“For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7: 18-19)

Last week, I wrote, for the second time, about a basset hound I used to have.  This week, I want to tell you about Penny, a beautiful English collie I had later on.  (I know what you are thinking … that this column is going to the dogs.)

One day during my early teen years, my father brought Penny home, and she quickly worked her way into our hearts.  I had always wanted a collie.  You see, when I was younger, my favorite television program had been Lassie.

You may remember that series about a boy named Timmy whose mother was played by June Lockhart.  The show chronicled the adventures of Timmy and Lassie, his collie.  Often Timmy would get into some kind of jam and send Lassie for help.  Lassie would then go find an adult, usually Timmy’s father or mother.  Lassie would bark, and the adult would seem to understand what Lassie was saying.

Well, Penny had one thing up on Lassie.  You see, Penny could actually talk.  Now, I admit, her vocabulary was rather limited, and she sounded a lot like Scoobie Doo.  However, when we would come home, Penny would always greet us with a “Haaaaloooow, haaaaloooow!”  (Hello, hello.)

Also, when we would ask her if she would like something to eat, she would say, “Yaaa-uh.”  (Yeah.)  And, when we would say, “Penny, I love you,” she would answer, “Ah wuuuhve youuu.”  (I love you.)  Honest.  She could talk.

I loved that beautiful dog.  However, like my basset hound Julius, Penny had some peculiarities.  One, in fact, became a “fatal flaw.”

Penny liked to chase chickens.  Now, we had some chickens, and she would run them crazy chasing them.  Fortunately, our chickens had a large pen we could keep them in, and Penny couldn’t get inside.  So, we kept them separated. 

Unfortunately, Penny soon discovered the neighbors’ chickens.  They lived about a quarter of a mile down the road.  One day, she found her way down there.  Soon about two dozen white hens lay dead in their yard.

The neighbors were nice about it, and we paid for their chickens.  We also tried keeping Penny penned up or in the house.  That just didn’t work very well.

One day, Penny got out, and again the neighbors’ chickens lay dead on their lawn.  The neighbors were not quite so nice this time, but we paid for the chickens and promised to keep Penny penned up.

However, Penny’s end was inevitable.  One day, she disappeared.  We looked all over our farm for her.  Finally, we got in the truck and drove up and down the highway looking for her.  We found her about halfway between our neighbors’ place and ours, positioned like she was headed home.  But, she was gone.

It was a sad day.

That is a picture of how sin works.  I know in our modern society, we do not like to talk about sin.  It is just an “old fashioned” concept, some say.  However, the Apostle Paul tells us that sin is in our nature.  “All have sinned,” he says, “and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23)

Not only that, sin ultimately results in death.  Again, Paul reminds us, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6: 23)  Like Penny, we all have a “fatal flaw.”

Paul also lets us know that we can’t overcome sin on our own.  We just can’t help ourselves.  “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.  I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”  (Romans 7: 18-19)

We might well ask, like Paul did, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7: 24)

Paul gives us the answer in the next verse:  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”


 (The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First