The Teratoma Eyes

There it was, right in front of him looking up at him from the film - part of an eye. A single eye formation, located just behind the cortex of the brain. He had seen this type of tumor before, in research project pictures in med school and twice in practice. This was unquestionably a rare and terrible teratoma. Dr. Jamison Baxter, the highly acclaimed head of radiation oncology, had indeed seen this before. His assistant, Dr. John M. Winters, and he were two of the earliest American physicians who had used the newly developed gamma knife to intracranially excise this literal beast, the “monster-tumor”, (the literal meaning of the word in Greek).

Known as neither disease nor animal, this strange, living tumor is the weirdest and most grotesque phenomenon ever discovered. The normally benign tumor usually originates in the abdomen. It contains cells which have the potential to form into the tissues of any organ of the body like hair, teeth, hands, nails, vertebrae, diminutive skeletons, nerves, and even eyes. It may contain all the organ components of a baby, but the parts are always in complete disarray, never forming a normal child. It is not formed by conception, but by variant embryonal, germ cells. In very rare instances it may appear on the skull or even inside the brain. Brain teratomata are malignant and are called teratocarcinomas.

Jamie, although never squeamish, shuddered visibly as he looked at that lone, partial eye on the film. He thought he had put the memories of this monster behind him a long time ago, but the pain was now penetrating his soul as deeply as all 192 gamma knife beams.

The first surgery had gone flawlessly. It was this early use of a gamma knife on the west coast to remove a rare head teratocarcinoma that had brought them their recognition. The second time was different, for the patient was none other than the young John Michael Winters, son of his associate, barely seven weeks old. Normally the father of a patient would never be allowed to assist on a family member, but this was different. There was no one else with the new training. Without surgery, little Mike would surely die. Without John to assist, Jamie was reticent to do it.

Mike’s monster was also a head tumor. He was blind and deteriorating rapidly. The procedure appeared to be going well at first. The monster was almost destroyed, including a very tiny tentacle on the optical nerve. They proceeded with great hope that with this new, finely accurate machine, little Mike could make a complete recovery.  But suddenly something went askew. Mike apparently was reacting to the sedative he had been given.

“Oh, Dear Lord, what a time for an allergic reaction!”

 Jamie studied the machines a moment. The verse, something like, “if your eye offends you, it would be better that your whole eye were cast out, than for the whole body to die,” floated through his head. Then John, watching the rapidly falling vitals too, demanded that they stop immediately and treat the anaphylaxis. Jamie was, of course, the leading physician, and he had to make the call. There was so little left of the tumor. The fiber on the optic nerve appeared to have been destroyed except for a very miniscule fragment. Preliminary pathology reports strangely had declared the thing was completely benign. That was odd, but it certainly had been hopeful news. Yes, John was right. They would have to terminate immediately and treat the anaphylactic reaction.

Mike lived only 5 months. That last fiber had both re-generated into another rapidly growing monster, as well as manifesting its true malignant nature. The monster had become too entangled in the brain, affecting the vital organs. Mike was far too weak for conventional chemotherapy. Jamie could only watch as the life of this dark-eyed, wooly headed little lamb faded. There was nothing to do but watch Mike’s spirit evaporate from the wasted shell of a body. Oh, if they had only gotten that last small fiber! Jamie had known deep down inside that even one cell of that thing was a risk.

The Roving Eyes

 John’s wife and older sons they had adopted couldn’t deal with the tragic loss. John collapsed. He felt he had failed. He, Dr. John Michael Winters, a specially trained radiation oncologist, could not even save his own son with the latest technology. His wife could not give him the comfort he sought, so he buried himself in his work - or so it seemed. At work there was at least some measure of relief - a demanding, time-consuming schedule and more desirable things. His eyes began to wander. Jamie noticed. He also took notice that John would always click off his screen whenever Jamie entered his office. Confidentiality - yes, but as department head, Jamie already knew most of the cases. One day he caught a glimpse of the screen before John heard him enter. Jamie cautioned John about this new fascination, but he began spending more time with this new interest. And his preoccupation with the younger gals was slowing his work. After some time of watching, Jamie could stand it no longer. This seasoned professional was beginning to act like a pre-med student. Where had his sense of propriety gone? Jamie called him into his office. He told him frankly that this must stop. What about his practice? What about his reputation? What about his wife and family? Jamie had spoken his peace.

