When I saw my doctor’s name show up on my caller id last week, my heart started to race. I knew what she was going to say before I even answered the phone. “Ms. Keeth, your biopsy came back positive for squamous cell carcinoma, and it needs to be removed soon.”

This past Tuesday, my dermatologist performed the Moh’s procedure to remove the cancer. It was larger than I had expected, and because of the size, the doctor was unable to put stitches in to close the incision. So, I’m sporting the “bandaged look” on my right leg, protecting the open wound that will take months to heal.

As I’ve thought about the diagnosis and removal of this cancer, along with the healing process, it reminded me of the similarities between sin and cancer and what I can learn from this situation. Here are a few of my thoughts.

Be alert.

Know what to look for that would be a warning sign or symptom of sin. If I hadn’t been alert to something unusual on my leg, I would have missed it and let it go on for too long.

Be proactive.

Deal with sin as soon as you realize it’s there. As soon as I noticed the unusual spot on my leg, I made an appointment with the doctor. I didn’t want to wait till next month or next year. If I had waited, it would have spread and done more damage. Thankfully, we caught it early before it spread outside the original tissue. If we don’t deal with sin immediately, it grows deeper and spreads. The longer we let it go, the harder it is to remove, and the more damage it does.

Understand the urgency.

Once I received the call with the diagnosis, I was counting the days till she removed that skin cancer. I didn’t want it to “contaminate” my body one day longer than necessary. That’s how we should feel about sin. We should want it GONE! YESTERDAY! Don’t let it hang around. Don’t put it off, thinking, “It won’t hurt anything to let it be for a little longer.”

Expect scars.

I will have a significant scar from this wound that will remind me of what was done. Sin also leaves scars. Some are more prominent depending on how deep and long the sin was allowed to hang around and do its damage. But eventually, the scars will soften over time.

Protect yourself.

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen when we go outdoors, but, if you’re like me, I don’t always do it. If I had worn the proper protection in my younger years in the sun, I wouldn’t be dealing with my fourth skin cancer. In the same way, we need to protect ourselves from sin by putting on the armor of God each morning when we awake (Ephesians 6).

Don’t let your guard down.

The dermatologist tells me every time she removes a skin cancer that this won’t be the last one. Once you develop a skin cancer, you’re prone to more. I can’t let my guard down and think, “ok, I’ve dealt with it. I don’t need to be alert anymore.” Sin works the same way. Just because we’ve confessed and dealt with our sin doesn’t mean we’re not going to sin again. We’re prone to sin. So, we need to keep our guard up.

Who would have thought that God could use a skin cancer to teach me so much about sin?

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