I ducked my head and stepped into the cramped, dank room. Pausing to let my eyes adjust to the inky darkness, a hundred beady eyes glared my way.
Distrust and fear seemed to be a prerequisite for entry and I felt a still, small voice checking my motive. I took a deep breath and stepped onto the dingy floor.
I had come for one purpose and intended to exit as quickly as I had come.
Boldly, I brushed past grotesque figures as the smells of smoke and stench filled my lungs. Some held liquor, some held knives, some simply clinched their fists in hatred.
I spotted my friends in the corner and moved briskly toward them. They were coming with me out of this hellish place.
We locked eyes and they both smiled in relief. Dressed to the nines, I was pleased that they looked so fresh in spite of their musty surroundings. I motioned to the door and they quickly stood to follow.
The crowd seemed restless and I avoided eye contact as the three of us wove our way to the door. The incense in the air was oppressive and I held my breath the last several steps. I welcomed the crisp fall air as I escaped into the starry openness of the night.
I was so relieved to make our get-away, I hadn’t noticed that the door had not yet closed. Slithering out with their friends, the whole lot of evil had followed us to my car.
I had only come for Jealousy and Selfish Ambition. Now, it seemed I was taking home much, much more.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:16).
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Isn’t it strange how we think that we can pick and choose our sins?
We feel that we can stroke the cat of jealously and yet leave the other “more dangerous” animals sleeping in the corner.
James tells us that this just isn’t so.
Selfishness, in any form, is ugly, wicked, and evil.
When we crack the door for selfishness, we’ve unwittingly invited a multitude of other devilish qualities. Our stubborn friendship with jealousy and ambition secretly invites their family members of hatred, strife, and impurity into our lives.
Have you allowed envy to infiltrate your life?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you have at least cracked the door to jealousy. And if this selfishness exists, your religion is just a covering for fleshliness.
“..those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8).
Spend some time allowing the Father to convict in regard to envy today. Ask Him to create a new spirit of freshness in your relationships.
What did He speak to you about today?
“MARK! WATCH OUT!”
My husband jerked the steering wheel but still grazed the parked motorcycle with our car. It was the second minor driving accident in two days.
Being the calm, soothing wife that I am, I asked, “What’s WRONG with you? You are driving like a mad man. Can’t you SEE????”
His negative answer surprised me. “Not really. I’m losing my peripheral vision.”
Several Taiwanese doctor visits later we received the diagnosis: Keratoconus: degeneration of the cornea.
We learned that although most keratoconus patients are able to have vision restored with rigid contacts, Mark’s eye couldn’t hold a contact. His right eye was shaped more like a football than an orb.
His cornea tissue was so thin that the inside of his eye was bulging outward, skewing his vision. Every time the optometrist placed a contact lens on Mark’s eye, his eye would spit it across the room. It is difficult to balance a convex lens on a cone shaped cornea.
“So what are our options?” we asked.
“Cornea transplant,” was the doctor’s shocking reply.
Mark’s Taiwanese doctor continued, “You don’t want to have it done here, as organ donation is rare. Buddhists believe in reincarnation and don’t want to go into the next life missing a vital organ.”
“I do perform some transplants, but I will be frank. The corneas that we receive are mostly ‘seconds’ from the states. Their quality is poor.”
Thus began a year and a half journey. We packed up our Taichung apartment, flew back to Texas and Mark was put on an organ waiting list. The sobering fact is that someone else must pass away before a transplant can be harvested.
Even after Mark’s surgery was complete, there were complications. The mother tissue didn’t bond with the foreign cornea. For 16 months, Mark endured misery as his eye attempted to reject the transplant.
It was a long sixteen months. We spent most of it hovering around a 15 watt light bulb.
Yet, as we walked together through those valley of shadows, we discovered something that the Psalmist knew thousands of years prior:
It’s in the valley that our Shepherd is nearest.
Go back with me to Psalm 23. When King David began his prose, he spoke of his Shepherd in third person.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
But when David descended into the shadows, his perspective changed. He spoke with the Lord, not just about Him.
“You are with me.”
Mark and I found this to be true not only through the transplant journey, but in each juncture where our road has narrowed and the shadows have deepened. Our conclusion?
Stop talking about prayer and begin talking to Him.
How about you? How does your conversation need to shift?