Anyone from a French culture knows exactly what is meant by the word, “Carnaval”, or “Carnival”, as we write it in English. Depending upon where Carnival is being celebrated, this could mean anywhere from three days to seven weeks of celebration, celebrations always end on Ash Wednesday.
Our first experience with carnival came as our host was driving us from the airport in Pointe-a-Pitre Guadeloupe to our rented apartment. He was excited to share with us that we had arrived at the perfect time of year, for carnival had just begun. He left us at our apartment assuring us that he would text us with carnival locations so that we wouldn’t miss any of the celebration.
The very next day was a Sunday. Everything in Guadeloupe closes at noon on Sundays and after church, we went out for a walk. Imagine our surprise to see boys, young and old, slapping the pavement with long, thickly-braided homemade whips. The sound could best described as a gunshot, and when there were many whips being slapped at the same time, it was hard to not look around for fireworks.
We had no idea what this meant, but later that evening, the “pops” and “cracks” of hundreds of whips could be heard throughout our neighbourhood. It was shortly after this that the parade began, and we were blessed to have it pass right down our street. We were able to see the entire parade from our balcony!
Everyone people were joyous and excited, and there was plenty of security around. Overall, it was a fascinating cultural experience for us. We were happy to have been in Guadeloupe at just the right time to see what we thought would be a one-time experience.
Imagine our surprise to learn that this was only a tiny part of a seven-week celebration…
It wasn’t hard for the locals to know we were tourists, and they took great pride in telling us where the upcoming carnival celebrations would be taking place. Initially we smiled and said we had already been to carnival; but they would just get more excited that we would be able to experience it again and again.
Please understand that the reason for our 4-week stay in Guadeloupe was to visit the beautiful island. Yes, we wanted to experience the culture, but we felt there were other things we wished to experience in Guadeloupe besides Carnival. Also understand that the main highway around the Island also served as the main road for most of the small towns. This meant that if Carnival was being celebrated in a town we needed to pass through in order to get to our given destination, we would be completely stuck for the next several hours. After getting “stuck” behind Carnival celebrations a couple of times, we began asking the locals right out where Carnival would be celebrated next. Of course, they all thought it was because we were anticipating another exciting Carnival experience…They didn’t know that our motivation was to avoid what they were so excited to share with us!
Although we loved the natural beauty of the island of Guadeloupe and would miss the beautiful people we met there, we were happy enough to leave their Carnival celebrations behind. Especially since we almost missed our flight off the island due to another Carnival parade! And you can imagine our frustration to arrive at our next island, Martinique, only to discover that everything on this beautiful island would be closed down for the next four days for the cummlation of the Martinique Carnival celebrations…
It all made me think about sin. Now please understand I am not calling Carnival “sin”. The reason we wished to avoid it had nothing to do with sin, per sae. Rather, it was simply because we had other things on our agenda, things that interested us more, and the Carnival celebrations stopped us from doing what we hoped to do. However, in the same way we wished to avoid Carnival, we all need to avoid even the appearance of sin.
Because in the same way that Carnival was so exciting to the locals and looked like such innocent fun, sin can be equally enticing. To the same extent that Carnival blocked the highways and main roads, making it difficult for people to get from point “A” to point “B”, sin blocks us from pursuing the paths that we have laid out in front of us. And in the same manner the Carnival celebrations closed down all of the stores in Martinique, making it difficult for us to even be able to buy food those first few days on the island, the results of sin can bar us from the essentials of relationships, love and support that we so vitally need.
Is it for naught that we are told to:
a. “…lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us…” (Heb. 12:1b) so that we can, “…run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb. 12:1c NASB)?
b. “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins…”(Rev. 18:4b NLT) so that we will not, “…be punished with her.” (Rev. 18:4c NLT)?
c. “Stay away from every kind of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22 NLT)?
d. “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts.” (2 Tim. 2:22a NLT) and instead, “…pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.” (2 Tim. 2:22b NLT)?
Not sure what sin God is trying to cleanse you of at the moment? Spend some honest, humble time with Him right now. He will reveal it to you; and when He does, flee it!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.