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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

When your right hand causes you to sin

I don’t expect the certainty I once did about hearing God’s voice. When I was in the infancy of faith - a teenager - God was so gracious to me. I could palpably sense His nearness, and I needed that reassurance. Having converted to Christ after a week of summer camp with my youth group, I came home to the process of slowly losing the friendships that had once meant so much. I was a new me - and awkward in that newness. For as welcomed as I felt into the arms of God, I felt equally as alienated from the people who hadn’t shared my experience and couldn’t understand it. But God was good, near, and His voice as close to audible without actually having the quality of sound. Reading my Bible in that early season of faith was nothing rote or routine: it was the actual experience of communion, of friendship. For years, I filled pages of journals. Prayers. Thoughts. Conversations. And I’m grateful for this early start with Christ, which had all the empirical qualities of being real.

I could feel God.

I might wish that it had continued, the electricity of that newness. But like every love relationship, my walk with Jesus has matured and deepened, settling into the steady rhythm of a pulse. A heartbeat. Unconsciously, it beats.

Faith. Faith. Faith.

There is a reassurance about this, too, but I find it requires more attentiveness. The sky doesn’t always light up with the certainties it once did. And God whispers more than before. It’s necessary now to pay more attention. And sometimes, in the whirl of the day and the distraction of the contemporary mood, I fear I could miss it. Him.

(Although God can be persistent.) This, too, is grace.

Yesterday, I sat down in an unfamiliar church flanked by friends. And reaching for my bulletin, my eyes fell on the sermon title: “When to Cut Off Your Hand.”

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

This has been a distant refrain of the last two weeks. A whisper. A hint. A gentle nudge in the direction of reflection. Of repentance.

I hear Him inviting me into these words.

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

These are words meant for me. But I haven’t yet lingered on them. I haven’t given myself sufficient pause. I haven’t - to be honest – had the courage to allow these words their voice.

I haven’t reconciled myself to the change they announce. (And isn’t transformation always what Scripture intends?)

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

I fear I lack the ruthlessness.