However, Jamie too shared the guilt and failure of Mike’s death. Somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered a poem from college days – a road with a “Y” – making a choice – taking the narrow road, the one least taken. It haunted him. He knew that narrow road was the right answer in the poem. He felt he had taken the “easy way” - terminating, instead of taking that very hard choice - the “narrow way”. As time passed his mind convinced him that Mike may have been able to breathe just long enough so they could have destroyed that last fiber. If he had only tried! If he had not followed the broad way, Mike may have still been alive, a happy little boy, playing with brothers, and with parents still living in wedded bliss. That was it. No more monsters. No more dealing with teratocarcinomas. No more head radiation oncology. No more gamma knife surgery except for the full-proof outcomes. He didn’t have to be a hero any more. He resigned his position. It was good enough just to be an experienced radiologist.


Four years later life changed again. Jamie's son, a law student became involved with a "hot" model. She was neither a Christian, nor a young lady of good reputation. When Jamie and his wife admonished him to break the relationship, all Chad would say is,

"But she's such a gorgeous sight to behold! I'll never find a Christian that looks Lindsey." Jamie and his wife, Laura, prayed. In desperation they told him there would be no more funds for school if the relationship continued.

Chad dropped out of law school and moved into an apartment with her. It wasn't long before they announced they were expecting - twins. Chad was making very little. Lindsey's health was poor and she could not work.  Jamie knew both she and their grandchildren-to-be would need medical help. That, and a direct offer from the hospital system’s administrator and a significant salary increase, apparently dictated that he return to the position as the head of radiation oncology.  Jamie prayed for Chad, Lindsey, and their babies. He prayed about the job. So much for his former resolve. He returned to his former job.

For several years John seemed to have straightened out his act. Maybe it was because of Jamie’s own family problems, or because of the heavier responsibilities, or just because he was getting older; but no matter what the reason, Jamie missed the problem until a bold young nursing student marched right into his office to complain about the pin-ups on Dr. Winter's office wall. They were offensive to both his female co-workers and his patients. He was also flirting with the new group of students. Jamie questioned a few of the girls. The kid was right. Jamie told John to re-decorate his office and keep his eyes in his head.

The Fear of Eyes

Five years later a wan, under-sized 10-year-old girl entered his examination room. Despite obvious illness, Johanna Michaela (He was told she used both names.) was still as feminine and beautiful as her lovely name. The films from her testing were lying on the counter. He pulled them out of the envelope. There it was – looking right up at him from the film – an eye formation. Déjà vue overwhelmed him. When he finished shuddering, he looked back at his young patient who was scrutinizing his entire demeanor. She did not trust him. She seemed to sense that things were not good, probably from that very unprofessional reaction to the film in his hand.

“Get it in gear, Baxter. You know better than to do that,” he chastened himself.

But there it was. It was still "looking" at him. He evaluated the dad’s ability to handle the horrifying news to come. He was already crying. Oh, that stupid reaction again! On his coffee break he had overheard the nurse talking to him about his daughter growing into a young lady. While agreeing verbally with the nurse, Dad seemed not to be adjusting to this idea too well. It would be much easier if things didn’t have to change. Jamie had made a mental note of the conversation. He conjectured that the teratoma was likely to do him in. He would need a lot of support. What about Mom? Oh… the records said there was no mom.

He quickly jammed the film back into its envelope before either Dad or Johanna Michaela could see its dreadful sight. He looked back up to make sure he had succeeded. There she was, a small figure, certainly 2-3 inches short of the norm. She definitely did not look 10. Her skin was pale white, and like Mike, she reminded him of a small lamb. He faltered. In the short moment he had seen the film his keen eyes had already located the growth. Strange, this monster, or was it monsters, were growing both inside and outside the skull. He had never heard of this. But there was more than just that dreadful eye. Her pituitary gland was hopelessly encircled by a vague hand, complete with nails. That would explain the small stature. She wasn’t growing. He hadn’t caught any other specific organ tissue, but he hadn’t looked that closely or read the written report either.

He began to sweat. He couldn’t deal with one of these again. He was sure. He would have to hand her over to another associate as soon as possible. But he had to say something. Both were now openly staring at him, waiting expectantly. To stall for a few more seconds he called the nurse in to take out Johanna Michaela. He started in slowly, making his decisions as he spoke.

