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The Facts Of LifeAnd Other Lessons My Father Taught Me
By Lisa Whelchel
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2001 Lisa Whelchel
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCircumcision of a Shiksa
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For any boys and goys reading this who don't recognize the term shiksa, it's a Yiddish word for a non-Jewish girl. And the word goys is not a typo, and it doesn't mean a cross-dresser; it's a term for anyone who isn't Jewish.
Thank you, class. That will be all. (See? I knew the Lord could redeem my disobedience in dating that young, non-Christian, Jewish man. I'll talk more about that later.)
I think we're all clear on what the word circumcision means. For purposes of clarification, may I tactfully define it as the cutting away of the excess flesh (foreskin) from the male genitalia. In the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel, "The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts ... so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live" (Deuteronomy 30:6, NIV). The New Testament describes it this way: "When you came to Christ, you were 'circumcised,' but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure-the cutting away of your sinful nature" (Colossians 2:11). Just as pruning back the branches of a plant produces fruit, circumcising the heart gives birth to new life.
You are probably wondering where I'm headingwith all of this. Let me tell you about my time under the knife.
Over the years, in addition to picking up a couple of pounds, I had added a little excess flesh around my heart. Nothing too serious-just a little feeding of the carnal nature here, a little indulging in an unhealthy snack there. Nothing to lose my salvation over, but my heart wasn't totally clean-or lean in this case.
The first flab to go was some of the novels I'd been reading. I've already mentioned my voracious appetite for books. Well, I could wolf down a Sidney Sheldon mystery or a Judith Krantz saga in one sitting. Sure they were marbled with fat; that's what made them so juicy.
Then the Lord sharpened the steak knife; it was time to trim the fat. I want to make it clear that the Lord never takes a knife to my heart forcefully. He always waits until I realize that the excess flesh is blocking the flow of His Spirit. Then I willingly submit to the Surgeon's hand. Anyway, I felt my heavenly Father gently impress upon my heart the need to stop reading those kinds of books. I guess He could have suggested that I just skip over the more sizzling chapters, but the temptation might have been too great for a single woman not to take at least a tiny bite.
Now that I'm married, those books don't have the same danger or appeal. The things that excite a mother are not usually found in a typical bestseller. I really wish someone would write a steamy novel for married women. I imagine it would read something like this:
He laid down the remote and made his way into the kitchen where she was wearily rinsing the dinner plates. As he drew closer, she could feel his hot breath ... no, wait, that was just the steam from the dishwater. He approached her from behind, wrapped his arms around her waist, and held her prunelike hands in his. She felt the familiar sensation of moisture as he squeezed the dishrag and water ran down the front of her dress.
He leaned into her body and whispered the words she longed to hear: "Honey, I'll do the dishes for you."
She melted onto the linoleum floor and felt a strange tingle run up her spine. She had inadvertently landed on a Barbie doll.
He reached down, lifted her to her feet, and with a slow, rhythmic motion washed the last dirty dinner plate. She couldn't help herself; her hand reached down and grabbed the large, furry towel in the bottom drawer, and they dried the dishes together until they were mutually spent.
As the man turned to go, he spoke the words every woman aches to hear: "I'll put the kids to bed tonight." That evening something happened that she had only read about, although she had dreamed of experiencing it multiple times-the kids stayed in bed.
Now that's a romance novel for a married woman!
As the Lord continued to encourage me to cut back on my high-fat reading habits, He gave me the option of eliminating Hollywood entertainment/gossip magazines from my diet. I didn't get the impression that they were so bad for my heart, just that they were junk food. There was no need for me to develop such a taste for the world that it spoiled my appetite for the flavor of the things of the Spirit. Besides, you know how it is after you've munched on a bag of potato chips? You've got that greasy residue all over your tongue, and it feels as though your teeth are wearing little socks. That's how I always felt after devouring an entertainment magazine.
I shouldn't have been surprised when the Lord swiftly turned His attention to my choice of movies. This cut was a bit tougher to slice. After all, I argued, this is what I do for a living. I need to include the latest films as a part of my regimen to help me grow as an actress. I was selling, but the Lord wasn't buying.
In the case of movies, I underwent open-heart surgery. The first problem the Doctor detected was a clogged R-tery. It was almost completely blocked from a buildup of R-rated movies. In a similar vein, PG-13 movies had left a surprising amount of plaque deposits. An f-word here, a dash of skin there, a romanticized adultery thrown in for spice, a generous serving of violence-heart disease could have slowly snuffed out my life! Maybe that's why they call it the "silent killer." I'm grateful that the Lord caught it in time.
