When I was a kid, I was always into something. Most of the time I wound up getting hurt, but that never stopped me. I don't know how many nails I stepped on because I refused to wear shoes (still hate wearing shoes), I've broken both arms (one twice), crashed numerous times on my bike just to have to dig gravel out of my hand or knee, crashed my minibike, fallen out of trees, gotten hung on fences, and the list just goes on and on. I never learned the fact that if I just didn't do the things I did, more than likely I wouldn't get hurt. Call it stubborness, like I mentioned the other day, or curiousity, or just being a boy. I just didn't learn.
Of all of those, though, the one thing that happened more than any of them, and one that I didn't mention before, was having to dig splinters out. I hated that. I was always having to dig splinters out of somewhere. It's like I was a magnet for splinters. In my palms, in my feet, under my fingernails, it didn't matter. And when I started building houses for a living it got even worse. I kept bandaids in my wallet just for splinters. If I got one, I'd stop what I was doing, take out my trusty utility knife (which was always clean), and dig until I got it out. Dang it hurt. Then I'd clean it up, dab on a little antibiotic cream, cover it up, and go back to work. Infection was the last thing I needed.
There is one sure fired way to prevent splinters...stay away from wood. It only makes sense. If you stay away from wood, you don't have to worry about splinters. The only problem with that is...I love wood. I love the way it smells. I love the way it feels. I love taking a stack of 2x4's and turning it into a house. I love being around wood...so, splinters will always be an issue.
Over the last few days, I've posted a quote by Dan Berrigan a couple times. This quote has become my new mantra: "If you want to follow Jesus, you had better look good on wood." The other night, I was chatting with one of my professors, the one who told me about these words of Berrigan's, and he said, "Watch out for the splinters." I knew immediately what he was talking about. I could stay away from the splinters, but I'd have to stay away from the wood, and I just can't do that. What I've learned the last couple weeks is that if you really intend to follow HIM, there are going to be some splinters.
I finished reading Jeremiah this morning, finally. All 51 chapters of it. They called him "the weeping prophet," did you know that? Did you know that he stood up against kings and the leaders in the church, over and over again, because what they were doing was wrong? Did you know that the priest asked for his execution? The priest! Did you know that the king let his men drop Jeremiah into a cistern so that he would starve to death, and his blood would not be on their hands? Great bunch of folks. Did you know that God was so put out with the way people were behaving that he told Jeremiah to quit praying for them? Yeah, when you tick God off to the point that God doesn't want to hear prayers on your behalf, it's gotta be bad.
Jeremiah spent his entire adult life pulling splinters. Now, of course, he wasn't a follower of Jesus because Jesus wouldn't be born for nearly 600 years, but he was very serious about the call God had placed on his life. If listening to God meant a lifetime of pulling splinters, that was ok with him. And it's ok with me.
So, I'll keep a stash of bandaids and a sharp knife or pair of tweezers. I'll keep doing what I've got to do, and deal with whatever happens because of it, until God tells me to stop. I'll stand up against injustice, for the outsider, for the hungry, and for the unloved. I'll keep reminding myself that splinters only hurt for a few minutes. And when it's all over, (which may be sooner than later if I stand up to the wrong folks), I'll be able to say that I wasn't afraid.