered in the corner, tail tucked and ears low. I didn’t have to guess the reason why. He had indulged himself to such an extent that his tiny tummy just couldn’t cope. He had thrown up all over the house.
Being the forgiving, compassionate “Mama” that I am, I graciously began to clean the regurgitated spaghetti piles and proceeded to make excuses for Mickey’s actions. Then, much to my surprise and disgust, Mickey committed what I would consider to be the ultimate doggie sin. He returned to his vomit. In other words, he ate one of the piles. I was mortified to say the least. How could he be sorry one minute and commit such a vile act the next?
Like Mickey, we are often sorry for what we have done, but then we return to our vomit. “As a dog returns to his vomit, so fools repeat their folly” (Proverbs 26:11). Why do we sometimes surrender to conviction, confess and repent of a specific sin, then turn right around and do it again? Paul explains, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).
The depravity of our sin nature tugs and pulls against the Holy Spirit in our hearts, which creates a battle between the truth of God and the lies of the enemy. When we return to a particular sin, we are believing a lie. We are pursuing some sort of payoff, pleasure, or benefit promised by the enemy. We believe the lie because we focus on the lie.
Freedom from sin is knowing the truth. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). We defeat the lies of the enemy when we know the Word of God, believe the Word of God, and live the Word of God. The battle over sin is not won through vows, oaths, or New Year’s resolutions. It is not won through willpower, teeth gritting determination, or anything we do in our own strength. It is won by putting on the full armor of God, and knowing that he is not only fighting for us, but has already won the battle.
When you are tempted to return to your vomit, reject the lies of the enemy, stand on the truth of God’s Word, and cling to his promises. When you blow it, confess your sins, repent, and receive the forgiveness and atonement of God. Thankfully, even when we do mess up and return to our vomit, we don’t have to wallow in it.
It took me a while to get over Mickey’s offense. After all, he did share my pillow. But Jesus offers instant and complete forgiveness. We are called to live victoriously in Christ, not in the guilt and shame of condemnation. Although we commit many vile sins against God, He loves us anyway. He even graciously cleans up our messes, washing our sins with the shed blood of Jesus, not just once, but over and over. His is the ultimate grace we do not deserve. To him be the glory.