By Maribeth Spangenberg
“O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.” Jeremiah 14:7
As I grasped the next log, a large splinter pierced my left forefinger. I attempted to pull it out with my teeth but the end broke off. The fire needed to be “stoked up” so I continued adding logs into the woodstove, all the while feeling the irritating pain of the imbedded splinter. To have stopped and ascended the two flights of stairs from the basement to fetch the tweezers from the bathroom would have taken too much time. “I’ll do it later,” I thought to myself, “it’s just a little splinter.”
Since I was already on the lower level and the dryer had finished its cycle, I then proceeded to fold the clean clothes. Combining and turning in each pair of socks proved difficult, as it pressed against my splintered finger. Upon inspection of my injury, I found that the ¼ inch piece of wood was amazingly causing redness and slight swelling at the sight. Yet, I still continued about my daily business.
I carried the clean clothes up to the kitchen, placing the two neatly folded stacks on the table and then proceeded to wash the breakfast dishes. My handicapped finger stung when it was immersed in the soapy water, but I continued until the job was completed.
Suddenly the Lord brought a convicting thought to my mind. “Did you pay for that ‘stolen’ package of toilet paper, yet?”
“I didn’t STEAL it, Lord,” I reckoned to myself, “I just forgot to pay for it since it was on the lower rack of the shopping cart.”
“But you realized the oversight as soon as you loaded the groceries into the van. Why didn’t you go right back into the store and rectify it?”
“But Lord,” I retorted, “You know the list of errands that I had to do that day and the tight schedule that I was on. To go back in would have taken too much time. Besides,” I rationalized, “it was their oversight, too. I’ll pay for it the next time I shop there.”
“Maribeth,” the Lord continued with His ceaseless patience, “I’m trying to teach you a lesson here. Don’t you see the relationship between the toilet paper and the splinter?”
Actually, I did; but at the moment I was unwilling to acknowledge it.
“That little splinter is a big source of irritation,” the Lord gently chided, “and it’s interfering with everything that you do. You may THINK that you can ignore it, but it’s still festering, causing more damage and getting infected, even in the short amount of time since it pricked you. In the same way, I know that you didn’t mean to forget to pay for the package of toilet paper, but it happened, just like the splinter. Even though unintentional, it’s still sin, festering deep within your soul, as the splinter harbors in the lower layers of the skin. Both need to be taken care of as soon as possible. Only then can your body and your conscience be relieved.”
I knew what I had to do. I immediately dried my hands, ventured up the second floor stairs, retrieved the tweezers, and painfully removed the splinter. Instant relief and healing occurred. I also resolved that as soon as I picked up my boys from basketball practice, I would return home by way of the food store and pay for my “smuggled” merchandise. I wanted nothing between my Lord and me!
Prayer: What an amazing God you are, Lord, to use such a seemingly insignificant incidence as a splinter to teach me such a valuable spiritual lesson! Thank you for caring enough to help me “remedy” those things that are “under the skin” so that nothing will stand between You and me!