Permit me to geek out for a moment – or don’t, but a whole tidal wave of geek is coming anyway. Prepare for drenching.
Our immune system fascinates me mainly because of the God who created it. The immune system is truly the only system that can learn from insult, injury and impact. One cell tells another which morphs into a new cell and thousands of steps later a choreography of microbiology has won a microscopic war. You get a paper cut or the measles and a huge cascade of little soldiers throughout your body runs to repair, remedy and remember. I still recall my own pint sized horror when my mother suggested I share a juice cup with my then chicken pox-laden little sister, but she knew that I’d survive it and be better for it – immunologically speaking.
Our immune systems entertain a tolerance threshold, that is, certain insults can be sustained without reaction. The common wart – Verruca vulgaris – is a perfect, silent stowaway. The wart can appear on your foot or hand and grows so silently, requiring such limited resources from it’s host, you, that your immune system basically allows it to stay – like a dermatological squatter. Gross. But reality. If the wart were to get greedy and demand additional territory or neighbors or grow too quickly – your immune system would kick into Chuck Norris mode and annihilate the offender. Nonetheless the little nasty is hanging out there on your big toe – not loud enough for you to pick up the phone for that doctors appointment to address it, but icky enough that it bothers you a little bit everyday – you know it’s there, calling your name, making you feel less than awesome – slowly sapping your game.
Catch the foxes, the little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15
We’ve been married for 4 years – grandeur in love, life and doing a share of learning all the time. What’s his favorite color? Where do our parenting styles intersect? Why does it drive me insane that he doesn’t put the lid back ALL THE WAY on ANYTHING? You get soy sauce and ketchup on the ceiling, your hair and best shirt and it’s funny basically never. The sweet truth is that I married the very best man, our God has united us in the only covenant humans can make with their Father, and that iron sharpens iron everyday. I am so proud to be his wife while I recognize we are under attack everyday. The world hates marriage – more specifically the ruler of this world hates anything God has created and blessed.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The Usual Suspects
The sneaky business of breaking down a person, a friendship, a marriage and an immune system requires two talents: 1) Destruction must yield to dessication and more subtle forms of decay and 2) The author of that demolition must never be revealed, but mired in a menagerie of nom de plumes. Take a marriage buried in lies and adultery: no one wakes up one day and decides, ‘I’d like to give up my loving partnership today; I’m going to the nearest bar to select and sleep with the very next man/woman I can find.’ The marriage became a wasteland of pain and hurt from daily tiny choices made over and over; ‘My husband doesn’t listen to me that way I want him to…. but [insert man’s name] at the office does.’ Today she lingers at his cubicle for just another conversation, a quick joke. Tomorrow it’s sharing a lunch hour. Thursday it’s staying late on purpose to work together on that project. Friday next it’s drinks after work…. and months later it’s sex, divorce, displaced children and heartache. All the while the devil, never being obvious in his destructive plans, is cheering on the moment by moment downfall of family and matrimony. I can picture a crowd of his workers raising a roar as she/he/we continue to choose selfishness, anger, suspicion, and greed instead of love and patience. The awful irony is that once found at the end of this road, the former husband and wife might look at each other and say, How did we get here?, not grasping that it was their daily baby steps and silent agreement with the devil’s patient undoing of their love that led them down this path.
The warts and foxes then are not direct onslaughts to our relationships with God and one another. In fact, ask that friendship where one partner survived cancer or a house fire or some other direct hit. This clear and present danger may have even resulted in greater love and fidelity in the pair because the size and shape of the battle was clear and the two then linked arms to face it head on. No, it is the tiny, almost cellular injuries of a poorly chosen word, a harsh tone, impatience because I’m so tired, or no sex this week because the kids have kept me up and he’s been home late from the office everyday. It’s the choice to assume the worst of one another; “She didn’t return my text because she’s selfish. He pays more attention to his phone than me.” And so on. As long as the offense stays below our detectable threshold, we will entertain the poisoning until one day we all will say, How did we get here?
The better irony is that often the cure is almost laughably simple. That wart? Throw a swatch of duct tape over it for a few days. No joke. Deprive that little bugger of air and daylight, drown out it’s ability to linger and spread and before you know it – it’s gone. Similarly, offer a open facial expression, a compliment or a warm meal to that husband/wife, a hug to that disobedient child, a truckload of empathy to that aggressive coworker. Starve your old self of the ability to breathe/grow/strengthen and before you know it, it’s gone.
God then offers a replacement for that old self – someone better, stronger and bathed in the freedom to see the enemy clearly and to rise above his tactics. The glory is that God offers a path similarly built in daily choices however brilliant in their gleaming clarity. Choose in this moment a kind word, open eyes and a warmth of spirit instead of a selfish tone. Assume the best of one another ALWAYS even when, and mostly we don’t, deserve it. Be alert for the roaming foxes that seek to eat away at the edges of our vineyards, that is, our child rearing, our relationships and our time with God. Our Father is so pure in His love for us that He has revealed Himself in His Son and in His Word – clearly outlining His beautiful intentions for us and warning us of all that seeks to steal our joy and sap our strength.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
So then, for those of us brave enough to seek a new way of being or who are just plain tired of being robbed with our eyes wide open, let’s choose now to destroy the very first signs of warts, foxes, and thieves. I’m done with holding open the front door of my life and welcoming in the criminal. And I am hungry for the adventure of living life to the full.