How to be a better person? # 26

STOP PATCHING MY LIFE!

I had reconstructive surgery. The regular physician noticed some bleeding and covered it with a band-aid. When the surgeon returned, he removed the band-aid and was angry with the other doctor for having covered the wound. He wanted it open so that fresh air could speed up the healing. We moved to the Northwest. When winter approached, I closed the vents to stop cold air from going under our house. When my father came to visit, he had me remove my patching to keep our home from dry rotting. Patching wounds and vents was not the answer for my surgery or our home.

Regarding patching, Jesus told this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, “The old is better'”(Lk. 5:36-39). Matthew added that an un-shrunk patch would only enlarge the tear in the old garment and that there would be no wine to be enjoyed, because none would be saved (Mt. 9:16-17). Jesus used this parable in relationship to fasting. Fasting was a patch that became a tradition of the elders and it replaced the law regarding mercy and justice (Mt. 9:13; 15:6). Fasting became a substitute for doing what was right. The elders did more than patching. They also infused the law, like the wine, with new regulations. One could forego honoring his parents by making an offering to the priests (Mt. 15:3-8). Prominent man, like David, could get away with adultery and murder. It was a legalism that patched and replaced God’s moral law. Moses, himself, was guilty of patching the marriage law and Jesus did not sanction divorce (Mt. 19:7). Jesus did not let the men that handed over a woman to be stoned to get off without shame (Jn. 8:3-11).

Patching or infusing morality with new legislation has yet to relieve the problems we create by our own desire to please our senses (Ja. 1:14). We think we can cover our tracks of wrong doing with excuses and lies or even questionable laws. It was not our intention to impregnate a woman, contract ADS, overdose in drugs, end up in a hospital or a jail and leave our loved ones at the mercy of others. I cannot believe that the founding fathers of this nation intended to protect our immorality and the lack of reasoning with “The Pursuit of Happiness!” I cannot keep on patching my life because it will fall apart at the seam. Just as I was reconstructed physically from a fire by a surgeon, so can I be recreated morally by the life and teaching of Jesus the Christ (II Cor. 5:17). It is not some instant overnight process. It took years of healing and adjusting to the new life I was carving out for myself. I had to shed the patches I had patched myself with. When I did by making amends for my patching, I felt free and delivered. I am reminded of a friend who was in her nineties with things on her mind that kept her from feeling free and unburdened. I had preached on Lazarus to untie him and let him go. She too literally, shed her patches and became a new being full of joy and freedom. We do not need to patch with more patches. Jesus still invites us, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (Jn. 6:35).

It is, after I stopped patching, that I began to age. Like wine, we must age to taste better. Being grand parents is a remarkable time for us. Grandchildren are the mirrors of our own aging, growing and maturing. When we were their ages, we did not see nor did we comprehend the merits of aging. There is a moral richness about aging. In the Orient, aging is necessary to gain wisdom and old people were respected for it. The Jewish lawmakers, at the time of Jesus, had already aborted the law to respect parents or grandparents (Mk. 7:9-13). Physically, we do miss out on our movements; but mentally, at least I do not wish to be younger. I see and understand things I did not even five years ago. Of course, I am blessed by being able to maneuver mentally into areas of thinking that were foreign to me when I was younger. Please do not assume that I am ruling out youth with mature minds. I do meet young people with very mature thinking, but I am not so certain that they are mature in patching their lives. It is when we are young that patching is handy and a fertile mind can justify it. It is when we have aged, that we are not so proud of talking about our youthful, not childish, pranks. What children come up with is funny; but not so for young adults, and especially for middle-aged people that play with fire. Fortunately, God has not set a date or a limit when we can shed our patching. However, just imagine what a blessing we could have been had we stopped patching when we were younger?

Aging cannot be replaced; neither can it be duplicated. If we force ourselves to be old, we destroy who we are and those whom we impact. We do live in a time when younger leaders think they can infuse us with their ideas and change us old folks. You are definitely patching what we have tried to shed all our life. We have been there and know first hand that your choice of patches will bust our wineskins and none of us will be able to enjoy the aged wine. Patching and infusing politically has been and continues to be a disaster. Religious morality was our only hope and that too is being patched and infused. The attempt to improve on Jesus and His teaching has distanced us from God and each other. What disturbs me the most is that when I was younger and in the ministry; I, too, split hair with my views and interpretations. My eagerness to understand and present the Biblical message had not grown, aged or matured enough to draw final conclusions. Instead of fixing, I was patching. It took some aging before I understood my Master’s words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt. 24:35).