Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. . . . “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth about your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
” ‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ ” (Acts 28:24-27)
YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID. (Sign in Emergency Room staff office)
I had plenty of time to ponder this sign while my beloved was being poked, prodded and otherwise attended in the cramped ER cubicle. It was impossible not to hear the lady on the other side of the curtain. A diabetic, she had an infection on her foot so advanced that she was moaning and crying with the pain. “Please, someone help me,” she pleaded softly over and over.
“Why did you let it go for so long?” the doctor asked her. “Because I was sick to my stomach,” she told him. On learning that she was being admitted, the lady told her nurse this would be the eighth time in ten years she’d been admitted with the same issue. “It took a week last time,” she said.
Knowing you need prompt treatment but not going to the hospital because you’re sick probably makes those in the healing professions wish they could give some of their patients a large dose of common sense. But even if such a remedy were available, evidence suggests it would quickly wear off. As someone has said, “Common sense isn’t.”
This poor lady’s situation made me think about how God, who wants to heal us of all our sin and its repercussions, must feel when we repeatedly make choices that are not only unwise, but extremely painful and dangerous to our well-being. The Old testament is replete with examples of how God’s people endlessly cycled through following God and then deciding to go their own way — until they were in dire straits, that is. Then they begged for His help. Having received it, they went on to ignore Him again. With some exceptions, they never seemed to learn from past experiences — let alone the very explicit commands and warnings they were taught.
We have the same tendencies to hear but not heed, to see but not perceive. We too can develop callouses on the places where our hearts have been bruised or broken, deciding it’s not safe to open ourselves up to fully trusting God, afraid that He too might let us down.
We too can allow the noise of our daily lives to drown out the voice of God through Scripture and the inner working of His Holy Spirit, who quietly waits for us to respond to His stirring.
We too can become so weary in our doing and our striving that we cancel time devoted to God, closing our eyes to what He wants to show us.
When these tendencies become the norm, we eventually find ourselves with a worsening infection of the worldly bacteria that is in the air all around us. God longs to heal us, to give us His prescription for health and peace. Jesus said, “Come to me”; we decide whether or not we close the distance we’ve put between us. The greater the infection, the more urgent the decision to go where healing can be found. But it can’t stop with a one-off visit; this kind of healing requires daily interaction. Once back in His care, we need to stay there to avoid the cycle starting all over again. It’s a lesson that can be hard to learn.
You can’t fix stupid? I would submit that we’ve all been — or are being — unwise about various things at various times for various reasons. No one can point any fingers on this score. But there IS a way to “fix stupid,” and ideally, we don’t wait until it’s an emergency to do it.
First, we have to recognize it, either immediately or in retrospect. Second, we realize that real wisdom comes from God and is available to all who genuinely seek it. Finally, we resolve to focus on growing in both our knowledge of, and our ongoing relationship with, God. We ask Him to open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to the fullness of the love of Jesus, who fills everything in every way.
It’s the smartest decision we’ll ever make.