Naming and Numbering

Earlier today, the Lord used His common grace to show me – yet again – my relentless tendency to self-deceive (Jeremiah 17:9). I didn’t much enjoy the experience, but still managed to come away from it with an enhanced appreciation for “what reality looks like” vs. “what my desired version of reality looks like.” I think that’s a really good thing; anytime God uses everyday people, places and events to peel back a layer of blindness on my soul, it’s a great day…even if it does sting a bit. If nothing else, it reminds me that He still cares about me and has great plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11).

Not Good. Not Right.

Not good…not right.

Today’s unplanned lesson in humility came from a routine trip to my general practitioner for a check-up. As my vitals were being taken, the electronic device she was using indicated that my blood pressure numbers looked really bad. Clearly, my heart insisted, this piece of equipment isĀ obviously faulty. I’m not that out of shape!

The numbers registered high enough, in fact, that the nurse checking me in decided to give me some time to calm down from my trip into the clinic and try again. Twenty minutes later…identical results. Not good. Not right. So this is what a better-informed “real reality” looks like:

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. While BP can change from minute to minute with changes in posture, exercise, stress or sleep, it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg (less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic) for an adult age 20 or over.
American Heart Association

My long-suffering doctor used the occasion of these poor results to let me know that it was time to either 1) get in shape, or 2) start looking at medications to control my BP. Having watched my father go through this particular gauntlet some 30 years ago, my heart rebelled at the idea that in middle age I have become more like him than I ever wanted to imagine. I could “hear” my heart protesting the clear verdict: “Look at this reading from last week! This one is much better!” When I started scambling to produce my blood donor card – as clear proof that I did not in fact have a problem – God graciously “showed” me that I have even more going on than just elevated blood-pressure.

Some of my favorite passages of Scripture are those that allow us to see into the hearts of others who, on the one hand, praised God with their lips…but in their daily lives had little use for Him. King David is named by Nathan the Prophet as an adulterer and a murderer (2 Samuel 12:1-15). The Pharisees get a prolonged tongue-lashing for their hypocrisy and are given The Seven Woes by Jesus (Matthew 23:1-36). Saul is more than a little bit surprised to find out that he has, in fact, been persecuting and killing the beloved ones of the very God he claims to serve (Acts 9).

God’s Word has literally hundreds of these reversals in it, both Old Testament and New.

It’s almost as if God loves us so much that He refuses to allow us to willfully blind ourselves without the process leaving some sort of spiritual itching powder on the surface of our soul: “OK, go ahead and kid yourself about being a Good, Faithful Christian Boy if you like…but you belong to Me now, and in time I’ll try to gently teach you one or two things.”

Thank God that King David had a fearless prophet like Nathan! Thank God that He opened up a can all over Saul as he was taking his trip up to Damascus! For you and me, living in the here-and-now, thank God that in His mercy He has given us His Word and His grace to receive it, and to measure ourselves against the relentless tendency we have to lie to ourselves.

And yes, thank God that He uses the mundane and the everyday to intrude upon our willful ignorance from time to time. Whether we enjoy the process our not is really not the point; the thing to hold onto is the person (or primary care doc) who has the willingness to invest in your life by speaking truth: “You can either get back in shape or you can start taking more pills…your call.”

Psalm 36:1-4
Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.

1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Jesus in Revelation 3:17:
“For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,’ not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

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