“Ah, um – this is not an easy thing for me to say, um, but there is a, ah, growth at the base of your daughter’s head.” He voted against revealing the grizzly details or the involvement of the pituitary gland. He knew both the outcome of leaving it and this was sure to be malignant.  To remove it would require by conventional means would destroy the gland. That meant she would never grow up, never melt into feminine lines, and never be able to reproduce. She would live the rest of her life in her undersized 10-year-old body. His mind extrapolated. She would never be large enough to drive, never draw the attention of a young man for the fall dance, probably never marry, and never be a mother. How weird her relationships would be! She would not be accepted with the other children as she matured mentally, but yet as she aged, teens and adults would never quite look on her as one of them. She would always be out of place. There was a shuffling noise. He had forgotten Dad was still waiting for the rest of the diagnosis.

“Ah, we’ll have to test for a malignancy, just to be safe, of course, and then she will have to see another doctor.”

 There – he had just found the way to surrender her to someone else’s care. Jamie felt relieved. But his heart was thumping almost audibly. Reality was pounding his heart like medieval soldiers driving a beam into a fortress gate. He knew this would not be just a monster, but a third head monster, a teratocarcinoma - cancer. What were the odds? Well, he didn’t have any proof of malignancy yet, so he would withhold judgment. After all, Mike’s report had come back normal. After all, those were preliminary reports and they had been wrong. There were those bombarding soldiers again, and the bars were cracking. He knew. He knew this precious little lamb had cancer. He knew chemotherapy could only slow it down at best. He knew that standard radiation therapy would probably only shrink it, only delaying the inevitable. The bars were broken, and now those soldiers were buffeting the door fiercely. What could he do now? He could not surrender this poor lamb. He could not face another monster again. Crack! The doors had splintered. He also knew he and John were the only ones qualified to use the gamma knife for surgery as critical as this. But was John the doctor he used to be? There was that shuffle again, and that sobbing too.

“Ah, the nurse will schedule the biopsy for you . . . and she can help you with your, ah, distress. She can explain the procedures and give you information on a support group for other families who have faced, ah, this particular difficulty.” He definitely played down the critical nature of the monster – for the poor, unstable dad’s benefit, of course.

“Give him some hope,” he justified.

He quickly called the nurse he had seen him talking to earlier to take him to another room. There! That’s that! He jammed the accusing films along with the written report into the shredder. He couldn’t bear to see that eye again. Besides, the lab would have back-up records if anyone really wanted them.  His pulse slacked a bit. He took a long breath and dropped his head onto his hands. It was settled for now. He would wait to see if the oncologist would seek the films or just be content with a biopsy, assuming it was a “normal” cancer. He hoped with all his heart he would not be called back onto the case.

Return of the Roving Eyes

The days passed with their normal hectic schedule, and the image of that eye faded into business of life. He had even quit dreaming about eyes until one Sunday morning the pastor preached on David’s sin with Bathsheba.

“Good sermon for men with wandering eyes – men like John,” he recalled. John appeared to have been behaving in a more dignified manner since that last reprimand. For a while their personal relationship seemed disconnected. Funny, it was not making a call that cost John his son, but a relatively "trivial" problem that seemed to have separated them. Oh well, things looked like they might work out OK. John had been huffy at first, but he complied and was trying a little harder to re-connect with Jamie. He hoped so. He had prayed for his friend, and God was able to take care of it without him. But when it was announced that a grant was to be awarded to the most promising physician in cancer treatment, it had been suggested to the administrator that perhaps Dr. Jamison Baxter might not be the best choice. He did have a serious loss which may have been preventable. Jamie blew it away. He was sure he had as good a chance as any. It was probably just one of the other weaker department heads just being immature, showing his jealousy.

“Anyway, eyes are not my problem anymore. I am a physician, and in 29 years of practice I’ve seen everything. Doesn’t bother me anymore,” he commended himself. And it really didn’t – for the most part.

“…Oh, the devastation one look can make,” the preacher broke in. “That first view may be an accident, but the second is not. It is a deliberate choice. It is sin. God does not count us guilty for the temptations in our lives, but he does hold us responsible for the next action we make. He promised us in I Corinthians 10:13 that there is no temptation, I repeat, no temptation that He allows without an escape route…”

Jamie phased out for a few minutes.

