The riddle this morning is one which you will all get. What animal is called the ship of the desert? That's it, the camel. I am going to tell you a story about it .
Once upon a time there was an Arab who was making a journey through the desert on a camel. They stopped for the night and the Arab pitched his tent. He slept inside and the camel slept outside. He had been asleep for about an hour when he felt something tickle his foot. He looked down and saw that the camel had pushed his nose inside the flap of the tent.
"Get out," he said lazily. The camel said,
" It's cold outside. Let me in ."
"All right," said the man, "but only your nose."
Off he went to sleep again. An hour passed and he woke to see the camel's head inside the tent.
"Get out," he said again. The camel replied,
"It's cold outside. Let me stay here."
" All right," said the man, "but only your head." He went off to sleep again but was awakened an hour later. The camel's neck was in the tent.
"Get out," he said again."
It's cold outside," said the camel, "Let me i n ."
"All right," said the man, "but only your neck." And hour later he woke up again and said, "I'm freezing. I wonder what's the matter." Then he saw that the camel was inside and he was outside. He jumped up angrily and said, "You come out of there and let me back in my tent." But the wise old camel slept peacefully on and left him out in the cold.
Each thing in this story reminds us of something. To begin with here is a hint. The tent is the state of grace. What is the state of grace? No mortal sins. Right. Whom does the man remind you of? Who is the man making the journey through the desert? Sinners . . . well, yourselves. What is the camel? What is i t that pushes you out of the state of grace? The devil. Correct. But notice the way he pushes you out. He doesn't rush in and throw you out. He comes around very quietly and eases you out little by little until you are out in the cold.
The story goes on that for the rest of the journey the Arab kept muttering to himself, "Bad habits are like camels. I f you don't chase them out in the beginning they get the better of you." Bad habits are the next thing you have to watch out for. They, too, will spoil your image of Christ for you. Your task this week is to remember this story whenever you see a picture of a camel. It may be on a package or in a book or anywhere. When you see it just stop for a minute and remember the words which the Arab muttered to himself after he had slept out in the cold. "Bad habits are like camels. I f you do not chase them out in the beginning,
they get the better of you."