Saturday, July 22, 2006

Would You Like Some Valium This Instant!

Would You Like Some Valium?

It was a ridiculous question. WOULD I like some Valium?! Hello! I'm about to put my two—my only two now, my only two EVER—eyeballs under a laser beam (a patient-friendly term for what must really mean a knife) to be opened up, messed around with, and forever altered. WOULD I like some Valium? I'm sorry, doctor, but while you have your words right, you have them in the wrong order. It's more like: You WOULD like some Valium, Jodi. You really, really would.

I gave my obvious answer to her pointless question and, when I was brought the beautiful, heaven-sent, mind-easing pill, I saw that it was cut in half. "Huh?"

"You're so small, we don't you to O.D. So we're just going to give you a half." Fine. Whatever. I'll take what I can get.

An hour later (30 minutes for the precious half a Valium to kick in, plus 30 minutes for the procedure), I was done. My legally-blind eyes had been thoroughly lasered-up, worked on, and zapped to what I hoped would be PERFECT vision.

Less than twenty-four hours later, when I removed some of the most attractive goggles known to man (just wait till the fashion industry starts marketing these!), I found that I was indeed the recipient of a true miracle. I could see. Unaided. Just my natural eyeballs, looking 20/20 into a beautiful, intricate, laser-sharp world. Incredible.

What my eyes had just gone through isn’t much unlike the character pruning process that Jesus continually brings me through. Neither is fun. Both are uncomfortable. But both are endured for the sake of the result. And while there’s no denying when you’re in physical surgery, character surgery is much more subtle. (I'm lucky if I even catch on to the fact that it's happening.) And while physical surgery is MY choice, character refinement will always be HIS choice. While Valium will temporarily alter my mind, His Word will permanently soothe my soul. (Thankfully, He offers the WHOLE Bible—no downsizing for "small people" or a “small faith.”) Finally, while the outcome of physical surgery can only be HOPED for, the outcome of His work in me—Christlikeness—is absolutely guaranteed...every time.

How are you surviving the character pruning process that He is performing in you right now? Are you trying to numb the pain, or are you maximizing the honor of being under the Master Physician's always precise, always loving care?

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15: 1-2

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Liquid Draino This Instant!

Liquid Draino This Instant!

I don’t know how people live without a garbage disposal. It is one of the simplest, most user-friendly, slim-to-no maintenance required, relatively cheap kitchen appliances out there. And it does SO much! The benefits are staggering…a bunch of smelly, undesirable food parts—gone!—at the flick of a switch. Less trash to take out. A fresh scent to fill the kitchen (if oranges are your peel of choice). Water freely flowing through the kitchen sink once again. Ah, America. Only you would think of a way to improve upon waste disposal (or was it China? Everything’s made in China. Anyway, smart people).

A garbage disposal is one of the first things I had installed in my townhouse, and I use it every day. But I’ve recently discovered another kind of pipe that could use a similar device from time to time: my emotional pipes.

Ever noticed how some people are as transparent as a missing window pane? They cry at the drop of a hat, they shout with joy and laugh out loud (and I do mean LOUD), and you can read their every emotion because it’s written all over their faces. Ah, I envy them. Their emotional pipes are pretty darn clean.

But me? Mine get clogged up. As much as I try to maintain my pipes by appropriately expressing my feelings, I'm also known to stuff them down, or try to wish them away. I invalidate them, or ignore them altogether. Then, when I least expect it, I’m suddenly “clogged up,” or down and out for “no reason,” or I snap at the radio (I live by myself, so that’s my company).

“What’s going on?” I wonder. Simple: I've got an emotional clog. I haven’t dealt with something that needs my attention.

These pipes take maintenance! While I certainly try my best to keep them clean and clear, I also need God to use His Liquid Draino every once in awhile. To flick on His garbage disposal. To clear me out. Only then can I be usable by Him again.

Is something hindering the Holy Spirit's flow in and through you? Have you checked your pipes? Do you have a dreaded hairball of sin or lingering negativity that can only be dissolved by God’s Liquid Draino?

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalm 139: 23-24 (Jodi version: “See if there is anything stopping me up from being usable by you, and use Your Liquid Draino so Your life can flow freely through me once again.”)

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 (Jodi addition: “…and keep your pipes clean for His sake.”)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Chinese Finger Trap This Instant!

Chinese Finger Trap

Have you ever had an encounter with a Chinese finger trap? If you have, you can visualize this thing as a small tube made of thin bamboo. It's designed that you place your left index finger in one end and your right index finger in the other. Moving your fingers tightens its grip. Your natural inclination to break free from the trap is to pull your fingers apart. That move, however, only further tightens the thing. To escape the finger trap, you actually have to bring your fingertips toward one another, thereby enlarging the openings, loosening the grip, and—voilá (whallah)!—you’re released.

When I'm in the thick of my problems, I try to pull my fingers apart. I struggle and pull, toss and turn. I do everything in my power to find release from the trap. Meanwhile, the grip of my problems only tightens its hold on me. So I do it some more.

But when I stop and just feel my fingers pulsate for a minute, I relax. Then I reassess. My problem has faded in comparison to the pain in my fingers. I've been fighting arrogantly, pridefully saying, "I'll just fix this myself, thank you very much."

Miracle of miracles—when I do the thing most unnatural for my SELF, when I let the Spirit of God take over and direct me ("Jodi, try pushing your fingertips toward each other, rather than pulling them apart"), I'm suddenly free. Sure, I have arguments with the Spirit, saying, "That's the most foolish thing I've ever heard! Why would I do the exact opposite of what I want to do?" He tends to win those arguments...usually only when my fingers are throbbing and I'm at my whit's end.

It's too bad I'm such a slow learner. I've caused myself a lot of unnecessary pain. But I can now say that doing things "MY way, thank you very much," is definitely losing its grip on me.

Are you in the thick of a problem right now, actively pulling your fingers apart from each other? Musing and worrying and attempting all things human for a way out, or a solution? Is there, perhaps, a better way?

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."
Proverbs 14:12

"We live by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7