by Linda Veath Cox

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

~ Proverbs 21:23 NIV

It was supposed to be a very simple task. Cover the rose bushes with straw for the winter.

Since my rose garden had increased in size, instead of the small, easy-to-handle straw bales of past winters, I now needed a large round straw bale. And even though armed with a pitchfork, I still felt intimated by a bale that I viewed “eye to eye.”

As I pulled more and more straw from the sides and top of the bale, I noticed it looked somewhat like a cup and saucer. Hmmm. If I could just roll it over and pull straw from the “new top,” it would remain a nice round bale.

It took a lot of effort on my part, but I finally managed to roll that bale over.

Did you know that once a round bale rolls over, it just keeps going and going and unrolling and unrolling? Did you know that an unrolled round bale can leave a straw trail more than twenty-five feet long?

AND did you know that it is impossible to roll that straw manually back into a round bale? (Trust me. I tried.)

Since I couldn’t roll the straw up or hide that massive pile, I finally had to face the consequences of my mess.

Remind you of anything?

Ever said something you wish you could take back? Ever unroll that tongue and litter someone’s reputation or hurt a person or tell a lie? Once those words are said, they are said. And no matter how sorry we are for saying them, no matter how hard we try to roll them back into our mouths, they aren’t going back in there. It’s just too late.

My pitchfork, and as a last resort, a match—there are definite advantages to living in the country—cleaned up my straw mess. Oh that the messes we leave with our tongues could be cleaned up that easily. But they can’t.

The Scriptures speak much about the damage our tongues can do. Maybe a good exercise for all of us would be to look up tongue, speech, words, and other related topics in a concordance and Bible. Something tells me it might turn out to be an eye-opening and mouth-closing experience.

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

~ Psalm 141:3 NIV