Learning to live biblically, I think, is like losing a lot of weight, and the best way I know to describe it is to show you before and after pictures of myself.
I got some good snapshots this afternoon at Urgent Care, moments before the doctor stuck a needle in my foot, gliding it into the same hole occupied by a shard of glass, the size of a Tic-Tac, that I had corkscrewed into the ball of my foot.
That really wasn’t on my agenda today.
So naturally, waiting in the doctor’s office for 45 minutes, I got impatient and began to wonder what was taking so long. “I mean, what’s up, it’s not like they were that busy….Ugh, the American Healthcare system, especially in a small town…Are there even any doctors on duty? I mean I need some competent help and….”
That is snapshot A – Me exercising my considerable gift of criticism.
Snapshot B was taken five seconds later when I thought, “I wonder how long it would take to get this glass out of my foot if I were Haitian.”
Would there be a doctor and a nurse standing by in Port au Prince with sterile instruments and anesthetics to numb the pain while they very capably dug the glass out of my foot? After their success, would there be a nearby pharmacy from which they could order a round of antibiotics for me; and if all this did exist, could I pay for it?
Repent has to be the most misunderstood word in the Christian lexicon. Before I read The Bible, I hated that word because it was the battle cry for every crazy, white-haired, bible-thumping fundamentalist in the world.
But the word repent in the Greek is metanoia and it means, to change your mind, to turn and go the other direction; and I think this is another way to look at Jesus’ teaching on the broad and narrow paths – something I talked about in a post called Two Paths.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. Matthew 7:13
In snapshot A, which used to be me all the time, I would have scarcely concealed my irritation when the doctor did get to me. That’s a broad path so often chosen that First World Problems are a meme. Who’s life am I improving with that behavior? Nobody’s. It’s destructive.
But because I have invited God’s Holy Spirit to invade me, Haiti popped into my head and helped me “repent” onto the narrow path where Jesus and his example live. As such, I thanked that doctor and nurse about 15 times for helping me and I meant it.
I’m not telling you this to excite you with my awesome holiness, I’m sharing it because I’m having some weight-loss success. The Bible is changing me from an occasionally sweet but mostly critical, impatient, eye-rolling, selfish American into something new and better. The work is ongoing and it’s often hard, but on days like today, I’m encouraged.
So, how To Solve Your First World Problem? Pack it up and mentally go to Haiti. How does it hold up there? Did it disappear and leave you feeling grateful instead? Repeat this every time you catch yourself complaining. It’s not easy or magic, it’s a narrow path practice.
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