“It’s just a funny mole”, she said.
“Get it checked!” we urged her.
We had all noticed the mole just above Barb’s left knee. Its unusual flatness had a border that kept changing, and it was a funny, dark color. When Annette’s husband, Ken, left Barb cute little notes all over the house encouraging her to see a doctor, she finally relented and made the appointment.
The doctor later confessed his first, unspoken thought was, “She’s a goner”. What he actually acknowledged was that it was suspicious looking, and ordered an immediate biopsy. The pathology report came back with words no twenty-three-year-old wants or expects to read; malignant melanoma. That same week a plastic surgeon was called in to remove it. Then in order to prevent any loose cancer cells from escaping and growing elsewhere, he repeated the procedure one more time, cutting a little deeper and a little wider.
The already tight bonds of our family strengthened even more as we waited for those lab results, knowing that new growth could mean serious trouble. Melanoma spreads so quickly that often by the time the patient is diagnosed the cancer has already metastasized throughout the system, and is incurable. It was a very tense couple of days, but to our relief that second pathology report showed a border of clean, normal cells. Whooping and hollering and praising God followed the news.
The doctor’s initial fear had been that the melanoma was too advanced to halt. If Barb had waited even two weeks more before seeing him, she probably would not be here today. Praise God that she listened to the people who loved her, and heeded their counsel.
In a very real sense, sin is a lot like Barb’s cancer. It appears harmless enough on the outside, and so it is easy to rationalize away, or assume that it’s no big deal. But inside, unseen, it is spreading and growing, insinuating its sickness deep into otherwise healthy hearts and minds. There is no good in sin; like cancer, it seeks to corrupt and destroy, and the only cure is to completely remove it. There can be no compromise; any sin that is allowed to remain unchecked is a danger to our spiritual health.
Sometimes it’s hard to see, or admit, how bad our sin is. Often, someone else who is more objective sees it better than we do. I’ve learned that if someone who is truly seeking my best interest confronts me with an area of sin and urges me to cut it out—I need to listen! I cannot always see the effects of sin, because the greater damage is what happens deep within my soul.
The good news is that I have the best surgeon to bring healing—Jesus!
My part is to first go to Him, and let Him check me out. His diagnosis is always accurate, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Once He reveals the malignancy of the sin inside me, He wants to do what I cannot; eradicate it. All I have to do is to agree with His findings, and ask Him to operate. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. “ (1 John 1:9)
His goal is to take that which is unhealthy, and exchange it for something better; heart surgery is often required. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 35:25-26)
Let the Surgeon do His work.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
- Has anyone ever come to you, concerned about your wrong choices or behavior?
- Did you heed their words, or not?
- What was the outcome either way?
Father, Your forgiveness is one of the things for which I am most grateful. So many times I have let sin take root in my life. So many times I rationalized it away, telling myself it wasn’t that bad. It was only as I lived in the repercussions and the pain and regret that sin caused did I acknowledge its ugliness. Every time I came to You, seeking Your mercy, Your pardon, and a clean heart You answered with forgiveness. My heart is Yours—it is all I have, but it is all You want.