Theme of the Week: Staying On Course
Bible Verse: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12
Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:1-10
Doctors tell us that amputees often experience some sensation of a phantom limb. Somewhere, locked in their brains, a memory lingers of the nonexistent hand or leg. For a few, the experience goes beyond a sensation. It includes pain. Doctors watch helplessly, for the part of the body screaming for attention does not exist.
One such patient was a medical school administrator named Mr. Barwick. He had a serious and painful circulation problem in his leg but he refused to allow the recommended amputation. As the pain grew worse, Barwick grew bitter.
“I hate it! I hate it!” he would mutter about the leg. At last he relented and told the doctor, “I can’t stand it anymore. I’m through with that leg. Take it off.” Surgery was scheduled immediately.
But before the operation, Barwick asked the doctor, “What do you do with legs after they’re removed?”
“We may take a biopsy or explore them a bit, but afterwards we incinerate them,” the doctor replied.
Barwick proceeded with a bizarre request: “I would like you to preserve my leg in a pickling jar. I will install it on my mantle shelf. Then, as I sit in my armchair, I will taunt that leg, ‘Hah!’ You can’t hurt me anymore!’”
Ultimately, he got his wish. But the despised leg had the last laugh.
Barwick suffered phantom limb pain of the worst degree. The wound healed, but he could feel the pressure of the swelling as the muscles cramped. It was torture and he could find no relief. The doctor (Paul Brand) said Barwick had hated the leg with such intensity that the pain had lodged permanently in his brain.
For Christians, phantom limb pain provides wonderful insight into the phenomenon of false guilt.
Christians can be obsessed by the memory of some sin committed years ago. It never leaves them, crippling their ministry, paralyzing their devotional life, mutilating their relationships with others.
They live in fear that someone will discover their past.
They work overtime trying to prove to God they are truly repentant.
They erect barriers against the loving grace of God.
But in Jeremiah 31:33-34 when God promised to make a covenant with us, He said:
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Did you catch that last phrase? God said in the new covenant He will remember their sins no more!
If you are obsessed or plagued by the memory of some sin committed years ago, all you have to do is confess it. God will take it from there.
Content taken from Staying on Course by Dr. Garth Leno, ©2001. Used with permission.
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