Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for August 4th, 2011

27 Daggers to the Chest

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In the top right corner of my Bible, at some point I wrote in blue ink, “Judgment can be seen as a type of grace.” It is a comment proposed by the verse in Hebrews 12:12 &13, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

I remember a sermon Pastor Jim Rush of Pine Forest Methodist Church preached on this very verse. Pine Forest was my first church home, where I was christened, confirmed, accepted Christ, and married. Even though I was in my early teen years when I heard his message, some 30+  years ago, I still remember it.

One of my favorite childhood friends, Tracy Lou Lamb, and I shared a love for scary movies.  Nestled in the center aisle of the Martin Theatre in Dublin, Georgia; popcorn placed strategically between us; two iced cold Tabs; we suffered through the heart raising, nail biting, silent torture of horror. To Tracy the big screen before us suggested humor. There were times she’d throw her arm up exclaiming, “Really? Like she can’t figure out he’s standing behind the door…oh! How stupid!”

For me, the images before me were as real as breakfast cereal in the morning and the masked man driving the white station wagon could easily be the guy sitting next to me in Miss Holt’s Social Studies Class. For days I walked in a sort of stupor wondering if the next doorway would bring my demise, 27 dagger wounds to my chest, but the thrill of the scare kept me coming back. Tracy Lou teased me unmercifully, “How can you be scared? It was so obvious!”

Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees…”

Provision for our known weakness…Pastor Rush probably wasn’t talking about horror films the day he preached his Hebrews 12:12-13 sermon, but it was how I saw sin and the fallible influences of  my life – always lurking behind bushes, hiding in corridors, sneaking up unsuspectingly – that put me in harms way.  Masked in a way that we cannot see its true self, the dangers we knowingly or unknowingly invite into our lives, cripple us.

Realizing where frailities are, the chinks in our armors, allows us to muscle up, see them coming, face them boldly, or run as fast as we can away from them.

“Make level paths for your feet…”

My brother and his wife experienced a house fire early in their marriage. Awaken to smoke so thick they could not see their own hands, they crawled out of the bedroom and safely out of their home. He once told me that before he goes to bed he makes sure the floor is clear because of his experience.

There are times in life when we ourselves choose obstacles, we repeatedly walk where we know we shouldn’t,  entertaining the notion, “it is innocent fun.”

While in New York I took a group of girls to the M&M Store. Those who know me, know my weakness is M&Ms. I laughed as I stood wall-to-wall with the daggers of my life. Talk about a sinful dwelling! I envisioned putting my mouth under an M&M spout of plain colorful candies and leaving the girls to wander around New York without me. Thankfully, the image was only momentary and I got through the store without a single purchase.

“…so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed.”

If we want to stay safe, there are certain places we cannot go. Whether it is inappropriately texting a co-worker; visiting sites on the internet; eating unhealthy foods; hanging out with people we know are wrong for us; drinking too much alcohol; smoking; gossiping; judging others; stretching the truth – whatever the flaw, we know what ours are. How we view them significantly impacts us as well. Whether we see it as Tracy Lou did ‘all in fun’ or as I did ‘the thrill of the scare,’ it is still sin and will destroy us.

Pastor Rush closed his sermon with the simple remarks that I still quote today, “What used to make us stumble, God can use to make us stand. What once made us shameful, God can use to make Him shine.”

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

August 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm