One Little Patch

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:26

The Apostle Paul is telling us that when one member of the body suffers, the whole body will feel it. I learned this first-hand one day when my tympani, or eardrum, received a tiny patch. A few hours after the deed was done my whole head was suffering with that little spot.

When I was in my thirties I had tubes put in my ear drums so I wouldn’t have to live with tympani-rupturing infections. The tubes remained for years until one by one they fell out, leaving little holes. My ear specialist deemed it wise to patch these holes, one at a time.

Into the operating room I went. He snipped a bit of skin from the back of my ear and tacked it over the hole, then he packed something into the outer ear canal to hold the patch in place.

This procedure called for a general anesthetic, which meant my whole body had to bear with the little member. I couldn’t eat or drink before surgery; my stomach grumbled about that. Coming out of the anesthetic after surgery my stomach felt queasy and my head felt fuzzy and unbalanced. My feet had extra work to keep my woozy body upright when the nurse insisted I take a short walk around the room. Later in the evening I suffered with a cross between a headache and an earache. All because of one microscopic piece of skin.

Thankfully the operation was successful, the site’s healed nicely and I no longer have a hole in that eardrum.

The Apostle Paul was speaking of the Church, referred to as the earthly body of Jesus Christ. As we become members of that holy body of believers, “knit together in love,” when one suffers everyone feels it. Every member has a place to fill, a work to do in the body, and if one is weak or AWOL others have to make corrections for him or her. I appreciate how much my fellow Christians bear with my faults.

We all have some weaknesses and irritating habits others need to bear with. Some Christians are recovering from past emotional damage. They may be fearful and suspicious. We’ve all been scarred by the consequences of temptations we’ve yielded to. And we’re not surrounded by people who always speak kind, edifying words. Gossip and harsh words from family, neighbours and co-workers may wound us. Plus, the Bible warns us that our enemy hurls “fiery darts” our way and some of them hit tender spots.

Unlike medical men, God makes repairs without knocking the his children out. If we are willing and obedient to follow directions, He brings us into situations that strengthen our weak areas and gives us courage in spite of our shortcomings. We can be serving Him to the best of our ability, still He constantly performs those small surgeries necessary to cure our hurts, fears, frustrations. Over time He skillfully removes our “baggage” without crippling after-effects.

This healing, straightening process is called sanctification. Like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet.”

I’m glad the doctor is finished with my ears. I’d be absolutely delighted to never need any more repairs, big or small. But I trust the Lord will keep on operating on me, so I can be an effective member of His Church.

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:5

A Willing Heart

The six-year-old girl eyed the young man sitting next to her in the church pew; she’d never seen him in their church before. In fact, his few words of greeting to her father before the service started revealed a different accent than the little Scottish girl was used to hearing in their town.

She was eager to “show herself friendly” as the Good Book said, and make him feel at home. But how? In her mind she rehearsed the words “Welcome here. I’m glad you’ve come,” but she was too shy to actually say it. Still, might there would be some way?

Right then a hymn was announced, number 489. She saw the stranger pick up a hymn book. On impulse she slid over toward him and whispered, “I’ll help you find it. I know those big numbers can be hard to sort out.”

“Thank you so much,” he whispered back. “I can manage alright until 100, after that it gets tough.”

So she helped him locate hymn #489 and he offered to share the book with her. She smiled up at him and they sang the verses together, the Scottish lass in first grade and the Englishman with a Degree in engineering.

Quote of the Day:

If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth.

– Sir Allen Herbert

(Anecdote retold from an account in and old Friendship Book of Francis Gay.)

“Can You Trust Me?”

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the kind and longsuffering Rochelle-Wisoff Fields. And today J Hardy Carroll has offered the photo prompt. If you’d like to participate in the Fictioneers prompt, check with Rochelle at Addicted to Purple.

When I first saw this picture, my mind went back to when we lived in Montreal and saw the result of what locals called “un reglement de comptes.” Someone wouldn’t pay their dues — or pay due respect — and there’s be this untraceable explosion.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Can You Trust Me?”

“So whatta ya think?” The realtor tried for upbeat. “Can you see this for your meetings? Needs a little work, of course.”

Pastor Ivan surveyed the disaster. “Rumor has it this was a result of not paying the mob’s “protection” fees.

The realtor’s smile disappeared. “Maybe. I’m sure they won’t bother you guys, being’s you’re a church and all.”

Ivan sighed. Lord, this IS affordable. But it looks hopeless.

“Son of man, can these bones live?”

The Bible quote startled Ivan. “What?”

The realtor turned to him, puzzled. “Eh?”

Ivan grinned. “You know, maybe this will work — with God’s help.”

Back story:

I could fit this tale into 100 words because Pastor Ivan knew his Bible and exactly what this question implied. The story is found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. Here the Lord takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones, representing the scattered, defeated House of Israel, “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.”

