Nail Biting Suspension

In God we trust. Even a counterfeit knows that. But do we, do I, trust Jesus?

You can easily trust God because it’s more general. “Hey you can trust Me, I made the universe. Speed bumps were your idea.” But trusting Jesus acknowledges not only the need to be forgiven and redeemed, but allows that the price He paid in blood is exact, irrevocable and personal. And that sometimes makes us nervous.

If you’re anything like me, being nervous can lead to tics: nail biting, eyebrow pulling, all sorts of compulsive behaviors that top anybody’s list of spiritual maturity indicators. I thought I was being funny – another character revelation – when I asked the men I minister to in jail if a person could bite their nails and still accept Jesus as their personal Savior.

A gentleman who had a gnawing habit equal to mine said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. And since I got nothing to do up in here, I keep busy by keeping my nails trimmed, even if I got to use my mouth.”

“Busy isn’t sanctified,” came an answer from across the room. “If you’re still worried about how you’ll deal, or how you look, then your testimony is on you and not on Him.”

“It’s the edges that get me every time. I can’t stand the feel of my nails being haggard or snaggy, so I work ‘em smooth. If I could stop there, it wouldn’t be so bad.”

“Pilate tried to wash his hands of Jesus. It didn’t work for him and it won’t work for you neither.“

The debate had got some of us to the quick. Nagging, however intentioned, never got any of us biters to stop. We were desperate for gentle correction. The chief offender rose to the front of the room and held his hand out, palms down.

“When Jesus came out of the tomb, His hands were smooth except for the marks of the nails. He was healed from scratches, scars and bleedings because he had to show us we are healed by his stripes. If he was still a bloody mess, we wouldn’t be impressed, even if he did come back from the dead.

But the mark of the nails show the cost of our sin. Redemption remains visible. From this day on, when I am tempted to bite myself, I will instead see my hand in Jesus’ hand and kiss my fingertips in gratitude for what He’s done for me.”

Photo Courtesy of ardelfin

It’s been over a year since that inmate made that pledge, and he hasn’t gone back on it once. Been a little over ten days since I bit mine.

Will Schmit

Will Schmit is a volunteer outreach prison minister for Lifehouse Church in McKinleyville Ca. He is the author of Head Lines A Sixty Day Guide to Personal Psalmistry and Jesus Inside A Prison Minister's Memoir and Training Manual both available at Amazon Books and The website also includes poetry, ministry updates, and music downloads from Bring To Glory a CD of spoken word with coffee house jazz.

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