Drawing Lines in the Sand

By Tony Coppola

“…yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” ~ known, but not by us yet

I’m no quitter, I’ll tell you that.

I’ve been in three fist fights in my life and it’s never been with “a guy my own size.” Nope. All three were with guys bigger and stronger than me. And not only that, even though I was hurt worse than my opponent on two of the occasions, I was not the one to stop the fight on any of them.

I’ve tightly held the attitude that you need to hit a bully square in the mouth. And with as much might as you can muster.

Not only am I no quitter, I’m not afraid of a good fight. Nope again.

There’s something that tells me you and I aren’t too different in this regard. I’d like to proudly think this feisty, combative attitude is unique to us US Americans. But I also think our friends sharing this continent to the north and south of us might have a thing or two to say about that, let alone many others around our ever shrinking globe.

All of us seem to be mastering the art of drawing lines in the sand and righteously fighting for what we believe is right these days. For what we believe is moral, or ethical. And God help those who try and stop us, eh!?!

Have you ever thought about where the idea of drawing a line in the sand originally came from though? Have you heard about the story of the man who drew the first line in the sand?

If you haven’t heard the historical accounts of the event, it’s also where the saying, “ Let those who are without sin among you throw the first stone,” comes from.

When reading through the account (John 8), who in the story do you most identify with? Deep down, do you see yourself like the self-righteous leaders in the community snaringly staging the scene? Do you long to mirror the truly righteous man writing on the ground with his finger, reminding everyone we are just as sinful as anyone else? What about the guy not mentioned but most likely stoically ready to hold the coats like he did when they stoned Stephen to death? Or are you most like the adulterous woman being saved from condemnation?

If you said the man writing on the ground with his finger, drawing a line in the sand, let’s take a little closer look at who He is.

While He was the person to overturn the money tables in the synagogue, He was also the person who was born outside in a manger because nobody had a place for his pregnant mother in the city.

While He had thousands and thousands of followers longing to be fed, He also died alone; His closest friends denying they even knew Him.

He ate with the dregs. He had no home. They tore out His beard and drove a crown of thorns in His head.

They spit on Him and punched Him in the face. They even whipped Him with glass-lined leather straps, tearing the skin off His body.

They hung Him on a tree between two thieves, mocking Him to save himself.

What do you think? Do you still see yourself as the one with enough righteousness to draw lines in the sand?

As much as I want to identify with Him, the truth is I’m more like the other three types in the story. Probably closest to the adulterant woman than I’d openly like to admit.

I have no place drawing lines in the sand, do I?

It seems as though in my feistiness, my natural inclination to fight til the end for what I think is right has turned the original idea of drawing lines in the sand upside down.

He is the one who writes on the ground with his finger and draws lines in the sand for us while we surrender our stones, while we stop holding the coats of those throwing stones, while we walk away free from condemnation.

The heart and the will of that original line drawer is not like mine. Although, I think He wants it to be. I do. I want my heart to be like His. I want to be filled with that kind of love for even the lowest of adulterers … like myself.

I’ve never impacted anyone’s life for better by punching them in the mouth. Essentially throwing stones. I suppose instead of fighting, then, I should surrender.

Surrender my stones and follow His example. Put down the coats and ask for forgiveness. Accept the free gift that wipes away my sins. Do what’s most meaningful rather than what I think is right.

Surrender my will for His.

Surrender.

#OneWord2021

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