As Ezekiel watches, the bones come together, muscles and sinews start to connect them, then flesh appears. The spirit of God breathes life into them. “…and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.”

“And (I) shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” (Verse 14)

So the quote Ivan heard in his mind implied, “Can you trust me to bring something vibrant out of this hopeless mess? And can you trust me to defend it?”

 

How Far Will You Run?

Five years ago I wrote up one of Pastor Warren’s Sunday morning messages, as near as I remembered it.  Now I’ll post it again for my new site.

His topic was on accepting responsibility–which might include the need to go back and face the music. The scripture verses he started his message with were Genesis 16:6-11.

In Genesis 15: 4 Abraham was promised a son, but his wife Sarai had her doubts. At least she wasn’t producing any heirs. Then she had this bright idea — as we short-sighted humans often do. She gave her maid to Abraham thinking the maid would provide the descendants and Sarai would claim them as hers. After all, the maid belonged to her so any offspring would, too.

Alas for “the best laid plans of mice and man.” When Hagar knew she was going to have the heir, she got a bit “uppity” as Southern folks would say. Her smugness irked Sarai, who then became the classic slave driver, treating her maid harshly.

And when Sarai had dealt this way with her one too many times, Hagar fled from her face. (Verse 6) If she’s going to be so cantankerous, I’m outta here, she decided. She took the lad, Abraham’s son, and left for parts unknown.

Trouble is, the parts were unknown. She came to the end of the road, with no food, no money and no place to go. Her son was starving. And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness… And he said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou and whither wilt thou go?

God cared enough about Hagar to follow her; He let her run as far as she could and there He met her. Hagar, probably exhausted and hungry by this time, was finally ready to listen. That’s usually where God meets us, isn’t it?

So she told him, “I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.” And the angel of the Lord said unto her, “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands… I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.”

Sometimes a few pointed words from a concerned Christian brother or sister will cause someone to run. Someone questions something they done, maybe implies they’re not the good Christian they think they are. So they feel hurt and offended. “He was too hard on me. She doesn’t really know me. I’m doing the best I can. They just don’t understand my situation. I’m not going back there again!”

There are people who go from church to church, from counselor to counselor, hoping to get answers they like. They may say they need help, that they need direction, but then listen “selectively” for the advice they really want to hear. Ten people may say “Don’t do it” but they listen to the one who says, “Yes, that would be okay.” Then they can go ahead and do as they wish, because “Brother so-and-so said it was okay.”

Naturally we want to be accepted by others as spiritual people. That we’re doing just okay. We don’t want to hear we’re wrong, that we have attitudes that are not Christ-like. We may feel so abused and unloved that we run. Perhaps not literally, but we avoid those who want to help us.

God is so good; He waits until we come to a quiet place, until we’ve exhausted every avenue and don’t know what else to do. Then He says, “Where are you? What are you doing here? How far have you already run? How much farther are you going to go?”

He tell us, “Go back. Go back to those ones that you think dealt so hard with you…and submit yourself to them. Listen to what they have to say. Consider that they may be right…that they may see something in you that does need changing.”

Heb 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

God promised Hagar a rich reward if she’d just go back and stick it out. And after all, wasn’t her attitude part of the problem between her and her mistress? Likewise, He promises us a reward. Though our attitudes may have to go through a refining fire, He promises we’ll be the better for it. Relationships will be stronger, our love purer, our light brighter.

Or will we keep on running? For how many years? Through how many broken relationships? And where will it finally end?

Creature Comforts Indeed!

“Heat the church? Spend money on a stove? Whatever For?”

The little Scottish congregation was divided; some muttered that this was going too far while others nodded in approval when the subject was brought up at the parish meeting. Other churches were installing stoves, so why not. They definitely added to the comfort of the flock — which might well mean more of the flock would come to services on chilly winter days.

Of course this touch of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” in the very kirk itself met with resistance from some of the older folks who’d worshiped all their lives without extra heat. You just dress warmer in winter. Any fool knows that.

No one frowned on this indulgence more than one dear old grannie I’ll call Mrs Ross. She was adamant that there was no need to heat the kirk. Her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her—and should be good enough for the young ones. But she was outnumbered by the more self-indulgent ones in the congregation. A stove was purchased and installed.

Of course the news spread rapidly through the close-knit Scottish community. And the next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever — if not more so.

After the first hymns Grannie Ross removed her heavy coat with a flourish and mutters. After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she discarded her thick sweater. When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint.

This little act caused the sensation she’d hoped. Several members rushed to assist her. Now everyone could see the dire consequences of having the kirk heated!

As an usher helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs Ross, how much more will you suffer next Sunday when we actually light the stove?”