Got A Sticker?
JAMES ROBISON — When Princess is busy doing her sniffing and exploring, frequently she steps on a sand bur, or as we say here in Texas, “a sticker.” It is the saddest thing to see a little dog, who barely has legs anyway, pull one of them up so her belly drags the ground. It’s pitiful!
With the kindest, most inviting voice possible I call out tenderly to Princess, “Got a sticker? Papaw will help you.” (Since all 11 of our grandchildren call us Mimi and Papaw, I assume Princess must think these are our names.) In the most humble fashion, she limps over to me for help. I always remove the stickers, but sometimes they break off and leave a tiny thorn in the pad of her paw. Princess will continue to hobble around until I say, “Let Papaw look.”
She gets up in my lap, lies on her back, and puts her paws up in the air. I’ll turn on a light, put on my glasses and sometimes use a magnifying glass. Gripping a pair of tweezers, I will tell her, “Papaw will get it, but it may hurt when I pull it out.” When I pull it out, she licks her paw for a minute, then she’s happy again. She races around in circles, expressing joy and relief.
I was reflecting on this process when I realized some profound truths. When I can tell that she’s in pain, I lovingly invite her into my lap to take care of it. With people, too, it takes a compassionate invitation to gain their trust in order to help them. I don’t think Princess would ever come to me if I shouted, “Stupid dog. Get out of the yard. Quit sniffing around. You’re going to get what you deserve. I told you not to go there!”
That would not make her want to get in my lap. In fact, she would probably run from me! But this is what many children hear from their mom and dad, “Shame on you, stupid child!” This is also what we too often hear within the family of Christ. Believers can be harsh, judgmental and unforgiving: “I can’t believe you did that! You will reap what you’ve sown!”
Who would want to respond to that kind of comment?
Jesus didn’t call us dogs, but he did say that we were like sheep and sheep are not the smartest of animals. We are sheep with stickers. Yet Jesus says to us, “Got a sticker? Got an issue? I’ll get it out. I’ll pour oil on the wound. Let me help.”
Paul wrote that “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” (Romans 2:4) Would someone with a “sticker” come to you for help to get it out? What if that “sticker” is same-sex attraction, porn addiction, drug addiction or something equally devastating? Would you be a safe person from whom to seek help? Would you welcome them into your arms and work with them to get rid of the pain, as well as the source of the pain?
We are all like sheep in that we have strayed from the shepherd’s care. There is no righteous person, not even among believers. There is only one who is perfect, and that’s God, so the only goodness in us is godliness, and our only righteousness is Christ in us. God forbid we boast except in the cross.
There is power in confession — not in cover-up — but in finding covering and cleansing. We need each other to find healing. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). This literally means being made whole. Keep in mind, we don’t confess our sins, “or stickers,” to feel better — but to be free from the pain source and to be made whole.
Jesus died to redeem us and set us free. We should never feel shame over a battle. I believe we are not freed from enduring battles but are free to fight battles and win. Most everyone has some kind of sticker. It may be huge. Maybe you don’t want anybody to know. God wants to remove it, even though it may hurt for a short time. Repent while it is still a secret and let the Lord begin the healing process. Then turn to those around you and invite them into arms of compassion to remove their stickers so that they can find healing, too.
— Taken from the book: God of All Creation: Life Lessons from Pets and Wildlife by James Robison