“…David’s whole family was destroyed as one sin led to another. Sometimes the consequence of sin is more sin… David would eventually lose those who should have been most important to him…David was once the head of his great kingdom, but one willful look, just one sneak peek, lead to immorality, manipulation, murder, the loss of his sons, and eventually the destruction of his kingdom. The head of the kingdom fell to the lowest state.”

“Yesterday’s sermon was pretty high-powered,” Jamie mused as he thoughtlessly poured the remaining coal-tar from his cup into the drain. He was stewing. Had he seen John eying the cute resident during treatment instead of monitoring the machines? He had really hoped for that scene to disappear. John had missed a shift in the voltage - really dangerous. Jamie had been the only one who had seen it and quickly compensated for his friend’s error. Should he rat on John to the administrator? John would instantly be fired, he was sure. He didn’t want to do that. Besides, he had to think of the hospital’s fine reputation. It would be trashed. Should he just let it go? Oooo… no. That could kill or maim a patient. It would be unethical for him to allow that. And then there were still the un-awarded grants. If he told the truth, it would look as if he were just trying to smear John – dirty politician style. After he had weathered the rumors about him, he definitely didn’t want to go there.

Return of the Teratoma Eyes

Jamie returned to his office to study a new case. His phone rang, startling him from his thoughts. It was John. Another associate had a young girl with a teratocarcinoma. Jamie’s heart raced. His mouth went dry. The monster had returned!

“No!” his mind screamed, “Not her again! Not that eye again! No more monsters!”

He desperately tried to protect himself. His mind accelerated. He had failed the last time. He certainly would not be considered for the same surgery again. Besides, he was getting older now. He had too many family problems of his own to be able to focus on such a critical surgery as this. His other son, Charlie, 25-year-old with some attention difficulties, was determined to go to Bible College. The school had agreed to test him separately to help, but he still would be in classes with others. He really needed his dad’s help to study every night.

Chad and Lindsey were expecting again. Pre-eclampsia again too. Grandma and Grandpa had to baby-sit every day till late so that Chad could work two jobs. All because his oldest son had seen a gorgeous red-headed model. A pair of 4 year old boys took a lot out of his wife and him. His mind wandered to the verse about the sins of the parents affecting the children and grandchildren. It then occurred to him that the sins of the children affect the parents too.

Back to the decision at hand. He really couldn’t be expected to do this with all the pressures on his life. He could be dangerous. Oooo… there they were again – all of them. The eyes in the head! The monster tentacle on the eye that had made little Mike blind and eventually led to his death. The verse in his head about the eyes during surgery. John’s lusting, roving eyes. Chad's spiritual demise and failed goals because of his eyes. The single eye in Johanna Michaela’s head peering at him from the shredded film. David’s eyes that destroyed his family. If there was a name for “eye phobia”, Jamie knew he had it.

CRASH! His defense was useless. Any remaining strength evaporated. Those stupid soldiers were back and had finally succeeded in breaking down the doors! Jamie slammed down the phone on his friend. He would have to apologize for that later. He collapsed to his office floor.

“Oh, Dear Lord, the eyes, the eyes! What do I do about all those eyes? I need your help. I can’t do it alone. Help me to see clearly the way through the eyes!

All was still. The ringing phone had ceased. Jamie crawled up from the floor to his desk chair. It was OK. He still didn’t know what to do, but he did know the One whose eyes could see the way through it. With His strength, Jamie could do it, no matter how hard, no matter what the cost.

The Opening of the Eyes

Jamie took off two days to study and pray. While he had been crying out to the Lord in his office, he could almost see the verses written on a chalkboard in his mind. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye," (Psalm 32:8). "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5-6). "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering," (James 1:5-6).

He started by studying people who had had to make hard decisions in their lives. He studied Abraham, who had been willing to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice. What faith! He studied the widow of Zarephath, who had given her last bit of food to Elijah. What obedience! He studied Joseph, who had forgiven his brothers when he could have easily retaliated. What mercy! He studied Jesus, who had hung on the cross for him, Jamie Baxter. What love!

