Jackie and Jillian lived with their mom and dad near a large swamp. In this swamp there were many alligators. Jackie's mom told them never to play with the little baby alligators, saying this was too dangerous. She would hold Jackie and Jillian on her lap and say,
---You must never play with them. Their mommy and daddy could slip up on you and eat you for their dinner! She would then hug them close and ask,
---Promise me you will listen to what I have said. Both of you promise me right now!
The children promised to leave the young alligators alone, saying they would only watch them from a distance.
Jackie was stubborn though: he saw no harm in throwing a piece of bread now and then to the little gators. But soon the little gators were coming toward the children. As they came nearer, Jackie would throw the bread closer to himself and his sister.
One day he stretched out his hand with a large piece of bread in it and one of the little gators took it right out of his hand! Jackie squealed with delight...
Soon Jackie and Jillian were picking up the little gators, scratching their stomachs, which the little gators’ seemed to like very much. They did not tell their mom about what they were doing, as she had made them promise not to play with them. Secretly they had broken their promise. They thought that playing with the little gators and having fun was more important than keeping their promise.
One day Jackie started walking down the hill to see where the little gators were. Jillian yelled,
---Watch out Jackie!
Jackie jumped back and ran up the hill. He was really scared. There was a large gator in the weeds beside the trail and if he had gone a little farther the gator would have knocked him down with its big tail. Jackie was so scared that he could not go back for several days.
But Jackie missed his little gator friends.
Jackie did finally go back, but he watched very carefully for the big gators. Now you know that gators looked like a piece of a big log when it is in the grass. Some of them get eighteen feet long and could swallow a child very quickly.
The little gators' were now about two and a half feet long. They were still so small that when Jackie and Jillian sat on the grass they could climb right up into their laps to eat the bread they had brought.
Then one day one of the little gators got his foot caught in Jackie's pocket and when he couldn't get loose the little gator began to make a noise. The mommy gator heard him cry and started swimming to the bank. Jillian saw her and yelled to Jackie,
---Let's go, right now! Jillian was also holding a little gator and as she got up to run it got its little claws stuck in her pants. She called to Jackie and said.
---Go and get mom.
---No, he said. She will spank us, you know that.
---I don't care Jackie. She began to cry and she started yelling and screaming as loud as she could.
Their mom was picking berries nearby and hearing Jillian's cry for help she rushed over. When she saw the trouble they were in and the large alligator coming up the bank: she grabbed the little gator by the tail and threw him down the bank. She told Jillian to run while she freed Jackie of the other little gator.
By this time the mommy gator was nearer than before. She threw the other little gator in front of its mommy and they all ran like crazy. Jackie and Jillian knocked over the bucked of berries and the little gators started eating them as if nothing had happened.
Jillian was crying and her mom asked her,
---Have you been bitten?
---No, she said. More than anything she was crying because she had disobeyed her mom. Jillian whimpered and said,
---If you had not been near mom, we might have been eaten. Salty tears run down her cheeks. She went on,
---I couldn't run with the little gator hanging on my clothes. Had I fallen down the mommy gator would have surely gotten me. I know that we must be punished for not obeying you. I am really sorry, mom.
---What about you Jackie?
---I am sorry too mom, said Jackie. Please don't tell dad. He wiped the tears from his eyes and continued,
---Let's move to town mom, I don't want to live here near the gators anymore!
---As for telling your dad, mom said, I must, he will be very disappointed in both of you, she said.
---As for moving into town, there are worse things in town than gators. There are robbers and liars. There are lots of bad things that people do that gators don't do. If you stay away from the gators they won't bother you. But if you live among people that do bad things, you might start doing as they do.
---But mom, we would never do stuff like that.
---Yes we would, said Jillian. We lied to mom about not playing with the gators, and when that boy from town was out here we both took a draw off his cigarette.
---Yes, sister, but one draw off a cigarette is not a habit.
---Son, said mom, all habits have a starting point, yours seems to be lying, and the next thing could be stealing or even hating your parents.
Jackie looked down in shame as his mother continued,
---Once you are hooked you can't just quit even thought you want too. She thought for a moment and then said, "It is like this Jackie, you would be like a fish who wanted the bait on the hook, but after he got it and found it had a hook in it he sure wants to let go, but he can’t. Sometimes they tear themselves loose from the hook, but in doing so they are wounded badly.
---I forgive you for disobeying me and I am glad I was able to save you from the mommy gator. There are many mothers and dads who wish they could deliver their children from the habits they had started. These habits are ruining their lives...but they can’t. You must ask God and your father to forgive you of your wrong. They will both forgive you if you asked with a right heart and have no intentions of doing such things again.
---Why should we ask dad to forgive us mom, we didn't disobey him? Jackie was puzzled.
---Well, son remember what you learned in children's Bible class how that two people, when they are married, are like one person?
---Yeah mom, I remember.
---Well, when you sin again me you sin against your dad. It is just like wherever you and Jillian go you represent your dad and me. So you must always do what is right. When you sin against anyone, you sin against God.
---Mom is a little lie counted as sin? Jackie asked.
---Jackie, there are no little lies. All lies are sin to God. Lies are like the little gators. They are small in the beginning and seem harmless, but over time they grow and become more dangerous. Both of you remember that.
When their dad drove up Jackie ran to hide while Jillian ran to the car and told her dad he needed to punish her because she had lied to her mom. Dad picked her up and carried her into the house and asked his wife what this was all about?
When she told him, he said.
---Where is Jackie?
---When he saw the car he ran and hid himself, said Jillian. I'll go and get him.
When they got back dad asked Jackie to explain the whole thing to him. This Jackie did starting from the first time they fed the little gators to the end when the little gators ate the berries.
---So, you two split my pie! You and Jillian will have to go pick more berries and no TV for two weeks.
Two weeks!, Exclaimed Jackie. Isn't that too much?
---Well, if your mom hadn't gotten there before the mommy gator there would be no more TV....ever!
---Oh, dad, don't say that it still scares me! Jackie got the chills and shivered.
---Me too, said Jillian. She hugged her dad really big.
---I sure am glad to be home with you and mom.
Always remember kids to do what is right. As you grow up you may think that you know the best way, but the love and advise that your parents give you comes from their heart. So listen, because it just may save your life one-day.
Elder Carl Stewart
House of Prayer Sabbath Ministries
Written: September 1997
Copyright: 2001 ©