Several friends rebuked me last week when I posted a picture on Facebook of the bloody mass a surgeon removed from my back. Simply too gross and inappropriate, they said.
In my defense, I told them I posted the gory post-surgical picture while I was still heavily sedated. I had hoped all my Facebook friends would rejoice with me at how the fatty lymphoma was successfully removed. But, oh well…
Always looking for an illustration for my sermons and blogs, I learned some great lessons from my surgery. Even if you weren’t able to rejoice in my gory Facebook picture last week, I hope you’ll at least rejoice in some of the important spiritual principles I gleaned:
- God’s blessings come not only through what He gives us, but also through what He removes. Actually, the two things are often just reverse sides of the same coin. My daughter Molly was in town for my surgery, and she helped me upgrade my wardrobe. This involved two distinct steps: She helped me go through the clothes in my closet to get rid of stuff I no longer needed; and she also took me to the store to purchase some new items. Both steps were important and necessary. Why? Because you can’t keep adding things to your life unless you’re willing to get rid of some other things.
- Sometimes our surgery is long overdue. The fatty lymphoma first appeared on my back nearly 30 years ago, and I probably should have had it removed decades ago. But the lump seemed mostly asymptomatic until the past few years, and I was just too cheap to spend money on surgery. The turning point came when the lump started causing back spasms, and I couldn’t procrastinate any longer. The experience made me wonder whether there might be some other toxic or unproductive elements in my life that I’ve tolerated far too long.
- When the Master Surgeon gets out His knife, it’s not a good idea to protest or squirm. Resistance is futile, as the old saying goes. Squirming will just make the process longer and more painful. In the case of my surgery last week, the wise surgeon pumped me so full of Valium that I couldn’t help but be submissive.
- Often God’s remedies are bloody rather than pretty. Can you imagine if Facebook and Twitter existed when Jesus died on the cross? Calvary was one of the bloodiest scenes in human history, but it was the necessary remedy for our sins. Today most of us have attempted to “sanitize” the gospel, removing all the blood and gore. We’ve created a bloodless Christianity—which, of course, is no longer the true gospel at all. The fact is this: You and I couldn’t have been saved without the shedding of Jesus’ blood. In contrast, our crosses today are mere ornaments of silver and gold, free of the blood and gore of Golgotha. We wear the cross, but seldom bear the cross. So it’s no surprise there’s such little transformation in our lives or impact on a watching world.
- The knife demonstrates God’s love, not His necessarily His judgment. Remember the knife Abraham wielded as if to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac? (Genesis 22) The result was a new revelation of God as Jehovah-Jireh, our faithful Provider. And Jesus assures us in John 15:1-5 that His gardener’s knife is not designed to destroy us, but rather to enable us to be more fruitful.
Can you see why I’m so happy I went “under the knife” last week? Yes, there was some momentary pain, but God meant it all for good (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28).
In the same way, I’m convinced He has a great plan to bless you today—both through the things He ADDS to your life and through the things He REMOVES. Don’t miss His blessings when they come!