Jamie got stuck. He reflected backwards on Christ's ministry before the cross. He had been a physician. But of course, He was God and could heal miraculously. He didn't have to face the gory reality of the things Jamie did, or the failures. But then it occurred to him that "...we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," (Hebrews 4:15) and "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," (Hebrews 13:5). The comprehension that Jesus had been with him and felt everything he had ever felt slowly seeped into Jamie's heart. Jesus had been there that awful day he had to make the decision about little Mike. He had been there on every case before and since. He felt the successes. He felt the losses. He could even feel his fear of eyes and teratomata. Jamie flopped over on his desk and prayed. He prayed until the Spirit of God gently replaced fear with a much-needed peace in his heart.

The first priority was the tiny Johanna Michaela. He met with his colleagues to determine the best course of action. He knew before starting the meeting that the decision would include gamma knife surgery.

 Facing the Eyes

“Dr. Baxter,” asked Johanna Michaela, “I heard the nurses talking about another little boy with the same thing wrong as me.”

“I’m going to gag those nurses,” he thought.

“They said something went wrong and then he died.”

“I’m going to have them fired as soon as I find out who they are!”

“They said you were his doctor. They said maybe you made a mistake or something.”

His temperature rose to boiling.

“They should know better that that! Scaring this poor child! Completely irresponsible! Gossips!”

“Dr. Baxter? Did you hear me?” she broke into his thoughts again. “I just wanted to ask you something… Did you do your very best to help that little boy?”

Jamie stepped backwards, tripping and landing awkwardly on his stool. Johanna Michaela eyed him carefully, then got up and crossed the room. She reached out her hand to pull him up straight and looked him right in the eye.

“Did you do your very best to help that little boy?”

Jamie fumbled his mind racing. The old fears and feelings of guilt were regaining control.

“It’s OK.” She patted him on the shoulder in a comforting, motherly style. “We all get afraid sometimes. When Mama was sick I was afraid she would die. She told me she was never going to die. She was just going to live with Jesus in heaven instead of Carver Street. The only people who die are those who don’t know Jesus. They go to hell. Mama taught me a song.”

 “What time I am afraid, I will trust in God, What time I am afraid, I will trust in God,” she sang to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

“I wasn’t afraid anymore, not when I trusted God.” She moved in closer with their noses almost touching.

“You see, when I was a little girl I asked Jesus to come into my heart and wash my sins away so I could go to heaven too. If you can’t fix the tumors in my head, I will go to live with Jesus and Mama. You don’t have to be afraid, Dr. Baxter, not if you know Jesus. Do you know Jesus?”

“Ah, yes.”

“Well then, promise you’ll do your best for Jesus, and I won’t be afraid.”  

“I learned a new Bible verse last week.  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ I Corinthians 10:31,” she quoted.

“That’s great, Honey.”

That’s why I asked if you did your best for that little boy. Did you do it all for the glory of God?

Jamie looked away from the penetrating blue eyes. Had he done it all for the glory of God? Had he done his best? Suddenly the burden of the years dropped away. He had done his best. He had tried to do all his work for the glory of God. Mike’s death was not his fault.  He looked back up to the pair of waiting blue eyes.

“Yes, Honey, I did. I did do it for the glory of God.” He gave her a hug.

 The Grip of the Eyes

Before the procedure began, Jamie prayed aloud with his team. This one would be solely by the grace of God, and he wanted them all to know it. This "eye" was in God's hands. Since there were multiple tumors, the procedure would take several days. It would be wearying, but he knew he could do it. He was doing it for the glory of God.

Johanna Michaela smiled when Jamie entered the room after the last time. Her eyes searched his to find the answer she sought. Yes, she would survive. He didn't have to explain much to this perceptive child. He smiled back and gave her a quick squeeze. They would both survive. He turned to leave.

"Doctor Baxter," She questioned, "I heard the nurse say something about my tumor being an eye. Did I have an extra eye in my head?"

“Oh, those nurses!”

No… ah, I mean yes. No, not exactly. Ah… I mean both really. Maybe we need to have another grown-up talk about this too. The tumors in your head were a weird kind. They try to grow like parts of the body. Your tumors looked like an eye and part of a hand with claws. It was on your pituitary gland, the one that makes you grow. It looked really wicked, but they are gone now."

"Oh," She considered this new information, "You're saying that the evil eye had claws holding onto me, and that’s why I couldn’t grow?"

