Splinters.

My wife slipped and fell while trail-running a few weeks ago. When she fell forward, she threw her hands out in front to brace her fall. She got up and brushed herself off, and then discovered that she had picked up five tiny splinters in her palm. They were so small that she couldn’t even move them with her fingernails. They had embedded themselves below the top layer of skin, and her palm became more and more irritated as the day went on.

Later, when she said her hand was hurting, I offered to remove the splinters. She reluctantly agreed and offered me her hand. It took me about 5 minutes, but using a needle and some fingernail clippers I was able to dig the little jerks out. There were moments when my beloved wife stifled a yelp, and danced back and forth on her feet from the pain. At one point, I knew my attempts to help were hurting her and I nearly stopped. But she never pulled her hand away. She trusted me enough to finish the job, so I followed through until they were out.

Five little splinters, each barely bigger than a grain of salt, were causing irritation and pain that wouldn’t go away–pain that she needed to rely on me to remove.

I suffered a bit of a “fall” recently, myself–not a physical one, but a professional and emotional one. The details aren’t important right now, but the result was that my pride and my feelings were wounded. I wasn’t paying attention to the path I was on, I slipped, and I fell.

When I got up and brushed myself off, I didn’t realize it in the moment but I picked up some splinters of my own. The seeds of resentment and anger buried themselves under my skin. I kept imagining angry conversations, burned bridges, and broken relationships.

My prudent wife saw what was starting to set in, and gently challenged me on it. (What a priceless and precious thing is a spouse who loves you enough to point out your sin.) She told me that anger and bitterness were not godly, and I needed to repent, forgive, and move on.

So I did what I knew I had to: I held out my hands to Jesus, the Great Physician, the Gentle Healer. And He dug into my hands and started pulling out my splinters. He poked and prodded and cut, and they started pulling out one by one. As He worked, I cried, I repented. I prayed, “Forgive me for my sins. Forgive me for blaming others for my mistakes. Help me to love. Help me to forgive. Help me to show grace. Help me to take responsibility for my actions. Help me to trust You.”

My palms are still raw. I still have thoughts that must be taken captive and repented over. But I’m healing. And what’s better, I’m changing. Bit by bit, day by day, my steps are becoming more secure, as I carefully watch how I walk. My prayer is that I will stay on the good path by the grace of God, and come away stronger and more sanctified because of this experience.

Beware of soul splinters, friends–the little daggers of anger or bitterness that slip under your skin in times of crisis. And when you discover them in your life, remember that there’s only one good way to remove them. Hold out your hands, and trust Jesus to heal you, even if that healing hurts.

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