Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Speck in the Eye

The Fair Tish’s three favorite hobbies are knitting, web-design, and concocting random projects to be performed by me in whole or in part during the first twenty minutes of super-exciting football games. Invariably, either a turnover will be committed by the team I’m rooting against, or a touchdown will be scored by the team I’m rooting for during this span. This causes me to become irritated at the whole idea of doing the project, forces me to complete the project in a haphazard way, and then further frustration is evoked because my team generally does poorly as soon as I start watching.

The preeminent example of this phenomenon was during the Bears/Colts Superbowl. I was cheering for the Bears because their coach, Lovie Smith, is from a nearby East Texas town, where he coached high school football. As I was immersed in the project, Devin Hester returned a kickoff for a touchdown—the only time that’s happened in Super Bowl history. I promptly began doing crummy work to complete the project, only to watch the Bears get obliterated.

Last Monday night, the Cowboys were playing the vaunted Eagles. As providence would have it, I was amidst another light-fixture project. Of course, Dallas was making great plays as Tish and I tried to put the finishing touches on our work. We were just about through when I looked up to assess how much we lacked. At that moment, a little fleck of something dropped in my eye.

Blink. Blink. Blink. Rub. Rub. Rub. Rinse. Rinse. Rinse. No change. The more I blinked, the more I rinsed, the more I rubbed, the more intense the scratching of the foreign body became on my eye. Ever the procrastinator, I decided that it would work itself out, and that I would awake in the morning with a cured eye.

Tuesday came with frustration and ended with me losing my nerve. Alarm sounds at 5:45. One blink. Two blinks. No pain. Three blinks—a bit of a scratch. Four blinks—like sandpaper on the cornea. I alighted from the bed, went to the bathroom and commenced to running a river of water through my eye. I got in the shower, and lined up my eye right in front of one of the streams.

The prior night I’d considered praying about the ordeal, but thought it a bit silly. It’s just a speck, after all. My prior assessment of pettiness to such a prayer vanished like a morning mist, and I started praying throughout the morning.

I arrived at work, and every hour or so would rinse the eye, alternatively with water and saline solution. Nada, nothing, zilch. No change, whatsoever. I tried taking my mind off of it, as it were, by diving into work. But you’d be surprised how often you blink. Start counting how many times you blink as you read this post—it’s incredible. Now imagine that each time you blink your eye hurts. That was me all day last Tuesday.

Being a "man" I kept the speck a secret, not wanting anyone to worry or be concerned. Tish noticed the effects of the speck (i.e., my red, irritated eye) and asked what was the matter. I told her (this is now Tuesday evening) and we called an elder in my church, Dr. Timmons, who is an optometrist. He couldn’t see me until in the morning.

Wednesday morning I immediately went to Dr. Timmons. I’ve never had eye issues of any kind, so no doctor’s ever had to fiddle with my eyeball before. After about two minutes, he said, "Is that better?" The question brought encouragement, but my eye felt exactly the same. No change at all.

Fluid; rinse; fluid; rinse. No change. Dr. Timmons told me there was a fleck of translucent material in my eye, and that he’d gotten it out. However, my eye felt exactly the same. The same pain with every blink. So he sent me to an ophthalmologist, Dr. Wick. I was the only non-octogenarian at his office. The lady I was sitting next to commented, "You’re too young for cataracts." Good call.

Dr. Wick, upon a thorough examination, assured me there was nothing in my eye. The pain I was experiencing was due to a severe scratch on my cornea. It seems every time I blinked while the speck was in my eye, the speck sliced and diced its way across my eye. Good times. The good doctor prescribed some ointment, which is essentially Neosporan for the eye, and I was on my way to immediately fill the prescription.

It is now a week later, and I still feel the effects of that translucent speck, though my eye now only feels awkward and I’m no longer in pain.

The point of this story is that I found myself dwelling on Owens’ Mortification of Sin, and his application of Paul’s admonition to by the power of the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body so that we might live. I went after that speck with tenacity. Ridding myself of that minor irritation was the focus of my life for two days. And even after I flicked the fleck, I suffered from its longer-lived effects, just as a particular sin will have a lingering effect on the Christian, even after repentance.


The Militant Pacifist said...

Your analogy is apropos.

Even more, what makes the "lingering effect" of past sins so abhorrent is the nausea that comes when I ponder the fact that no speck or splinter merely floated down into my eye, but rather a personal hand (my own) rammed the splinter there with purpose.

May such scars serve as a sickening reminder of the folly of sin.

Hal Brunson said...

On the Art of Writing (and living)

The Romantic Poets mastered the technique of making the mundane transcendent; metaphors, similes, parables, and analogies accomplish this as well; congratulations on a splendid essay that borrows and employs that technique to ediying, spiritual purpose.

Shane said...

Thanks to you both.

MP, an attorney at my firm said in the middle of a strategy (stategery?) conversation the other day, "Don't wield the axe that cuts off your own legs." (He assures me he coined that phrase, but it seems too good of a quip not to have been around awhile.)

Anyway, such is the case with sin, isn't it? We shove the splinter in ourselves with vim and vigor.

Life seems, at times, to be a constant struggle to not act against self-interest. To paraphrase Piper, God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him---and we simply can't call ourselves satisfied with God if we shun Him to go worship on the high places of sin.