Hyssop – A Follow-Up

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

  • Genesis 2:25

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

  • Genesis 3:1-10

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

  • Matthew 5:27-30

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

  • Job 1:20-22

Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
    and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
    that they can carry in their hands.

  • Ecclesiastes 5:15

On 20 January, I posted What’s Up with Hyssop?  It was about a dream that I had where this person kept repeating the word “Hyssop.”  In looking up the word the next day after the dream, I learned that in almost all references to hyssop in the Bible, they refer to cleansing.  My question was to myself, “What needs cleansing?”

As a result of making that post, a WordPress friend, Salvageable, asked if there would be a follow-up?  Frankly, I was hoping not, but I was struggling with something at the time.  I just did not wish to open that can of worms.  It is like something that Beauty Beyond Bones wrote recently about how people who write blogs can easily make themselves vulnerable.  (The two links in this paragraph go to their home pages.)

Back on 24 December 2021, I had posted a fictional short story about the Deviled Yeggs mysteries.  As a conclusion to a solved case, there was a celebratory Christmas dinner that was over the top – a dinner, filmed for a cable television cooking channel.  Deviled Yeggs, a detective with the police department, is the son of an ex-convict, Thousand-Year-Old Yeggs, a lifelong criminal (a safe cracker), who surprisingly is now reformed, having accepted Jesus as his Savior.  But one of those missing was Poached Yeggs, who, according to his father, Scrambled Yeggs (brother of Deviled), was on his honeymoon on a deserted island in the Florida Everglades, and he and his bride were both “naked.”

Sure, there was the shock value for the sake of humor, but I was going to tie that into their return from the honeymoon, talking about “going native.”  After all, this entire series of stories, now with over sixty installments, if you add the Mashie Niblick spin-off stories, started with a story built from idioms.  “Going Native” was simply one more.  The point is that it was completely innocent.

A couple of weeks later on 17 January, the next installment of the Deviled Yeggs Mysteries came out, A New Home for Rotten Apples?  With the leader of organized crime gone, this story was to hint at the next head of the Rotten Apple Gang, but something unbelievable happened.

I started to have a sort of internal, silent “Tourette Syndrome” going on, having never had that problem before.  As I would think of how the next part of the story would unfold, I would hear a voice in my head saying, “Naked.”

There was no context.  It could be the “naked truth.”  A “naked cake” is a cake that, at least in part, has no icing.  The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris was a book by a zoologist that looked at humans like a zoologist would examine any other species.  The book came out when I was young and impressionable, but not allowed to read it.  It had the word “naked” in the title.  Of course, I was not allowed to read it.  It was banned from a school system in New York State and the case eventually went before the U. S. Supreme Court.  For another “naked” story, if you go to the Pittsburgh area, there is a famous, and infamous, local chain of sandwich restaurants that has a huge sandwich on the menu.  Everything is on the sandwich, including the French fries.  If you want the fries on the side, the person behind the counter will announce to everyone in the store that you want it “naked.”  You then get ridiculed by everyone, staff and customers, for not doing it as the natives do it – another illustration of “going native.”  My wife and I have never been to any of their restaurants.  We do not want our fries in the sandwich, and we do not wish to be ridiculed.  And as we get older, we do not eat that much.

But, even in looking at the first Scripture above, there is nothing wrong with “naked.”  That is, until you apply context.

When the thought first entered my mind, I simply wondered where the thought came from.  Then it became a thought that would return, again and again.  Just the word, no lust or impure thoughts.  Just an irritating word.

If I dwelled on the thought, then I would probably be in trouble, but I would never do anything that would harm my fidelity to my wife.  But I remembered how Jesus handled temptations, and I started finishing the sentence.  “Naked”.  Then I would add “came I into this world and naked I shall return.”  The quote was not exact to either the Job or Ecclesiastes verses.  Within my mind, battle lines were drawn.  One side would mention the word, and I would loosely quote Scripture, until I got tired of it.  I prayed that God would take care of Satan’s latest scheme, and God did, for a few days.

I then thought that I needed to stop writing the Deviled Yeggs stories.  Or at least, take a break and then reroute the next stories away from anything involving “naked.”  But then, I was reminded of where my issues all started.

My mother thought that “naked, nude, and sex” were words that were sinful.  They were never to be spoken in her presence.  I even had a medical issue during a vacation trip.  With doing nothing, I suddenly had groin swelling and pain.  My mother ignored my pleas.  I had been sinful, although I had done nothing and only 12 or 13 years of age.  The swelling and pain disappeared in a few days, but with things not as they had been before, and it is probably a miracle that my wife and I had two boys.  The point was that anything in that area was “sin.”  Years later, I was about to be married and my Dad drove from Mississippi to Texas to deliver furniture and to tell me to have a healthy sexual relationship with my wife – my “birds and bees talk” but that was all he could offer.  It seems that not talking about sex went on for generations.  And the next generation learned little about the right way to do things.