Jamie choked. Out of the mouths of babes! Once again, this fragile little girl had just summed up the matter of all those eyes in one simple question. The teratoma "eyes". John's eyes. Chad's eyes. King David's eyes. His fear of eyes. The heart of the problem was not simply the eyes, but the strangling hold they have in the heart.

"Yes, Honey. You are 100% correct."

"Then since we fixed the eye and its claws, I can grow again?"

"Correct again."


The next "eye" to conquer was John. Jamie had been studying the file of a teenage patient on Jon's computer for which John wanted a consult. But John must have been involved in that code blue earlier, for when Jamie turned on his monitor it was John's screensaver that appeared. He moved the mouse. What greeted him was... He looked away. Then he glanced back. In the remote parts of his mind he remembered a sermon - something about the first look being accidental, but the second was a sinful choice. Jamie hit the back arrow as fast as he could just to clear the screen. He sighed. He decided to make the right choice. He accidentally clicked the mouse again.

"Sorry, Lord. I know I still have that old nature," he confessed in relief.

However, his relief was short, for on the screen the computer backed up to was a list of "favorites". Jamie gaped at the list in utter astonishment. He slowly counted 37 sites all of the same nature - or were they? The last dozen reflected content with minors.

"Oh, John, the monster of the eyes truly is back again. Now what do I do, Lord?"

 More Opening of the Eyes

Jamie decided to do some extra studying and praying after his son, Charlie, and his wife went to bed. It was a hard decision, for Laura and he had hardly seen each other in months except for collapsing into bed at the end of another strenuous day. He only had 3 years until retirement. Oh, how he looked forward to some rest, but he knew he needed the Lord's rest even more.

He started with Matthew 5:23-24: " Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

He pondered that for a while. Should he go to John again? This was getting seriously dangerous. But while John had certainly offended the Lord, he had not exactly offended Jamie directly, he rationalized. He really didn't want to face this again.

The second night the Holy Spirit directed him to Matthew 7:16-20: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

Jamie's rationalization continued.  John was generally good guy. OK, he lost it when Mike died. He eventually lost his wife and kids. He had problems with his "entertainment". He had harassed some of the girls, but John had helped so many people over the years. He had done things others couldn't. Didn't that count for anything? He tried praying but found that he couldn't. Conviction settled on his heart.

"All right, Lord. I know better. Sin is sin. There is no white-washing it. I know you want me to deal with this again." Then another thought pierced his soul like an arrow.

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

John had told Jamie he was a Christian when they had first met many years ago, and Jamie had left it at that. The stark truth was that he didn't even know for sure if John was really saved. Was this the root of the problem, or was John just a very back-slidden Christian? Overwhelming guilt flooded him. He confessed. He would definitely have to do something about that.

"This is getting harder, Lord. You will have to show me how to do this."

Night three - He was drawn to Luke 6:41-42: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."

"Oh, Lord. Not again. I'm beginning to feel like meatloaf - all ground up and squashed together at the same time."

He suddenly remembered the foul mood he had been in when he had gotten home that night. He harshly scolded the twins, knowing they both had been in bed most of the day with the flu. He complained to Laura about not having supper ready on time, and it being one of those prepared box meals. Didn't he make enough money for real food? Then he jumped on Charlie for not trying hard enough on his schoolwork. Worst of all he had griped to Chad about the boys always being there, and it was time for him to have some time for himself, so he could study the Bible a little earlier. He had been a great example tonight. He knew he should apologize to his family - not something he was very good at doing. Maybe they would forget it if he let it go.

Night four - Matthew 18:3-7:  "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

"Wait a minute, Lord. This was supposed to be about John, not me!" But no matter how he argued it with the Lord, it all came up the same. He was guilty. Pride - that insidious strangler of any Christian endeavor. Guilty, as charged. Resentment - that continual wishing that the twins were not under his roof. He loved them, but they were so rambunctious. Guilty, as charged. Offending children – He had yelled so loud at the twins. He also had blown it with both of his own sons. Guilty, as charged - 4 counts. Then, for the grand finale, the Spirit had thrown in I Peter 3:7, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." Not being understanding - guilty, as charged.

