Monday, September 15, 2014

For Real?

image from the Library of Congress, Prints and
Photograps Collection, no known restrictions for use
It's amazing what physical ailments can do to us.  Particularly if the change forces a change in lifestyle or in our physical appearance.  That part of our discussion may be slightly R rated.

We've seen a ton of articles and TV news items about our wounded warriors, veterans returning, physically (and maybe psychologically) damaged from going to war to protect us.  Some end up homeless, many have sight or limbs taken away by IEDs and the battles for our freedom.

Our illustration is a returned World War II vet, with a volunteer from the Red Cross helping to write a letter.  He looks happy.  I suspect it's a staged publicity picture, depicting how much difference the Red Cross can make or how easy the transition back to normal life wounded vets could experience. Definitely rosier than modern reality.  Think with me on this.

Those stories we mentioned often highlight technical advances that help our returning veterans to function more normally or about comfort dogs trained to be a companion and restore a happy state of mind.  

Cancer can also take away more than flesh.  I saw a story, Sunday, of a tattoo artist, here in Maryland, who changes that.  His name is Vinnie Myers, the shop is Little Vinnie's Tattoos, in Finksburg, MD.  The story was about women who had mastectomies and reconstructive surgery. There was a video that talked about the downside of the surgery.  

The reconstructive surgery creates a new breast, with a small tip to represent a nipple.  The surgeons would do a limited tattoo to color the nipple area.  It's never very realistic.  That's not a surgeon's area of expertise.  Many women have a sense, after a mastectomy, of not being whole, not being desirable.  There's psychological damage to go along with the physical.  And even the surgeon's bad nipple coloring doesn't help.  And that's where Vinnie comes in.  

The woman in the video drove 400 miles to see Vinnie.  He has women come from as far away as Dubai.  Because Vinnie Myers has perfected the art of creating a realistic looking nipple.  If we look at videos and pictures depicting before and after, we can see how good Vinnie is.  And, in every case in the videos, it's evident the immediate change in the women's sense of self worth.  

I've been more detailed about Vinnie Myers work than I might normally be, because it might be helpful for our readers with breast cancer.  A search for Vinnie Myers will bring up a number of articles about what he does. Some include videos that you may not want your kids to see.  They are graphic, but not risque or prurient.  The New York Times video is fairly informative.  But the tattoos are not really my point.  

The article about the nipple tattoos got me thinking about being damaged by sin and what it does to our self image.  Look at Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;". The problem with that is that sin, like cancer, is very personal in damaging us psychologically.  We rarely think of what someone else is going through, in similar circumstances.  

The attack on us seems so egregious and so personally aimed that we lose sight of the fact that we're not alone in being attacked.  We know Isaiah 64:6 tells us, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.".  But we tend to skip the part that says "we are all" and "we all do fade as a leaf".  Even though that verse is obviously in the plural, sin tells us it's just us, no one else.  The sinner next to us isn't a sinner, or at least isn't as much of a sinner.  And, even more, we're stuck digging ourselves out of our self created morass of sin.  But what does the Word say?

Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

That's quite a picture.  Life is a race, we have a crowd cheering us on.  But we tend to suit up with extra burdens.  Not just sin, but what sin does to our thinking and attitudes.  And, like many athletes, we think about what we should do or be able to do, half ignoring that there's a coach and maybe a training staff to make sure we're in top shape  and not carrying anything that would slow us down.  If we pay attention and listen.

Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2:10 (KJV)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We see yet another amazing picture in those verses.  It's God's grace that saves and delivers us. Which means that our good works, including our repentance, are a gift from God.  If, as it says in Matthew 6:33, our focus is on Him, the rest falls into place.  How about 1 Corinthians 6:20?  It reads, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.".  It's all a gift from God that's intended to glorify Him.  God sticks with us (Hebrews 13:5), He gives us the means to be connected and stay that way, allows us to recognize that and revel in it, giving Him the glory.  All of which helps us to maintain that connection.

Sin maims us, then has us living in the self image of our maimed being.  God is always there, at the ready.  He's the one who supplies our spiritual prosthetics and does our spiritual cosmetic surgery. He gives us the best spiritually camouflaging tattoos.  We can look in the spiritual mirror and see Jesus.  And we are those "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.", as it says in 1 Peter 1:5.  All it takes is staying connected to God.

How's your connection, today?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting illustration Bill. We often search for all the quick and easy counterfeits to deal with our sin. Only our Father can deal with the forgiveness and the healing. He is worth the "drive"