We had some especially good pizza the other night for dinner. But just
about every time we have especially good pizza for dinner, I wake up
in the middle of the night thinking my teeth are wearing little
sweaters. It seems I almost always have to pay for good pizza with
that fuzzy-toothed feeling sometime after midnight. Has it happened to
you? You sort of picture your teeth molding.
You can?t smack a few times and get rid of it. You can?t even de-fuzz
with a drink of water. No, if you want to get rid of it, the only way
to unbutton the little tooth-sweaters is to brush. There have been
times I?ve felt compelled to fight off pizza-sweater cavities by
brushing at two o?clock in the morning. I head back to bed a little
tired, but at least feeling I?ve done my part to fight tooth decay.
?Truth decay? is pretty similar, though it?s not actually the truth
that decays. The truth is ever sure, never fuzzy, always unchanging.
It?s our personal honesty that can lose its sheen.
We can prevent personal truth decay by brushing up on God?s Word and
sinking our teeth into His eternal truths. Time spent in God?s Word
results in understanding more about His character, more about how we
are to walk in Him, more about the life of righteousness lived in
truth. He tells us in His Word in no uncertain terms that our honesty
is important to Him. There are no ?little white lies? in God?s book.
Anything untrue is big and dark and ugly. The truth is completely
non-elastic, so when we stretch the truth, it?s not the truth anymore.
God hates lies. He hates them because they?re opposed to His nature
(He IS truth) and because He knows lies hurt us and they hurt others.
Ephesians 4:25 says, ?Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each
one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one
of another,? (ESV).
In Zechariah 8:16, the Lord spells out our truth instructions. ?These
are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another;
render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace,?
(ESV). Sometimes truth is work. It?s easier to make up an excuse about
why we?re late or exaggerate a success?leave out a fact here and
embellish one there. The truth might even get about as tiring as
midnight brushing, but His Word tells us it?s our part. And God wants
our truthfulness to be part of who we are?right down to our souls.
Psalm 51:6 says, ?Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you
teach me wisdom in the inmost place,? (NIV).
When we?re respecting the truth in every way we delight Him. Proverbs
12:22 tells us that, ?The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in
men who are truthful? (NIV).
If you?ve been a little careless with the truth, maybe it?s time to
delight your Father by polishing up your commitment to integrity and
complete honesty. You?ll be refreshed in the truth and armed for right
living. Armed to the teeth, even.
My favorite places to write are coffee shops. There’s something about the aroma of so many good coffees that seems to cause more of my neurons to start firing. Somebody should make a scratch-n-sniff version I can take home. But since I haven’t found one, when there’s a deadline looming, I head to my fave café spot until I’m finished. I think I almost won the employee of the month award there once.
Last time I walked into “my” café just for a fun lunch, I took a long sniff and said, “Mmm, smells like a book deadline in here.” Another writer friend fired right back, “Hmm, smells like procrastination to me.” Potato/Po-tah-to.
They do have a great potato/po-tah-to soup on the lunch menu at my coffee café. It’s not often I have any left over, but I did a few months ago. I packaged it up to take home and got it as far as my car, but then I forgot it. My son borrowed my car for a week or so and the soup ended up shoved way under the seat in the back.
By the time I got back in my car, it made my eyes water. It didn’t help that on top of the potato soup stench, Daniel had left several socks in a kind of compost pile. The whole car smelled like the monkey cages at the zoo. This was scratching and sniffing of a whole different order. Some smells are hard to ignore. Even with the windows down. Even with the windows down for several weeks in a row. It’s clear that sometimes a to-go order loses something in translation. Or in transportation.
In Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith,” we read that God gave Abraham a to-go order of a different kind. What did Abraham do? He took off! Nevermind the where. He packed up his faith and hit the road. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going,” (Hebrews 11:8). What a great example of faith and obedience—going!
We’ve been given a to-go order too. In John 20:21, the resurrected Jesus said to His followers, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And He made no bones about it in Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” His “therefore go” is our charge. What a privilege to be sent on such a thrilling mission by the Savior Himself.
As we go, we’re His billboards. And we’re spreading the sweet perfume of Christ at the same time. This is so much better than anything scratch-n-sniff. “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place,” (2 Corinthians 2:14, HCSB). The aroma of Christ! Others are influenced—changed, even, by Christ—when we wear His perfume. We’re sent. And we’re His scent.
