When Life Gives You Lemons…

Hebrews 4:12

I have already elaborated on my love of The Jungle Book, but that was only part of a larger trend.  As a youngster, I loved all things jungle.  Tarzan was one of my favorites, and I was mesmerized to watch movies where the safari master was blazing the trail through the underbrush with his machete. Ah yes…the machete. That was the indispensable tool every self-respecting explorer must have. With that one instrument, the brave-at-heart could make a trail through impassable terrain. With that weapon, the protector of the weak could fend off lions, tigers, and bears…oh my. With that single piece of equipment safely sheaved in its leather home, attached to the belt, the dashing hero could win the beautiful damsel.

I recently spent a couple of weeks bunking at my mom’s house in between moves. One day as I was doing a bit of cooking, I opened a drawer, and there it was, the butcher knife. From my youngest memories, that knife has resided in my mother’s kitchen. I was instantly transported back to my childhood. I wasn’t allowed to play with that knife, so I did, as often as I could. It looks much smaller now than it did then. To a five year old, it was just the right size to become…a machete. Whenever mom was teaching at school and my dad was in his study at the church, I would sneak out my machete and go to the vacant wooded lot one house over from ours.  I blazed trails, fought wild beasts, and posed bravely with it tucked in my belt.

Another use for the machete was foraging for food. Many movie scenes feature the thirsty protagonist laying a coconut on a stump and, with one mighty blow the shell was  neatly cleft in two, and the milk provided its life-giving sustenance. Of course, mangoes and papayas were also consumed in such manner, just not as frequently as coconuts. Tropical fruit is a delicacy, therefore, we never had any. Occasionally, we had bananas, but certainly none of the other.  What we did have were lemons. To this day, my mother boldly asserts that she prefers sour things to sweet, so we usually had lemons.  One day, as I was leading a safari, I found myself thirsty. Opening the refrigerator, I spied the one remaining lemon, and I smiled.  Firmly grasping the lemon, I laid it on the counter top, but it rolled. No problem, I’ll just hold it still. Holding the lemon with my left hand, I raised the machete high into the air with my right. With one mighty blow, and a “kerchunk,” I buried the blade halfway into the lemon, and halfway into my thumb.

My folks bandaged it up, as best they could. There was no thought of stitches or tetanus shots, just pour alcohol on it and wrap it. Actually, I think I remember them using some  Merthiolate (or was it Mercurochrome?), I always got those two things confused.  Had I been any older than five years, or had I not been small for my age, I would probably be thumb-less today. At that age, I had no real comprehension of just how sharp the knife was nor how to use it properly.  I just wanted to be able to do something that would be impressive.

In the Bible, a sword is sometimes used as a metaphor representing God’s word. In too many cases, those with little understanding proudly spout snippets of it, wielding it like a machete. We have a thought or opinion, then we find a scripture verse that sounds similar and start hacking away.  With this approach, we either injure someone else or ourselves or both.  I’ve been guilty of this, and perhaps you have too.  God’s word is indeed very sharp, but for what purpose? First, to fend off our spiritual enemy (not flesh and blood – Eph. 6:12). Secondly, to help us discern our own heart’s thoughts, intents, and motives, so we can become aware of things that need to be changed.

Over 50 years later, I couldn’t help but snicker when my son-in-law, on the night before his wedding, stabbed himself in the leg with his own pocket-knife. In the emergency room, it seemed he was too enamored with the process of getting stitched up to be embarrassed.  I hadn’t yet had the chance to impart this bit of life-wisdom to him, but I’m glad he had no lasting ill effects. So when life gives you lemons, call the doctor.


Published in: on May 14, 2018 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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