Wednesday, November 15, 2006


There is something great about cleaning your ears out with a Q-tip. I don't know if the doctors would approve, but I enjoy a nice clean ear canal. And the Q-tip is the perfect combination of strength and softness.

A Q-tip is made up of essentially two parts: the stick and the cotton end. The stick-like handle part seems to be made out of the same material as a lolly-pop stick. But you wouldn't want to try to clean your ears out with a lolly-pop stick after having arrived at the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie pop. That would just be painful.

As for the cotton part, it is perfectly wrapped around the end of the stick in a firm but soft swab. Cotton is good, but by itself it doesn't work. Can you imagine trying to clean your ears out with a cotton ball? It just wouldn't happen.

No, it takes the perfect harmony of one part stick, two parts cotton to create the little modern miracle of the Q-tip. The stick or cotton parts left by themselves are not able to clean out that waxy build-up that we all dread. It is the soft but firm combination which allows for maximum cleaning without any pain. The Q-tip works wonders at opening up your ears.

And so does the gospel. Much like the Q-tip it is soft yet firm. The message of the gospel is a firm reminder of our sin with the soft love of gentle grace. If only our sinfulness is preached, it's like trying to dig out waxy ears with stick. If we cheapen the grace of God, then a cottony mass clogs our hearing. With cotton balls shoved in our heads we can't hear the truth about who we have been and from what we have been saved.

No, we need that perfect harmony of firmness and softness. We need to be reminded about both the reality of sin and the power of grace. This combination is the gospel. And this gospel not only opens our ears to hear but also our eyes to see.


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

this post is by far my favorite!

only you, mark, can take a q-tip and relate it to Christ. how about an ant trap? or tupperware?

and i also am a firm believer in a clean, wax free ear canal. interesting to note we share the same mild obsession! lol.


At 1:36 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Thanks Rebecca,
I chalk up my need for clean, wax free ear canals to OCD. That, and the fact that I had a friend in the 7th grade who never cleaned his ears and unfortunately had wax oozing out of them. I still have mental pictures of his ears that haunt me at night.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Kylah Jean said...

coming from a soon to be audiologist (soon meaning like 3 years).. i cringe at this entry. In my world q-tip=EVIL, although it's definently a safer alternative to a paperclip (yes many do chose such objects to clear the cerumen out of their external auditory meatus).. beautiful entry though

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Huh? Ehh? Kylah could you speak up. I didn't catch that last part. My hearing isn't what it used to be.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger brendar said...

I keep thinking about those kids at soccer practice with the reddish orange crust sticking out of their ears. I think to myself, "Don't your parents have Q-tips?" Similarly there are adults who cringe at the thought of applying the Gospel to their lives. Perhaps there is more analogy here than I thought. If I tried to clean someone's ear with an ice pick, after a while they would start to avoid me. Cotton on a stick would make more friends.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Jenn said...

Mark, I think you were one in our family thinks like this!...Great post!

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Jeff Mount said...

It's good to be reminded that there's more at work than a simple cognitive understanding of info when we hear the Gospel. One person who is following Christ will hear what God is saying, another will not, even though they are hearing the same words.

Sort of takes the pressure off of us to yell loud enough as Christians to make sure we're heard.


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