When It’s OK to Limp

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. (Mat 18:8 ESV)

I once made a living spraying liquid fertilizers which were custom mixed with various herbicides.  One herbicide was especially effective at controlling cockleburs but you had to take great care in mixing and applying it.  Too much would kill everything.

One farmer had a field that invariably produced more cockleburs than soybeans. So, he ordered up an especially strong mixture of the stuff for that one field.  The responsibility for mixing and applying fell to me.  It came in a powder form that had a tendency to settle in the liquid if not constantly stirred.  Maybe I didn’t stir soon enough or maybe not long enough.  But I didn’t do something enough.  For the first twenty yards of the first ten rows there was nothing, and I do mean nothing.  For a long, long time.

As soon as it became apparent (when the rest of the field was up and growing), I swallowed hard and went to said farmer with deepest apologies.  He asked me if I had seen the rest of the field.  I had seen it but my focus was on the first twenty yards of the first ten rows.  Then he said this.  “In that field, I’ll take ten rows for twenty yards of nothing any year, if I can get the rest of the field looking like it does now.”

He lost something but what he gained was so much greater in his eyes that he was ready to do it again.  I was not ready to do it again, but he was.  He knew the risk but he also saw the harvest.  Losing a little to reap a lot looked like a deal to him.  If he was happy, you may be sure that I was.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:8 seem hard to us.  My foot is important to me.  In fact, it is me, and if I lose it, I will limp through life.  But Jesus is telling me that there are things worth losing.  These hard words are from one who sees the harvest.  There are attitudes, desires, and patterns of behavior that, if allowed to grow, will have devastating results at harvest time.  It is better to tell self where to get off today than to wait.  If not, you may find yourself in a field of spiritual cockleburs in search of a lonely spiritual bean.

Losing a little to reap a lot is a deal. It is OK to limp now if you know that the end result will be flying with eagles.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 ESV)

What a Savior!

As I Recall

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)

It was a safety recall and I was told it would take an hour or perhaps an hour and a half to complete.  After two hours of waiting, I started to look for explanations. They were very kind.  They too began to look for explanations.  It hardly took ten minutes to find one.  “We apologize for the delay.  Bad recall part.  They had to change it out again.  Ready in about five minutes.”  I visit a lot of hospitals.  I know that “about five minutes” means the same thing as “they’re closing now” and “the doctor will see you shortly.”

I walked away pondering three words you don’t want to hear.  “Bad recall part.”  If you replace bad parts with bad parts, well, you get the picture.

Paul was amazed at the Christians of Galatia.  Helpless sinners, they cried out to the Savior and depended upon the Holy Spirit.  Then suddenly they let other voices convince them they could now do it themselves.  If they were living now, perhaps Paul would say, “Bad recall part.”

Don’t replace parts that don’t work with parts that don’t work.  It won’t work.

On the other hand, crying out to the Savior and depending on the Holy Spirit has never been a bad plan.

What a wonderful Savior he is!

Such a Day

Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:1-4)

It was just another day for so many people.  But it was no ordinary day for a leper who found his way to Jesus as Jesus and his disciples descended from the mountain.  It was a humble request from a man who knew there was no other remedy and who believed that Jesus could.

I will.  Be clean.”

Somewhere between the mountain and Capernaum, it happened.  Was it a broad road or a narrow path?  Was it wet with dew or dry and dusty?  How many is a multitude and how far were they strung out down the path?  And who among them would have willingly let this leper get close enough that he could make his way through that crowd and find Jesus?  Was there a cascade of voices as he approached, “Unclean!  Unclean!”?  On just such a day an unclean man found a willing Savior.

Will that Savior be any less inclined to hear me when I seek him out about my dirty heart?  If I come to him with my sin-stained hands and my misguided feet, if I throw myself upon his mercy with all of my idolatry and self-righteousness, and say to him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean,”  will he hear me and respond?

I have never heard of him telling an honest sinner “no.”  Immediately. Immediately.  What a precious word!  How far away is your forgiveness?  The time it takes you to honestly ask.  It could be just such a day as this.

“I will.  Be clean.”

What a Savior!