The story is told of a little monkey who desperately wanted to go swimming in a forbidden lake. He had seen the lake from a distant, and its waters looked cool and inviting in that hot-humid climate, and its setting was serene. But he had heard stories about that lake and he wasn't quite sure.
He went to the owl, who told him, "Cotton. You can't swim in that lake. There are crocodiles there and they are sure to eat you."
"Crocodiles? What's a crocodile?" asked the little monkey.
"Crocodiles are huge reptiles. They have thick skin, huge teeth, strong jaws and they just love to eat little monkeys," the Owl answered.
Cotton went away concerned, but undeterred. He wondered, "Do crocodiles really exist, or is the Owl trying to keep me from having fun?"
He went to a friend, a Baboon, and asked him about that lake. The Baboon told Cotton, "Cotton, you cannot go to that lake. There are crocodiles there and they will surely eat you."
"Ha, responded a nervous Cotton, "You are just trying to scare me. Crocodiles do not exist." And off the little monkey scampered.
Animal after animal warned Cotton of the danger until he came to the Hyena. "Mr. Hyena," Cotton queried, "Do crocodiles exist? I want to swim in Forbidden Lake, but everyone tells me a crocodile might eat me."
"Hogwash," the Hyena replied with a grin. "There are no such animals as crocodiles. That's a story made up to keep little monkeys like you from having fun."
"I knew it," shrieked Cotton with delight. "Crocodiles do not exist. Crocodiles do not exist." And off he swung through the trees, heading with delight and full abandon to that inviting lake.
Cotton swam in that lake. He jumped from trees, did, back-strokes, enjoyed the cool water, confident that the Hyena had steered him right.
Suddenly, there was a splash. An instant later, the crocodile swam contentedly away saying, "Cotton the monkey does not exist."
Do you get the point? God gives us clear advice in his Word, through his people, and in our hearts. He is the wonderful counselor who will never steer us wrong, yet how often do we persist in wanting to have things our way? We want to hear only what we want to hear so that we can do what we want to do. I promise you, based on the authority of God's word, such thinking will eventually get you into trouble. Such thinking will end in disaster. Sadly, there are those out there who, like the Hyena in the story, will purposefully steer you wrong.
Listen to God and don't seek "further clarification" from those who do not know him. I may not always like what God says, (and he speaks through his written word, the Bible) but I know this: He has never led me wrong.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.