OPELIKA, Ala. (BP)–My husband’s face turned pasty white and he began to sweat profusely. His trembling hands gripped the corners of the linen-clothed table in the center of the elegant, gourmet restaurant. “Jim, what’s happening?” I quickly asked. He didn’t answer. “Jim, are you OK?” I tried again. He took several gulps of water and answered hoarsely, “I don’t feel right. Something’s wrong. I’m dizzy.”
Ignoring my warning, Jim pushed his chair back from the table, stood on shaky legs, paused for balance and then staggered all of 10 feet before passing out. On the way down, the impact of his face hitting the corner of a heavy wooden chair caused his chin to split open and his top teeth to embed into his bottom lip. Blood was everywhere. Pandemonium broke out all over the restaurant. Women gasped. Men bolted from their chairs. The waitress nearby yelled for help as she rolled Jim over to see if he was breathing. In slow motion, I ran through quicksand on legs that seemed to have 50 pound concrete blocks strapped to them. “Oh, Lord! What’s happening?”
Within two minutes, Jim was surrounded by two managers, a medic and me. Being a man who doesn’t like attention drawn to himself, he attempted to make light of the situation. With his head in the waitress’s lap, blood everywhere, and a manager saying, “Mr. Plowman, we are calling an ambulance so we need for you to lie still until the paramedics arrive,” Jim argued that he was “fine.” “I just need to go to the hotel room and lie down for a minute,” he slurred through a mouth overflowing with blood and a gaping hole in his chin that revealed stuff not meant to be seen. “Calling an ambulance is ridiculous!” he continued. “Babe, you go ahead and finish your soup. I’ll just go to the room and splash some water on my face and I’ll be right back.” As if. The man was in dangerous denial. Of course, when he tried to get up, he fell back down.
Curious and horrified onlookers tried unsuccessfully not to stare as they walked by. While Jim’s body was temporarily out of order, his wit was fully intact with comments such as, “You should have seen the other guy” and “Does this mean we get free dessert?” Only Jim Plowman could pull off charm with a mangled face.
It wasn’t until Jim saw his face in a mirror that he agreed to a trip to the emergency room, which eight hours later resulted in 11 stitches and the diagnoses of a dislocated jaw. His passing out was caused from dehydration; the consequence of too much time in the steam room and sauna and not enough water. While our early anniversary trip to Asheville, N.C., didn’t end as romantically as I’d hoped, it did get me to thinking about some things.
How many times have I not wanted to admit something was “wrong” in my life? How often do I try to convince others and myself that I’m “fine” when I know, deep down, that something is not right? How many times have I failed to heed the warnings of the Holy Spirit or the wise counsel of God’s Word, only to suffer painful consequences as a result? I, too, have found myself in dangerous denial on more than one occasion.
The consequences of denying sin vary, but perhaps the worst of these is broken fellowship with God. The Israelites enjoyed God’s close and constant presence until they began to harbor unconfessed sin in their hearts. As a result, they were instructed to continue their journey into the Promised Land without God’s presence. God said, “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way” (Exodus 33:3).
King David was deemed a man after God’s own heart, but he knew the misery of broken fellowship with God. Throughout the Psalms, David beseeched God for restoration of fellowship. David also knew that not all sin is easily identified, but can cleverly hide in the corners of the heart. Desiring to bring unconfessed and hidden sin to light, David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
The good news of the Gospel is that God is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. He is abounding in love and faithfulness, and forgiving of wickedness, rebellion and sin (Exodus 34:6-7). While sin breaks fellowship with God, grace restores that fellowship. Sin builds a barrier between God and man, but grace tears it down. Sin stains us, makes us unclean and unfit for God’s presence, but grace washes us, clothes us in righteousness and enables us to enjoy his sweet and loving fellowship. This grace is freely offered to us through Christ alone. He bids us to come to Him and repent of sin, that he might live in and through us, and that we might rest in His amazing grace. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Lord, burst open the doors of my heart and reveal the sins I try to cover up. Scoop out the infections that have taken hold and cleanse me through your atonement. Fill the gaping hole with your righteousness and apply the soothing balm of your forgiveness. Then, Lord, stitch me back together again with your hands of mercy and, by your grace, make me stronger than before. Do this all for your glory and honor. Amen.
Ginger Plowman, author of “Don’t Make Me Count to Three,” “Heaven at Home” and “No More Whining: Three Easy Steps to Whine-Free Living” is the founder of Preparing the Way Ministries for which she speaks at women’s events, parenting conferences and home school conventions across the country. Visit her website at www.GingerPlowman.com.