I can see a big difference in my life now that I'm making more thoughtful choices about what I allow into my heart.
One word of caution: It's important to remember that only the Lord can see into a person's heart. We must be extremely careful not to judge another's choices. What might be harmful for me might be perfectly safe for you. A person who has a history of heart disease in his or her family may have to cut back on fat intake much more dramatically than another person without that genetic makeup.
The same goes for alcohol. I have lots of friends who enjoy an occasional drink and don't have a problem with it. I know other people who realize that they can't handle even one drink. Personally, I have chosen not to drink. In the past I used to enjoy a glass of wine with my husband at a nice restaurant, but one morning, during my devotions, I asked the Lord to fill me to overflowing with His Spirit. I felt Him respond, There would be more room for My Spirit if you gave up drinking other spirits.
I had never thought about the fact that another name for alcohol is spirits. I didn't feel any condemnation from the Lord for imbibing occasionally. But when given the choice of having an occasional drink or making more room for the Holy Spirit, it was an easy thing to give up. So, with the exception of special occasions when I have a piece of my mom's triple-chocolate Kahlua cake, I'm a teetotaler.
You may be wondering, How do you know that it was the Lord talking to you and not your own imagination? That's a good question. For many years I desperately wanted to hear from the Lord, but I didn't know how to recognize His voice.
Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd when He says this: "After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't recognize his voice" (John 10:4-5).
For me, the key to knowing when God was talking to me was when I realized that I already knew His voice by heart because I was one of His flock. It was the stranger's voice I couldn't recognize.
This played out most dramatically in my early twenties when I began dating the young Jewish man I referred to earlier. He was my singing teacher, and I had a huge crush on him. When I first met him, he already had a girlfriend. During an afternoon singing lesson, I overheard him talking on the phone with her about a concert they were going to that night.
On my way home from my lesson, I called a guy friend of mine and talked him into going to that same concert with me so I could accidentally run into my teacher. My next move was to invite him to one of the tapings of The Facts of Life. My schemes must have worked because he eventually asked me out.
But I never intended to fall in love with him. I knew he wasn't a Christian. I was well aware that the Bible says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14, KJV), which for all intents and purposes can be translated, "Lisa, you know you can't marry your singing teacher, so you shouldn't even be dating him."
I justified going out with him by calling it "missionary dating." That way, as long as I brought him to church with me, there was a chance that he would get saved, and then it wouldn't be an issue.
I knew in my heart that it was wrong. The catch-22 was that as long as we were just having fun together, there was no reason to stay away from him. But by the time I fell in love with him, I couldn't stay away from him. He was a kind, funny, talented, good-hearted man who loved me very much and treated me like a princess. That's hard to walk away from. I tried to let go for two years and broke up with him a dozen times. But we always got back together. We were yoked.
We talked about getting married, but every time I imagined myself walking down the aisle, I knew that I would never make it to the hupa (Jewish wedding thing). Jesus was right: "They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't recognize his voice." I recognized that it wasn't the Lord who was whispering, "But you love each other. It's okay to get married. You can still be a Christian, and besides he loves God too." It was the voice of a stranger, so I ran.
But I left a big chunk of my heart behind. If only I had turned around the moment I realized that I wasn't following the Good Shepherd's voice anymore, it might not have been so terribly painful.
Whenever I wonder who is speaking-whether it's God, the devil, or me-I imagine myself following where the voice is telling me to go. If I feel at all uneasy about it, I stop and don't go any farther. If I feel a peace about it, I know that it's safe to follow because it's the familiar voice of my Shepherd.
Do you feel uneasy about any of the voices you are currently following? Stop, turn around, and run from the stranger's voice. It won't be easy, I know. But it will keep you from making a huge mistake.
Has the Good Shepherd spoken to you about circumcising the excess flesh from your heart? Then follow Him, whether the necessary cut is as superficial as trimming a little fat from your entertainment choices or as deep as severing an unhealthy relationship.
"The [stranger's] purpose is to steal and kill and destroy," Jesus says. "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness" (John 10:10). Life and death depend on whose voice you follow.
Excerpted from The Facts Of Life by Lisa Whelchel Copyright © 2001 by Lisa Whelchel
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.