Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I can work through headaches. I can deal with sore feet. I have the usual aches and pains of a middle aged woman, but there are two things that completely undo me: a sore throat and when I get Something In My Eye.

When I get something in my eye I go just a little CrAzY.

Whatever it is. Soap. Mascara. Eyelash. I really CAN NOT function. My thought process becomes totally devoted to the fact THAT SOMETHING IS IN MY EYE. I start trying to find it- first pulling my lid down and sticking my finger in it (like putting more things in there is actually going to help). I try not to rub it, which is what everyone tells you not to do, but is the very thing you want to do so badly. It's all I can think about. I am obsessed with the feeling that there is something most certainly where it should not be. Do not talk to me. Don't ask me any questions. I can't think. I won't be listening. I have something IN MY EYE!!!

What we are told to do when we have something in our eye is to close the eye and let our own tears take care of getting it out. I first learned this important nugget of first-aid in third grade when I got playground sand in my eye and the school nurse used a wet, grainy, brown paper towel to get it out and thus scratched my cornea. I had to wear an eye patch for weeks. (By the way, there is a statute of limitations as to how long you can tell a little blonde girl to pretend she is a pirate and not have her permanently damaged). Which is probably why I freak out when I get a THING in my eye. I don't want to be a pirate again.

When I am done losing my mind over The Thing, or when I am just plain exhausted, I often ask someone (usually and always my husband) if he sees anything in my eye. His answer is usually and always "no" and is also followed by "just close your eyes and let the tears take care of it." Such a wise man.

The closing of the eyes. The tears. The waiting. It takes time, patience, and trust. I give the body that God designed exactly what it needs: time to do its thing. I am a patient person (except when a Mack truck has parked itself over my iris). I can do this. All I have to do is pray- because that's how I have learned to trust. When I pray, I give every concern, every fear, every frustration to the only One Who can make all of them vanish in the wind. As surely as He flooded the earth He can rinse out my annoying little speck. I try my best in these times to focus only on Him. Because I am miserable.

I know I am not alone in this (maybe the entire freak out part); no one likes to have something in her eye. And I do believe women suffer more from this than men, unless the man works in a place with lots of cinders and sand and such. And, by the way, hats off to you, contact lens wearers, for you must be able to endure anything if you can function with something rolling around in your eye/head/lids. Wow.

So that's one reason why Matthew 7:3 really hits me. I can't imagine looking for anything in anyone else's eye when I have something in mine! Remember, I am in a state of non-functioning right about now. I am consumed with my own issues. I am in no position to deal with anyone else's mess when I am so messed up myself!

 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

Yes, I understand this is about much more than a lesson in human behavior when struggling with a foreign object. This parable is, in fact, an old one. So old that the Pharisees would have recognized it. So old that it would have caught their attention and it would have caused them to take notice of the One speaking it. Yet so new and fresh in its application that today the verse hits me right between my plank-filled eyes. I have no right to be critical. I have no right to be judgmental. Certainly a right to be prayerful and cautious and concerned- that can lead to productive conversations--and hopefully changed hearts and circumstances. But there is no place for prejudice in the Kingdom of God. And, dear readers, unless we are engaged in dialogue with the ones we are being so judgmental of, and unless we are building relationships that can bridge these gaps, we are doing Christ an injustice and we are judging others simply based on what we see. With our eyes. That are full of "junk."

I also love the exaggeration used in this passage. I just do! For all of His patience, all of His longsuffering, Jesus seems to be totally exasperated here, and once again uses His wit to make such a profound point, all without being hurtful or rude. He didn't - and doesn't- need to belittle or hurt anyone to make a point. He never did. He never will. Certainly Jesus' words stir us and convict us, or at least they should. But His words never, ever mock or boast or exploit. For that is not the Heart of a Savior. Not the heart of my Savior.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.   John 3:17

So as I go through these days of specks and spots and planks, I take the advice given. I close my eyes, let the tears come- and along with them, the prayers- and I wait for the foreign object, the thing that does not belong, the misery to go away.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Superhero

If I were a superhero, my weapon of choice would be the bullwhip.

I know what you're thinking. You are probably thinking that a superhero wouldn't need a weapon, right? Because, since superheroes have super powers already, why the need for arms? You may be also be wondering whether a bullwhip is the wisest choice, what with all the ray guns and lasers and bomby things that a world-class Defender would have at his, or in this case, HER, disposal. We'll get to my reasons in a bit. Right now I have to deal with the rest of you who think it odd that I would even be thinking this way. Get over it. I'm me and I'm who God created and He allows my imagination to go places that make me think and smile and appreciate Him in even the smallest things.
So for now, we are going to think about superheroes. And bullwhips.

The first characteristic that comes to mind when I think of a superhero is fearlessness. My hero would never flinch at the thought of pain or peril or failure. There is not a bug big enough or a snake slithery enough to shake my hero. Brave. Courageous. Fearless. No room for fear when so much is at stake. Fear creates doubt and second-guessing. Yes, caution is always prudent, but cowardice has no place in the life of a superhero. We are not meant to live in a spirit of fear, according to 2 Timothy 1:7. I had a personal lesson in that this time last year.

My superhero would also have to be strong. Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually and emotionally. Not necessarily the strongest human alive, but with the right power within her, strong enough for the task. Just strong enough so as not to boast or be over-confident. That way my hero remains humble. She knows where and from Whom her power comes  and seeks to only use it for good. Always and only for good.

A superhero uses good judgment and exhibits wisdom. She is slow to speak and is a good listener. She is patient, waiting until just the right moment to act. But when the time comes, she is a force to be reckoned with. Because she has been promised over and over again in Scripture, because she believes, she has the power of God in her pursuit of righteousness.

And she has this...bullwhip.

After all, the One Who cleared the temple fashioned a whip out of cords. Scripture doesn't say a whole lot about His temperament or rage; it doesn't need to. The God of Love and Compassion was seeing God's house used and abused and mocked. He had no choice but to act. To turn away would have meant that He condoned such behavior. It would have meant that the church and sacrifice and offering didn't matter.

But why did Jesus create a whip? I mean, He had His army of angels at His disposal.
 Just think of what He could have done.
Why did He take the time to fashion a weapon? Many scholars refer to the pieces of cord on the ground (used when leading the animals to the temple for sacrifice)  as our own sins that degrade the temple and keep us from fellowship with God if it were not for Jesus, while others look at them as a harbinger of the scourge that Christ Himself was to endure on our behalf. No scholar myself, I tend to be a little more simple and I see the example as one showing us that we all have to fashion our own whip and use it to clear our own temples from time to time, as God leads us to. My own superhero, backed into a corner, must do The Right Thing. We have to have our bullwhips ready. 

And last Saturday, had she been in the Yankee Candle Store, she would have wielded her whip all over the man who was being mean to a little child. For you see, my superhero loves to defend the hurt. The rage that builds within her when she sees that kind of behavior is the only thing that really scares her. She cannot simply "do nothing," for that would be the same as condoning, allowing, and seeming like it didn't matter. She defends the oppressed. The weak and wounded. She would have also used it on the drug dealers down the road and on the vandals who tore up the church lawn and on behalf of people in nursing homes and orphanages who are mistreated. And on the false prophets and the deceivers who are only out for personal gain and who thrive on intimidation and bullying. The politicians and leaders who hold no regard for what is sacred. All the evil.

There is a Superhero in all of us. All of us who know the true and living God. For Christ alone is my ultimate Superhero. And, laying His bullwhip down, He picked up my cross and carried it for me. No fear. Only love. And the power of God.


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