Michel: Truth usually lies beneath what we can see

Published 11:52 pm Friday, August 15, 2014

From the outside, all looked fine. The Toyota Previa minivan was clean, drove well and rode well.

But once you were inside, it smelled terrible. Since the van got us where we needed to go, was the smell really a problem? 


At first I blamed my son. “Geoffrey, you can’t leave your basketball shoes in the van.” He denied doing so.

The next day the smell was even stronger. Looking for the shoes that I just knew were somewhere in the van, I discovered the problem. And it was so much worse than a pair of Nikes.

Fish. A once-frozen pound of fish was underneath a seat, creating the foul smell.

Disgusted by the smell and the loss of the filets my mother-in-law had given me, I groaned as I grabbed the edge of the plastic bag, held it with an outstretched arm and ran to the nearest trash can.

If only I could write, The End, at this point. But even though the fish was gone, the smell continued for at least two weeks.

Since it was the only vehicle I owned large enough to accommodate both my kids and my carpool, we were forced to endure the stench. One morning, as my niece Amber entered the van she said, “It still smells terrible.”

“It’s just making me hungry,” laughed her sister Mattie, cuing screams and squeals from the others who were forced to ride in the van.

Finally, after numerous attempts with too many products to list, our vehicle was fish-odor free.

Gone, but 14 years later, not forgotten.

So why bring it up now? Because it’s the frame of reference I use when I examine my life.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees by comparing them to whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but inwardly filled with dead men’s bones.

“In the same way,” He continued in Matthew 23:28, “on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

The familiarity I lack with tombs, I make up for it with the knowledge of a clean, fully functioning van that’s disgusting to those inside. And I don’t want my life to be like that van.

Regardless of outward appearances, only those on the inside, my family and friends, know what I’m really like, and whether or not my attitude stinks.

Ronny Michel may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.