When God vomits
[[If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read ahead. If not (or if you have kids) read on]]
I was reading the late John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, while my daughter, Abby, slept in an ergo strapped snuggly to my chest. Suddenly she let out a few grunts and her body began twisting inside the carrier. I set down my book and saw that she woke herself up vomiting. A lot. It was the first time I saw Abby throw up, and it was disturbing at the time—perhaps more seasoned parents understand (this was months ago, and now I’m used to it!). So I jumped off the couch and called for Brianna while straining at the Ergo straps around Abby, who, by this point could not stop regurgitating rivers of granulated sludge from her nose and mouth. She struggled to breathe. There are few times I’ve felt this helpless before—staring down at my sweet little girl, not knowing what’s wrong, while she stares back at me with a look of perplexity, hoping I will rescue her as her body attempts violently to eject some foreign ingredients from inside. All I could do was hold her like the Koala she is, stroke her hair, wipe her dainty little lips. Then everything slowed down; she returned to her bouncy, infectious self. But I was shaken up. I don’t want to see my daughter like that; the look of her wide eyes and puppy-dog pout still burned into my memory.
We put her to sleep, exhausted as she was; and I picked up my book, starting from where I left off: John Stott was explaining five common metaphors in the Bible for God’s hatred of evil, the last of which is…vomiting. Stott’s explanation of the biblical metaphor comes close to home:
Regurgitation is a common Biblical metaphor indicating “that the holy God’s rejection of evil is as decisive as the human body’s rejection of poison by vomiting. Vomiting is probably the body’s most violent of all reactions” (Stott, The Cross of Christ, 109). In Revelation, Jesus says to a local church that because of lukewarmness “I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16, HCSB).
After reading that paragraph, I put the book back down. With my shirt still soiled from several hours ago, I felt compelled to repent of any sin in my life that might cause the Lord to “vomit.” Not just the obvious evils that we like to condemn from our blogs, but the secret evils within: pride, anger, anxiety—all the “respectable sins,” as Jerry Bridges refers to them. I am sometimes (often?) guilty of treating grace as a gift card for my sins, forgetting that although I am forgiven, sin still grieves God as His “eyes are too pure to look on evil,” and the wrath that I deserved did not disappear—it was merely transferred to the Son of God who became my sin to bear my punishment.
In that instant, the gospel became all the more alluring to me: God does not just command me to be free from sin; He removes the rebellion from within. After seeing in my daughter’s face a vivid illustration of God’s grief over my sin, and knowing that this same God went to such lengths to rescue me, I will more often have this prayer on my lips:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).