It’s a glorious aroma. No matter how long you drive it around in your car.
I keep trying to find a friendly-sounding alarm clock. Do you have one of those alarms that shrieks at the decibel level of a tornado siren? The alarm goes off, you jolt up in a panic, heart pounding, barely catching yourself before you sprint to the nearest storm shelter. Ever find those fingernail marks in the ceiling over your bed? And my alarm doesn’t blast and then stop. No, it just keeps on shrieking. Smashing it with a fist does nothing—except cause major fist pain. Throwing it across the room doesn’t faze it. Stomping on it doesn’t do much either. Maybe you can guess why I never keep a sledge hammer beside my bed. Or C-4.
Why don’t they make an alarm clock that gently jostles my shoulder while softly informing me that the cinnamon rolls are ready?
The thing is, if I ever found that kind of pleasant alarm clock, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t wake me. I guess that means there really is purpose in the shriek.
I’m convinced that there are times I need a soul alarm, too. And not a soft jostle. A good shrieking jolt. In Psalm 57, David sounds the alarm with an “Awake, my soul!”
David says, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth,” (verses 7-11).
David is telling his sleepy-head soul to get in gear, loving, serving and glorifying the name of God. He’s waking up that part of him that is built to praise the God of the universe, readying himself for a new day of telling the whole world of the Father’s wonderful love, of His amazing faithfulness and of His vast glory.
Rejoicing in his circumstances? Not so much. David was in a cave, hiding from the king who hated him. He was in danger, running for his life. Sometimes when our circumstances aren’t exactly the best, we need to awaken our souls all the more to understand the goodness of God and to enthusiastically sing praises to the Father from every part of our being. David’s dire circumstances and his unjust treatment screamed an urgency to share the Lord with a lost world, to contrast the wickedness of evildoers with the greatness of God. There was still great purpose in the shriek.
No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, our heavenly Father’s greatness always, always calls for celebration. Sometimes loud celebration. Sometimes quiet celebration.
And me? Sometimes I like to celebrate with cinnamon rolls.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I have some very unique and useful character qualities. Granted, most better psychoanalysts might not refer to them as “character qualities” as much as they refer to them as “symptoms,” but still.
I think writers get a few symptoms
I mean, “qualities”
that normal people don’t get. Fiction writers, for instance, actually encourage those little voices in their heads. This week, though, I experienced another one. It’s that thing where I keep thinking I’ve misspelled words even when I haven’t. I think I might be a typo-chondriac.
Interestingly, if they come up with a 12-step program for typo-chondriacs, I’m pretty sure step one will be admitting you don’t have a problem.
When it comes to successfully walking out this life for Christ, though, we have to recognize right from the get-go our complete lack of ability to make it happen ourselves. We do have a problem. And without surrendering to the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit, I don’t even have a horn to toot. Not a leg to stand on. Not a keyboard to type on. It’s got to be all Him and zero me.
Me? I have nothing to offer. Especially since along with my typo-chondria, I think I might be coming down with a touch of kleptomania. Gee, I hope there’s something I can take for it.
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Those are the five stages of going up a dress size. And for the record, that last one is not a certainty.
I just tried on everything in my closet. I squeezed out of one and into another, wormed out of that one and back in to the next. I shook my head in the mirror, wondering why every stinkin’ thing in my entire closet made me look fat. That’s when I had a sudden and oh so abysmal realization: It’s not the clothes in my closet making me look fat. It’s this FAT that’s making me look fat.
I consider myself a positive person. But I have to admit that keeping my chin up is a lot more challenging now that I have more than one. You know, more than one chin. These days keeping my chin up, is more like
juggling. And at the same time, there’s jiggling. Jiggling and juggling. There’s a thought that’ll send me through another round of at least four of the five stages.
In truth, though, keeping your chin up is not so much about where you keep your chin’ or “chins,” as the case may be. No, it’s not about the chins at all. It’s about the eyes. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, focusing on everything eternal, will bring us right back around to everything that’s truly positive’ everything that will always truly count.
“Count” as in, “have great significance or importance.” Not count as in determining the number of chins. That’s another subject to juggle. Sometimes in four to five stages.