The sting of peroxide brought a burning to my flesh that I had never known before, but stuck with me throughout my childhood. I was five. I had been waiting for a birthday card to come in the mail from my Grams. As I ran toward the door to head out to the mailbox, I could hear my mother screaming from the kitchen, “Don’t you run down those steps, Louisa Nicole! You’ll fall and hurt yourself!” Only a few feet away from our front door were about 4 small steps that lead to our mailbox. Do you think I listened? Of course not. However, instead of running down the steps in order to reach the mailbox quicker, I ran UP the steps in excitement as I waved my birthday card above my head. Hitting the ground harder than I expected, tears began to flood my eyes. In my family, you didn’t cry, and before I could reach the door handle, I wiped away all the tears that had just fallen. I was prepared for the death glare from my mother. As I walked through the door, blood dripping from my feet due to my willful disobedience, my mother breathed heavily the words no five-year-old wants to hear: “go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I’ll clean it up with some peroxide”. My face winced and scrunched with each drop of peroxide poured on my wound. I looked down at my foot, surprised that the gash was not bigger than it was. I was surprised to see just a little cut above my ankle bone, no larger than my pinky nail. But, boy did it bleed. If I had only listened to the warning my mother spoke before I left the safety of leveled ground. I am 31 now and still carry the scar that reminds me of my disobedience due to my desires and affections being for something that I thought, in my tiny five-year-old brain, would satisfy and bring more joy than obedience would. This willful disobedience was the story of my childhood. There are more stories about being electrocuted, accidentally cutting myself with butcher knives, and even almost losing my brother to a bike accident. All the scars and pain still linger as I remember each of those incidences where I disobeyed and paid for it with dire consequences.
But I Really Messed Up
Maybe you haven’t electrocuted yourself recently due to your disobedience, however, perhaps you’re in a position where the spiritual peroxide of God is being poured out on your self-inflicted wounds and you’re crying out for Him to stop. Maybe you’re like me, and you learn the hard way. Maybe you’re like the two-year-old who is walking around your mother’s feet in the kitchen while she cooks, and she lovingly reminds you not to touch the hot oven. Maybe now you have scars from the blisters that you received from not believing your mother when she told you the oven was, indeed, hot. Maybe you committed adultery and you’re staring down the barrel of an ugly divorce. Maybe you were found out at work that you lied about a project you were working on, and you received the news that you’re being fired from your position. Maybe you fudged on your taxes and everything is being taken from you. Maybe your hidden pornography use has become more satisfying to you than being intimate with your spouse. Maybe even after the counsel of another believer, you got too close to that friend you have and you’ve made the relationship an idol where you cannot imagine life without this person. Maybe you just really messed up this time.
Hope to Fight the Lies
Contrary to the lies you’re believing about your current afflicted state, there is hope. But, there is only One Hope. This Hope has the power to heal, change, and meet you in this prison you have chosen to lock yourself into. He alone holds the keys. In my own destructive sinful failures recently, I have seen Christ wooing me back to the wilderness by the Bread that He offers: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When Jesus was being tempted, He did not quote this Scripture from Deuteronomy as His first line of defense. His primary line of defense was that He was already trained in how to USE the Scripture as a weapon to fight the lies of Satan. Jesus’ greatest skill in war with the enemy was not shooting the bullets of Scripture at the enemy hoping that will magically disintegrate the powers of darkness. No, His primary skill was obedience. This obedience He even followed to the point of His death. The writer of Hebrews declares that Jesus was as a son who “learned obedience….” (Hebrews 5:7-9). To live by any Bread other than the bread of loving obedience to the Word of God is doing nothing but storing up for yourself the empty calories that avoidance and self-righteousness offer. This bread that God talks about when He gives the Israelites this reminder in Deuteronomy 8:3, is a reminder that God’s Word teaches us to be obedient disciples of Jesus. God begins the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy with a reminder to His children that they must carefully do all that He has commanded them to do: follow, be obedient. This is where true joy and satisfaction are found. If you are not like the Psalmist who declares for 176 verses of his desperate love, need, and desire to be changed by God’s Word, then your obedience might be more like the Pharisees who make thousands of lists and rules, but does them for the sake of doing them. Not out of love. I want my love for God’s Word to make me an obedient follower of Jesus and His Word, not a list keeper.
Where Sin Abounds, Grace Abounds Much More
Our disobedience might leave scars in our own lives, and possibly in the lives of others. Here is the hope, though: Christ was perfectly obedient where we fail miserably. HIS obedience transfers me from the domain of darkness and the pipeline to hell, to the domain of Light, His light. When I behold such kindness, mercy, and love, I cannot help but be transformed into the One I behold as I seek to become more obedient. I am not identified by my sinful failures. However, just like any disobedient child, I must be disciplined. Sometimes that discipline comes from the death glare, or peroxide. Sometimes that discipline comes from my entire world being wrecked as I watch the kingdom I have built for myself come crumbling down. However, His loving discipline should bring us to return to the Lord in repentance. Where God has “torn us, he will heal us; where He has struck us down, He will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1). When we fail, it is an opportunity for God to teach us WHY we failed. His tearing us down is not like the tearing down of an abusive parent, but rather the tearing down of the fantasy world that you built with your lust, greed, envy, and pride. What will be built is a beautiful tapestry of God’s grace to be seen through. You will become a vessel of God’s mercy to extend to the hopeless, disobedient world around you. There is good in the stinging pain of God’s peroxide. Let it clean out the wounds of your self-inflicted misery. Remember, your only hope is the truth that Christ was obedient. Perfectly.