Today’s blog uses an illustration from my school years. I grew up smack-dab in the middle of the Baby-Boomer generation. We received straightforward vaccines, usually not combined with multiple vaccines in the same shot. Back then, babies didn’t get as many vaccinations as they do today. Yes, babies DID get their shots, but not as many as they do now at the time of this writing. Since the 1980s, vaccinations have become an increasingly hot topic of debate with passionate arguments and valid points on both sides of the fence.
In this blog, however, I am merely referring to a personal childhood anecdote to illustrate the scriptural principle I am attempting to make. This is not a political statement, nor is it meant to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of not vaccinating your children. I am well aware the times I speak of in this devotion do not necessarily reflect the times of today! Now that’s all taken care of, let’s continue!
Walking home from school one day in early June, I clutched a stapled bundle of pink index cards in my clammy hand. A bead of sweat trickled down my brow. As I looked down upon a series of inoculation cards, I saw visions of the impending sharp needles jabbing into my poor defenceless ten-year-old bicep. I had to avoid those jabs at all costs! Summoning all the vast logic and reasoning skills I had gathered at my tender age, I came up with a brilliant idea. If my mother didn’t sign those cards, then I would not have to deliver them back to the school nurse, and thus, I would avoid the pain. And so, with a casual flick of my wrist, I tossed the little bundle over the nearest fence and happily went on my way. Problem solved!
Somehow, much to my chagrin, the inoculation cards still made their way to my mother. They arrived in the nurse’s office without my help, duly signed and initialled. And so, on that fateful day, I lined up outside the school nurse’s office with my classmates – in alphabetical order. Being that my last name started with W; I was at the back of the queue as usual. My anxiety grew as classmates filed out of the nurse’s office smelling of rubbing alcohol; even some boys sniffled back tears as they walked past me.
I found comfort in the notion that I had more fortitude than Julie Thomas, who was our class fainter. It didn’t matter what we stood in line for – vaccinations, confession, report cards – Julie always fainted. Whenever I see videos of those cute fainting goats on YouTube, I think of her, but I digress. When my turn arrived, I was a brave soldier and took it without a single tear or a quivering lip. I must admit though, for a few days I found it hard to forgive whoever delivered those inoculation cards to my mother.
In reality, a long time ago spans only a few days in the life of a ten-year-old on summer vacation. I quickly forgot the trauma of inoculation day. After all, the streets were full of playmates; we enjoyed the outdoors from early morning to late dusk. We gathered in hordes at the local swimming pool, and the more bookish among us regularly visited the children’s library. There were healthy, rambunctious children everywhere you went.
When school resumed, the nurse’s office didn’t earn a second glance from me as I walked past. Several of my old classmates who had stood in line with me that dreaded day in June greeted me. After a morning of orientation, I made my way home for lunch; eager to hear about my siblings’ first-day experiences. My usual talkative brother was strangely quiet that day. He was pale under his summer tan. After a bit of coaxing, he finally opened up.
When Tim entered his class that morning, he noticed one of his best friends was absent. Tim had looked forward to seeing him as it had been months since the two friends saw each other. His friend’s parents received permission to withdraw their two children early from school due to an overseas trip. Unfortunately, by missing the last couple of weeks of school, the siblings were not inoculated.
My brother’s teacher broke the news to her class. Somewhere in their travels, the siblings contracted the measles. The younger sister of Tim’s friend died just a few days before school began. She had been a schoolyard favourite, with her sunny disposition and curly red hair. The whole school mourned her loss.
As an adult, I no longer remember the sharp prick of the needle but I stay thankful for that momentary pain. I was just one of the thousands of school children in my city that escaped a worldwide measles outbreak that year.
I am just as thankful for God’s words of correction and conviction. Although there is a momentary sting when my sin is exposed, I welcome it! Not only does the Holy Spirit’s conviction protect me from future consequences of sin unchecked, it also brings immediate restorative healing benefits. By hardening my heart, I might avoid the unpleasant emotions attached to guilt, but why would I do so? Repentance sets me free, and his forgiveness makes me clean. And as I embrace conviction, I never worry that my disease-riddled heart will infect those around me.
Hebrews 4:12-16 (NKJV) – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Is there an area of your life where you have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Conviction extends to you an invitation to walk in freedom. Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV) -“Come now, and let us reason together,:“ Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
Take God up on his offer. Don’t let your heart harden and don’t allow your conscience to sear. Allow the vaccine of God’s truth about you to innoculate you against the sickness of the soul with which the enemy would try to infect you. As you approach God, you’ll find forgiveness, grace, and mercy in his presence ready to soften that momentary sting of conviction. Be warned, the longer you put off dealing with heart issues, the more the enemy will try to tempt you to avoid the only one capable of bringing lasting peace.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Until Next Week
2019 Katherine Walden
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