Chaplain (Maj.) Kelly Porter
Family Life Chaplain, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii
Have you ever bought something and regretted that decision?
The Nissan Xterra I bought in southern Georgia is just such a case.
Little did I know the vehicle had been driven in Michigan winters for three years. With a new catalytic converter, exhaust pipes, muffler and fuel tank, it is now a great truck, but what a disaster in the beginning.
Another purchase went far better. I “bought” a functional endoscopic sinus surgery from the ear, nose and throat clinic at Tripler Army Medical Center. What a great decision.
After years of sleepless nights and persistent pain, I can now breathe and relax. Food, roses and clean air smell great. After recovering one-fifth of my senses, I now experience life to the fullest.
Other senses provide similar fulfillment in life. Physical touch sends information to the potter’s brain to grasp whether clay is dry and hard or moldable. Hearing allows the musician to produce beautiful scores, but also provides us all with physical balance.
Sight guides, stimulates and entertains. And when I was previously stationed in Italy, I discovered how incredible fresh food tasted in comparison to the preservative-laden, fat-filled conglomerations found in the United States.
What happens, though, when any of these becomes impaired? How do you adjust when your sensory abilities are skewed? When life becomes difficult and even dangerous?
Burn patients must adapt to a new way of life in which their physical sensations are reduced. They are endangered by not being able to identify items quickly, as physical touch signals whether a surface is smooth and safe or prickly and dangerous.
Fortunately, burn patients, as well as the blind, the deaf and others, are aware of their limitations and receive sensory information in other ways, so they are not misguided.
Unfortunately, however, it is possible to appear fully capable but really be limited in ways we are not aware.
The Bible says sin impairs us, so we do not have life fully. In fact, we are spiritually dead, though the most important issues in life are spiritual, according to Romans 5:12 and John 10:10.
Hearing is one such example. Hearing ought to allow in good messages and filter out bad ones. Just as the tongue tells you not to swallow poison, so too does hearing provide discernment about unhealthy words.
If you’ve heard for years how worthless you are, you might start believing it. If magazines, TV shows and your buddies say you ought to leave your wife for someone prettier, then you might do something disastrous. If people tell you God doesn’t care about you because he is not real, you might go through life without hope.
You have two God-given ears to reject such dangerous words, but ears don’t automatically do this. You must train your ears to value what is real and lasting over what is false and temporary.
Train your ears first by hearing God’s words. You do this by reading the Bible and through prayer. He advises us how best to treat others and make decisions.
Second, pay attention to wise people. Watch them to know whether their advice can be trusted. If they are fools, then let their words pass your ears without accepting them.
Third, think rightly about your decisions. Do you really want to trade in your reputation for a short-term gain?
Food inspectors stamp different grades on what you put in your mouth. Shouldn’t you do the same with what you put in your ears?
Don’t buy every word, only those that pass God’s “Grade A” standards.