Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Tourniquet

Sometimes God shows us things while we are doing the menial and mundane tasks of life. The other day I went out to mow the yard right after morning devotions with the children. And, I want to share an analogy that the Lord gave me while I was working.

A man was working on his farm and had an accident that cut his arm terribly. He was lying on the ground in pain with much bleeding when his neighbor heard him and came to see the cause of such groanings. The neighbor said, "What Happened? Let me see what I can do, I have some experience as a paramedic." The farmer on the ground was too weary for much talking but told his story. (The explanation was broken by many groans and tears...and a little cursing. I have left out his explanation of the injury for the sake of brevity. But, I can tell you that if he had just read the owner's manual, or even the warning sticker on the tractor itself, this accident would not have happened.)
The good neighbor said, "These cuts are awfully deep. I have seen cases like this before, and I am afraid that I will have to do a tourniquet. I will put my belt tightly around the top of your arm to stop the bleeding."
The farmer, greatly alarmed, spoke with great force for his condition, "What?! But, if you use a tourniquet I will end up losing my arm."
The helpful neighbor said, "Yes, that is true. But, you have already lost so much blood that I am surprised you are even alert. I really think that I should apply the tourniquet without delay." And, with this he took off his belt and reached forward towards the ever whitening man.
"No, NO, I won't let you!" screamed the farmer with what strength he had left in him. "I won't live without an arm!"
"But, friend, you are going to die if you lose too much blood. I know what I am talking about, I have seen this before. Please, wouldn't it be better to live?" reasoned the neighbor.
The farmer, who is known for his stubbornness said, "NO! I would rather die than live without the use of my arm."
And, with this, the farmer passed out. It was a wonder than he was alert as long as he was!

The interpretation of the analogy (though I know that all analogies break down somewhere):
The farmer represents a man caught in sin. He knows that his actions are wrong. He ignored caution and continued in his sin. The owner's manual that he had long since thrown aside represents the Bible. But, even if he did not want to read the owner's manual cover to cover, every farmer knows that there are certain things on the tractor that are very dangerous. It is like folklore... every farmer knows there are some things you just don't do.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 NASB - emphasis mine)
Every human knows that there IS such a thing as right and wrong. Every human knows that there IS a God, a creator (though he may choose to push aside that knowledge, because it interferes with his lifestyle and desires.)
The neighbor (and paramedic) represents The Great Physician, that is Jesus. Jesus beckons mankind to set aside our sins. He tells us to be finished with these habitual sins:
“If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.(Matt 5:30 NASB)
Just as the good neighbor told the farmer that he would have to apply a tourniquet to save the farmer's life, so Jesus wants us to apply the Belt of Truth (see Ephesians 6:14) to our sins and cut them off! Jesus is asking unbelievers to cut out their sins to be saved! But, the wisdom of the world says that life is not worth living if we have to give up all of our pleasures to have salvation. But, we Christians know that this advice is skewed. Because, while we are commanded to quit committing these habitual sins, it is not to make life less enjoyable! Jesus says that He has come that we might have life more abundantly! (see John 10:10)

I am not preaching perfectionism. We humans will never be perfect. Only Jesus is perfect and without sin. (see 2 Cor 5:21) BUT, I think that our desire to cut sin out of our lives is an indicator of our love for Christ. If you have sins in your life, and you don't even care, then perhaps you are not truly saved. BUT, if you are aware of your sins and you are doing your best to flee from them, to cut them out of your life - then I say that Christ is at work in your heart!

Friends, it is better to leave aside these worldly pleasures than to go to hell and be forever separated from the Lord! True pleasure is found in the Lord, and it can be ours for all eternity!
You will make known to me the path of life;
         In Your presence is fullness of joy;
         In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11 NASB)
Keep looking to God, He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith! (see Heb 12:2) He can give you true joy! The sins that seem too good to let go of (gluttony, idolatry, adultery, and more) will not ever truly satisfy. But, Jesus Christ can satisfy!

Father, In your mercy, please use this post to touch the lives of those who read it! If there be any reading who are not yet Christians, please speak to their hearts and show them their sins. Show them that they are helpless without you. Show them that they will never have true joy except in you.
And, Lord, please use this post to challenge the readers who are already Christians. May we not grow lax, allowing sins to creep back into our lives. May we be ever tightening that tourniquet that keeps our sins away. Help us to better understand what it means to be a new creation, and how to put aside the old man.
Please, Father, keep all of my readers focused on You. Help them to look past me and my inadequacies, and to look to You and your Perfections!
I ask this in the Name of Your Glorious Son, Jesus, Amen.