So I play basketball a fairly regular amount, and while I try not to brag about too many things, I am pretty much a younger Steph Curry. If you’ve seen me play, you know the similarities are remarkable. He shoots ridiculous 3-pointers. I shoot ridiculous 3-pointers (whether or not mine go in is irrelevant). He wears a mouth guard when he plays. I wear a mouth guard when I sleep. His career free throw percentage is over 90. My career school test average is…well…I’ve made my point.
All that to say, I was playing basketball with some friends the other day, and we were playing on an outdoor court at a school not far from us. It was hands down the whitest game of street ball anyone has ever seen. I’m not even going to comment on the amount of New Balances that were on the court, but let’s just say Matt Bonner would have been proud. It’s a given that none of us were particularly good, but all of us were very competitive, so slowly the high school football player in everyone started coming out. Screens became blocks and fouls became, well, we didn’t really know how to call fouls. Now, for those who don’t know me, I am 5’8″ 150 pounds of pure finesse. I’m a shooter, and the only reason you would ever catch me inside the three point arch is during warmups, if even then.
However, despite my attempts to avoid the area near the basket, I eventually tried to make a lay-up (why I thought this was a good idea I do not know), and I quickly found myself on the concrete. Obviosly, I’m not about to be considered soft, so of course “You good bro?” was immediately answered with “Yeah dude I’m good. Check ball. Let’s play.” However, much to my chagrin, I couldn’t help but notice the blood starting to trickle off my elbow. Thankfully, one of the guys playing is pre-med, so after several tests he was able to make a quick and accurate diagnosis that I was suffering from what is known as a “common scrape.”
Anyway, that was over a week ago, and I am now sitting here comfortably with a decent sized scab on my forearm. What I am learning, and this is something I have noticed in the past as well, is that it can be remarkably difficult to not pick scabs. Maybe this is just a guy thing (heck, maybe this is just a me thing), but for some reason, nothing sounds better to me than peeling this protective layer of dried skin off of my body. The thing is, I know that’s the wrong thing to do. I know that my body is healing, and that this is my skin’s way of protecting itself, yet I can barely resist the urge to scratch it clean off. Gross, I know.
What’s interesting to me though is aren’t we also the same way with our sin? We know that God tells us not to do certain things because he wants to protect us, yet we often do the exact opposite of what he says. I know I’m not supposed to constantly compare myself to others and judge those around me (Matthew 7:1), yet I do it anyway. I know that gossiping and talking bad about people behind their backs is counterproductive to having fruitful relationships (Proverbs 11:12-13), yet I do it anyway. I know that cussing sets a bad example of Christ and is not good for my heart (Ephesians 4:29), yet I do it anyway. Why is that? God gave us rules and guidelines, not to curb our fun, but to protect us from the consequences that come with bad decisions. Why then, do I think it’s a good idea to actively fight against that which is meant for my own good?
I don’t suppose to have an answer to this question, but I also know that I am not the first one to face this struggle. In Romans, Paul writes:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” – Romans 7:15
I read that verse, and I instantly want to raise my hand and say, “Paul! Hey, Paul! Yes! Yes, me. That’s me. What you’re describing right there, that’s me. When I sin, when I fall short, when I actively choose not to follow how God has told me to live. Yes, that’s me.” I can relate to that verse every. single. day. This battle between wanting to follow God’s will and knowing that’s what I want to do, yet choosing to do the opposite is incredibly frustrating. Paul knows this, I know this, and I’m assuming if you’re still reading, then you know this too.
Let’s extend the metaphor. The other thing about scabs is that when you pick them, you know they’re going to bleed. No matter how careful and meticulous you are, when the scab comes off blood follows.There are consequences to picking scabs, much like there are consequences to disobeying God. When you pick a scab, you bleed. When you disobey God, you get hurt.
But let’s take it one step further. Have you ever picked the same scab more than once? As in, you pick the scab off, it bleeds, another scab grows, then you pick that one off too. I have, and you know what happened? It left a scar. Most of you already see where this is going, but the point is that when you repeatedly remove the very thing that is trying to protect your skin, you will leave permanent damage. In the same way, when you repeatedly ignore God’s protective advice, there will be permanent damage.
Selfishly, I’d like to conclude this post with an answer. I want to be able to say, “So here’s how you get past this struggle: Step 1 Wear lots of Band-aids…Step 2…” but I don’t have the answer, let alone step-by-step instructions. All I know is that it’s a daily fight. You can accept the advice and protection of God and learn to accept what he says and allow Him to heal you, or you can do what you want and bleed until you scar. Sitting here now, the right choice is obvious, but this is a decision that you and I have to make every single day. Pray for me as I try to choose God.