So, I had no idea how to date a girl properly or go through the courting process.  That was all sinful.  My wife loved me, at first partly because I was so clumsy about the whole courting process. It seemed she liked clumsy smart guys.

Adam and Eve were learning as they went along also.  Less than ten verses in the Bible after being naked and not ashamed, they ate a piece of fruit and became ashamed due to their nakedness.  The shame comes from our sin nature, which adds context to the nakedness, and not in a good way.

I had gotten married hoping that I would figure all this courtship stuff out after the fact, but I never did.  My wife and I have a wonderful bond of mutual respect, but it may not have been so wonderful all the time.  After realizing that my own mind was causing me trouble, I now knew that I had some major growing in faith on my hands.  My hyssop, for my cleansing.

The start of that cleansing was that I had to write the Deviled Yeggs stories that appeared over the past two weeks, ending with the previous post that came out this morning.  The four are, in order: 1) When it gets too easy, it becomes difficult. 2) Easy, then difficult, then strangely solved. 3) The honeymoon is over. 4) A detective detects unanswered questions.  I felt God was not going to allow me to hide a problem in the corner and ignore it, as several well-meaning Christian friends had told me before I got married.  Maybe for nearly fifty years I might ignore it, but no longer.  As the fictional story went from my fingers on the keyboard to what became those four stories, really one continued story, what I had envisioned in the 17 January post became such a polar opposite story.  It became a story of redemption and salvation, of not just wanting things a different way, but acting upon that desire, a desire to help others overcome a subject that we “should not ever mention” or if we do, we make a joke about it.  And as the stories end, there are still unanswered questions, a new beginning.  There will be more stories. In fact, another one is coming in two days, but the next one may not appear for a short while.  My mind has already moved to the next two stories. One requires a Spring setting and the other requires research. I have the stories pretty much put together, but one key element of each story is still a mystery to me. I am used to that.

My demons are gone or at least tiny demons that can easily be chased away, as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus and I let Him chase them away.

My point of this follow-up is that when you accept Jesus as your Savior, He may work miracles in your life and you may never be the same, but that does not mean that you will never have bad thoughts enter your head years later.  You need to know the Scriptures and know your Savior, for He will be your best friend forever.  And He can chase those demons away if they decide to come for a visit.  You will never have a stronger nor a more loving friend.  But he may wish for you to make an uncomfortable confession every now and then.

But then there is more. I wrote the above material about two weeks before it was scheduled, since it was to come out after the four fictional stories. I had a typical night for me last night, the day of writing this extra bit. I awoke in the middle of the night. My eyes were blurred, even for the large digits on my watch. It was 3:0?. In other words, a few minutes after three in the morning. My neck was in horrible pain, a bad crick. I sat up in bed. I rubbed my neck with a pain relief balm, one of those cooling and heating things, or is it heating and cooling? As I rubbed the solid against my neck and allowed it to melt into the skin, God placed a thought into my head, all those verses about Israel being a “stiff necked people.” I was literally a stiff-necked person at that moment. I took some ibuprofen. As I pondered those verses, I fell back to sleep. When I awoke again, I was trying to focus my memory on the watch. When I had awoken in the night, it must have been between 3:03 and 3:08. As I had blinked in the night, I could not tell if it was a “3” or an “8”. Because when I awoke again, my mind was focused on John 3:3-8.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

What had I missed when I first accepted Jesus into my heart? My mother had taught me that kissing and hugging were sinful and don’t mention anything “worse” than that because it was not acceptable in polite society. I had a skewed concept of a healthy sexual relationship. But worse, let’s drop the word “sexual.” I had a skewed concept of “relationship.” “Naked” only has one thing to do about this entire affair. We come “naked” from our mother’s womb as Job stated, and we must be “naked,” meaning washed clean, innocent, bare of all previous concepts, when we are born-again. That is all washed away, eventually, so that we can have a healthy relationship with our Savior. I had to let go of the last vestige of the misguided teaching of my youth to gain a stronger, more meaningful relationship with my Savior.

The hyssop had done its work, but it took a while.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. We have to be so careful these days about who we might offend, yet we are expected to. In a way it’s kind of sad, because many of the things that offend some might be hysterical to someone else. I think we’ve gotten to up tight in this area. We’re almost afraid to laugh, because it might offend someone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too. We talked about that in my Sunday school class one Sunday when folks did not want to leave when the class was over. I told some old college rivalry jokes that had them in stitches, but I used southern schools as to not offend – since no one went to school there. But I did so to explain how someone from Texas A&M published ten or more volumes of Texas A&M jokes – making A&M the punchline, the stupid school, etc. He did not get offended. He made money from it. It is all how you choose to see it.

      Liked by 1 person

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