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  • Writer's pictureBecky Proctor

The sniff test

Have you ever mistakenly taken a drink of spoiled milk?

Here’s the scenario:

You are really, really thirsty and your palate is telling you nothing could be more satisfying, more refreshing than a good, cold glass of milk!

Retrieving a glass from the cabinet, you reach into the refrigerator and as you pull out the milk carton, your taste buds are on high alert, anticipating that first icy cold gulp of wholesome goodness.

Your pupils dilate when, as if in slow motion, the milk carton tilts toward the glass, the snowy liquid cascades like a waterfall, filling, filling, filling the glass to the brim. The glass is cool against your palm when you pick up your drink.

With no hesitation, you raise the glass to your lips and drink deeply.

And then it hits you.

The milk is bad.

You grunt, cough (or gag), make a face and run to the sink to rinse your mouth repeatedly.

It’s a taste and an experience you’re not likely to forget. Some have given up milk drinking completely as a result.

How could you have known it was bad?

Well, had you smelled it before tasting, the odor alone may have been a dead giveaway.

Also, you could have checked the “sell by” or “best if used before” date on the carton, although these aren’t always reliable.

Smell and taste, as in sip, are the best methods of determining if your milk is still good for consumption.

Milk goes bad when bacteria already present in pasteurized milk begin to grow. Drinking spoiled milk, other than just a tiny taste, can bring on all the digestive woes associated with food poisoning.

The thought came to me as I lay in bed, unable to sleep, "What am I ingesting that’s upsetting me these days?" What am I reading, watching, or dwelling on that takes away rather than adds to my spiritual journey?

When I first began to walk this path, I couldn’t get enough Bible studies, Christian music, inspirational non-fiction, and faith-based radio and tv. I wanted to know everything there was to know.

Once I realized I was not cramming for an exam, I relaxed a bit and began to add Christian fiction to my reading lists.

Little by little, I returned to the book award winners, the best sellers list, historical fiction and biographies. Somewhere along the line, I heard someone say, “Oh, I always finish a book,” and I found myself doing the same just because I heard that person say that! What was I thinking?

But, lately and more than once, I’ve abandoned books halfway through because the just didn’t “smell” good to me. Personally, I did not find anything of moral or literary value, so I abandoned the tome and moved on to the next book.

I made another decision this morning. I opened the newspaper, read the headlines, a couple not too depressing stories, the weather forecast and the advice columns. That was it, all I needed from the daily news.

For me, I’m thinking there's no better time than right now to pay better attention of my spiritual “diet.” We are consumers, after all. What we consume will nourish us, starve us or make us sick. God gives us free will to make the choice.

So I ask myself, Are my discerning eyes open?

Will it pass the “sniff test”?

I pray it is so.

Lord, so much passes before us, around us and over us each day. Make us wise that we may guard our hearts and turn away from anything that would make us or anyone else stumble. Amen.

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