My resume was all spiffed up. I had a cover letter prepared explaining my faith-step from the corporate world into the ministry, and I had a reference letter from my previous employer supporting my decision and singing my praises. After four months of "waiting on the Lord," I was sure my wait was over. The position the Lord had prepared for me was knocking at the door. All I had to do was deliver my resume to the church office the next morning.
Then I felt it...that familiar tingle on my lip. The tingle turned into an itch, the itch into a sting, and when the alarm woke me the next morning, a good-sized bump had risen. At noon it was painful to the touch and had doubled in size, and by three o'clock a juicy, green gooseberry was attached to my lip.
Herpes simplex virus type 1.
More commonly known as a cold sore, or a fever blister.
How could I face my prospective employer with this monstrosity hanging off my mouth? By the time my husband came home at 3:30, I had worked myself into a frenzy and I sobbed on his generous shoulder. Bless his heart; Bill has survived 20 years of my cold sore craziness. He caressed and consoled me, carefully avoiding facial contact, and offered to deliver the application for me.
Seriously, bless his heart.
Cold sores that develop on the outside are not only painful, they're ugly and embarrassing. The emotional pain is as bad as the physical pain. The world stares at that hideous grown, and friends offer compassion while averting their eyes. When the blister forms a weeping scab, people know, and some console you. When the scab rubs off and the sore reopens, people notice and you are offered advice. And finally, when only a pink scar mars your lip, people see that too, and rejoice with you in your healing.
Despite these benefits of outer cold sores, I prefer the blisters that grow on the inside, hidden from the world, my nasty little secret. No one need see my ugliness and know I'm suffering. Ah, but the pain of a hidden pustule is ever so much more severe. In the moist darkness of its lair, the sore festers and is slow to heal. It's a constant pain, a continual reminder of its presence.
Likewise, I have a habit of preferring my sin infestations to stay hidden. I allow them to fester in the confines of my soul, a constant spike in my heart. The battle for spiritual healing rages inside, while I smile pretty and play the good Christian on the outside, pretending nothing is wrong.
Might it be better if I quit suffering in silence and loose my monstrosities from where I hide them away? The humiliation of revealing my sins may not be as excruciating as I fear.
After all, James tells us to confess to one another, to let others know we are infected with sin. Only then can our brothers and sisters in Christ fellowship with us in our sorrow, pray for us, and speed our healing. And finally, when all that remains of our sin is a scar, we can be an example to the world of the power of prayer and the restoration and redemption of Christ.
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16, NASB
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