When I was a young child, I chose to disobey my parents sometimes. Surprised? I know! It’s hard to believe.
I had a habit of going barefoot outside a lot, and for some reason, I would always end up getting hangnails on my big left toe. I wonder if it might be due to the fact that I went and played in the mud, squished tadpoles and frogs between my muddy toes, then moved on to the sandbox, the see-saw (splinters and all), and ran up and down the concrete stubbing my toes over and over again?
Maybe I just have sensitive toes.
Of course, they would inevitably become infected. Most of the time, it was that one left big toe, but sometimes even the other side was injured too.
This is when, at a very young age, (puffing out my chest with great pride right about now) I learned what “pus” meant.
“Pus” – A thick yellowish or greenish liquid produced in infected tissue, consisting of dead white blood cells and bacteria with tissue debris.”
Yes, I was enthralled with dictionary definitions early on, my friends. I thought I was pretty cool stuff since I knew what such an adult-sounding, medically-oriented type word meant. Leave it to me to find a way to feel good about myself in the face of making stupid blunders and acting in a disobedient manner to the point my poor mother wanted to pull her hair out. LOL!
But I didn’t think it was cool to have infected and pus-filled toes. However, I continued to enjoy going outside barefoot anyway. I guess my control issues emerged at an early stage in life as well. (snicker, snicker, wink, wink)
Every time I got an infected toe, my mom wanted to soak it in epsom salts to draw out the pus and prevent the problem from getting worse. Of course, she had already tried to nip the problem in the bud proactively by admonishing me about going outside barefoot in the first place – almost always to no avail. Most of the time, since she allowed me to disobey about the BIG thing already, I would comply with her request to soak the toe in the HOT, salty water – yelling at her (killing the doctor/messenger) the whole time, of course. Ouch!
Wasn’t I a GREAT kid?
A year or two passed, and after multiple infected toes, I decided that I was just about done with the salty soaks. I still wanted to have my way though (of course!) – BOTH ways, you see….I wanted to go outside barefoot, AND I didn’t want to have to soak my toe if a hangnail emerged – The control issues evolve!
Side Note: Anyone ever hear of the definition of insanity? Yep….I embodied that – quite well, I might add.
Well, a whopper of an infected left toe ensued after playing outside barefoot several days in a row. My saintly mother decided to allow me to exert my rights and not soak the toe this time. Guess what happened? Over the next couple of days it got more swollen, the pus turned greener and grosser, and I learned what the term “gangreen” meant. (Thanks to my eloquent and neurotic father)
Cool. Another new word. And a REALLY infected toe this time!
“Gangreen” – The term used to describe the decay or death of an organ or tissue caused by a lack of blood supply. It is a complicaiton resulting from infectious or inflammatory processes, injury, or degenerative changes associated with chronic diseases.
Thinking to self at that time: “I wonder what “degenerative” means?”
I ended up having to go to the military hospital (yuck-o-rama!) to get it lanced. But I had to get some shots too. I don’t know if your mind played tricks on you when YOU were a kid, but mine liked to put on a full-on magic show a lot of the time. I seriously thought I might have to lose my toe or foot…I was fully expecting the machetes to come out any time. These dudes in white coats looked like evil men of misery to me…I could swear that in my line of vision, I saw two or three of them in the background snickering and waiting for a turn to hack at the oozing mess! (Choppity Chop)
I learned then that I did NOT want to display my newfound knowledge of medical terminology by going into the field of medicine. Astute of me, no? (I was a perceptive and extremely intelligent little kid too – tee hee)
Yes…covering up the toe didn’t keep me from the knife (eh-hem, “lance”). Putting a bandaid, and then an even bigger bandaid on it – those didn’t help either. Secretly soaking it by myself a couple of nights when no one was watching in the bathtub (without the salt, mind you) yielded nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I got hauled off to the dang hospital and the men in white coats had at it.
By the way: I developed a phobia of men in white coats, needles and lance-like scalpels from that point on…I guess that’s three phobias…..but that’s another story.
We all know where I am going with this. The problem was not the bandaid. The problem wasn’t really even the hangnail. It wasn’t the infection, or the fact that I wouldn’t soak the toe, or the frogs or the mud. The problem was sin. It was my disobedience. My refusal to listen to the wisdom of my mother and to obey her in the first place is what caused this problem. And the fact that I’d allowed it to be a pattern in my life had resulted in consequences that repeated themselves as well.
But thankfully, we have a loving and forgiving Father in our Lord! And He STILL blessed me through the process of it all – He kept trying to get me to hear Him over and over again. He never gave up on me. He wanted to teach me to listen and obey. (I chose to develop a phobia of military hospitals, shots, scalpels, and epsom salts to curb my appetite for getting toe hangnails instead.) So I may have eventually stopped getting hangnails, but I continued to “exert my will” in many other ways throughout my life. I didn’t listen. I didn’t learn. I didn’t change. Not for a while.
Rebellion is ugly, even when it’s veiled in “cute-ness”. And It likes to stick around.
I still fall short of applying all the lessons I should in my life now that I am all “grown up.” But I am trying now…I am seeking God….I am desiring and striving for obedience in my life. I try now to listen and obey, but I am still fooled at times – far too often still. Sometimes I am still just plain rebellious. But I do listen to God’s voice and try to remember to get back on the right path if I start to stray. I am stepping toward Him now….not the frogs and the mud. I think I may have finally figured out that I have sensitive toes.
Most of my problems in this area are harder to find now…they aren’t as glaring and immediately painful as a big fat pus-filled, potentially gangreen-ous left toe! I have to have faith and trust in Him that He will help me listen to the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me. I have to watch for the warning signs of an impending infection.
Is there anything I might need to confess to the Lord today? Have I been honest with Him about my intentions and motivations? Did I think something that no one else knows that isn’t loving, or pure, or clean? He knows anyway…..but He wants for me to be honest with Him and myself.
Small scrapes and cuts can escalate quickly. We have to allow the Lord to stop the bleeding right away. Only He can offer the tourniquet of healing truth in our lives.
I have accepted that I have been wired to commit sin in my life, but that I can’t be okay with it sticking around when it arrives. I have also accepted that I have to keep watch for it when it tries to creep in and cause infection. I have to make sure to keep my shoes on and walk down the right path; not go barefoot when I shouldn’t and step into muddy and germ-laden waters. And above all, I need to confess that sin daily to my Father who forgives and remember that those very sins are paid for by the blood of Jesus.
Doing the right thing is best. Avoidance of sin is even better. But when it bites us, if we get an infection, we have to admit it and get it treated.
There is only ONE Great Physician that I know who can do the job with grace, compassion, and precision – You know who He is too.
Guess what? After bleeding beyond belief for US….so as to SAVE us….Jesus Christ did not get any infections. He rose again, shiny and new, and is more glorious than EVER. That is because He bled for us out of love, not His own sin. He is sinless. He is Holy. He is Pure. Jesus bleed out of obedience to His Father in heaven and love for us. And He lives!
There’s a new doctor in town….actually, He has been around forever. He’s the Tourniquet of Truth and Holy Healer in our lives. He’s the salve for our infections, and He heals all the hurts. He is the Great Physican, who heals hearts and minds. He doesn’t wield a machete, and He is MIGHTY TO SAVE!
I call Him, Wonderful Savior. Mighty God. The Healer of all Men. Jesus, our Lord. He heals all wounds. He makes us whole. And He will carry us – ESPECIALLY when we like to go barefoot when we shouldn’t.
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17