Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Jesus plasters

I have a habit of chewing on my fingers when I'm nervous. It's not a good habit - nor a particularly attractive one - and I often don't notice I'm doing it until they start to bleed. Thankfully my housemate is very well equipped and provided me with a very colourful popart Jesus plaster.

Aren't they fabulous? Or are they a tacky commercialisation of faith? Does it matter? Well, perhaps that's another reflection for another time but my Jesus plaster certainly made me think. Most people who saw it immediately commented on the healing power it must contain.

After joking along with this for a while, I tried to think a little more seriously. For a start, it never once occurred to me to pray about my finger. It's just a little cut, right? Who needs prayer for that? It hurts a little but I figure it'll heal itself. I'm sure I have enough in myself to heal it. Platelets are perfectly effective on their own, I'm sure. I mean, I'm no doctor but it's worked in the past.

So I decided to give it a shot. I'm not one of life's great pray-ers. I like to be self-sufficient and that includes a reluctance to accept help from God. Of course, I know when to get support for the big things, we all do. When a family member is ill, I'm powerless so I am prepared to ask for help. Because even I know there are times I can't fix it! But ask for help for myself? Why would I do that? I'm fine.

The Jesus plaster sat on my finger as a constant reminder that sometimes I need a little extra support. And when I decided to pray about it, something changed. I was more relaxed; the pain even diminished a bit. So when I fell down the stairs and hurt my back, I first hobbled to work and forced myself to get through it. Then I had a break, and I was going over a prayer list. I noticed a name there that I hadn't written. In someone else's handwriting was my name. I remembered the Jesus plaster, remembered the last time I prayed for something I didn't consider worth praying about. So I did, and I got through the day intact.

The Jesus plasters aren't a miracle cure. And, let me be clear about this, prayer isn't some kind of instant fix-it either. But sometimes my Jesus plaster reminds me who it is I'm meant to be depending on for my help. If I were to look up from my own internal world for a minute, what would I see?

I lift up my eyes to the hills- Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip -
He who watches over you will not slumber.

from Psalm 121

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