Jamie looked at his Bible and the “sentences” for his multiple offenses. The first one promised “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” He wasn’t worried about that one. He had been converted. But there was that part about becoming as little children. Hmm. Then there was that “humble himself as this little child.” That was probably why he had not been able to pray, and probably the reason for his rotten mood in the first place. He knew he should have humbly obeyed the Spirit's conviction right away instead of pushing it aside. He cried to the Lord for forgiveness and decided he had some rectifying to do first thing in the morning.

 Night five he continued with the passage he had not completed the night before, Mattthew 18:8-11. "Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."

Oh, that was where that verse about the eyes was. His thoughts tonight re-focused on John. He considered the ramifications of the thought of John losing his eyes. The once "Top Doc" would never be able to do gamma knife surgery again. He couldn't do any radiation again. He couldn't even read a simple X-ray. He couldn't drive. He would have to depend on public transportation even if he could find employment. And he would certainly lose that lovely townhouse he owned. The thoughts spiraled lower and lower until he looked at the alternative: hell fire. There it was again - that nagging feeling that Jon may not know the Lord at all.

The next paragraph sent a chill down his spine. He suddenly remembered the last of the websites Jon was viewing. He shuddered as he thought of their possible content. How far down had John's thinking gone? He remembered the complaints of the nurses. Was it possible that Jon... He couldn't. Not Jon.  

"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."

There it was again: salvation. Jamie had to know. He could no longer believe that John was saved. How could he be?

"Lord, you've got me - all of me. I'll do anything you ask. Take care of all these eyes - again."

 Victory Over the Eyes

It was Saturday. Jamie and Laura sat on their deck. The sun's warmth about their small shaded table was comforting. It was quiet, except for Laura's chattering about some sales on school clothes for the boys. They would be entering kindergarten in a few weeks. The baby wasn't due for a few months yet. The doorbell rang. Jamie put down his iced tea and headed for the front door. It was Chad and Lindsey, but no boys.

"Sit down, Lin. You look flushed," he said as he tried to figure the reason for the front door and the doorbell. Generally the troops just stormed the castle.

"Um, Dad, may we talk, please." That didn't sound like his son either. He wondered what bombshell he was going to drop on them this time.

"Laura, come in here, please. Chad and Lindsey are here."

"Mom. Dad. We have something we want to tell you. Since I'm the head of our house, I'll tell the story."

"Funny," thought Jamie, "Chad using that phrase and they are still living together."

"Well, it starts like this. Back when I was in grad school some of the guys thought it would be cute if they played a joke on the serious, religious guy. They spiked my closet door with a picture of a gorgeous model - a red head. I tore it down for testimony's sake, but that image stuck in my mind. After that they put spicier pictures torn from magazines in my texts and everywhere they could think of. I was really angry at first, but after a while it didn't seem like such a big thing. It took the fun out of it, and they eventually gave up. They never knew the only picture that really got to me was the first one."

"You probably won't remember, but there was a modeling show near school, and the guys talked me into going. The last model was the red head they had put on my closet door. I could never forget her face. After the show I bribed a security guard to let me into the dressing room area, and I went to her room to meet her. Surprisingly, she let me in and even accepted a date. I thought she was teasing me, but she did show. You can guess the rest. Lindsey and I were made for each other. I couldn't give her up, even for law school. Except for not being saved, she was perfect. Now Lindsey has something to say."

"I know you disapproved of me from the start, but I really didn't care. For the last five years I've been watching you. When the boys were born you loved them. I could see that you truly loved Chad too. You had only been trying to protect him from the likes of me. Eventually I could see that you loved me in spite of things. Nobody genuinely loved me before. To my parents I was only a bother until I was good looking enough to be a means of income. They took most of my modeling money to fatten their own lifestyle."

"When I met Chad, I knew he was only interested in my looks. That was no different than any other date I had, so I went anyway. After a few dates Chad had the nerve to tell me that I needed to ask Jesus into my heart to save me from my sins. I shut him down fast. If we were going to stay a couple, he would have to drop that condemning thinking altogether.

Jamie had no idea where this was going, but he was hearing some things he hadn't known before.

"Well, after I found out I was expecting this time, I did not want another baby. Chad talked me into going to a pregnancy crisis center downtown. I was confused, but the ladies there were so understanding. They spent weeks listening to me. You thought I was at home in bed, but every day I could, I went.

"Everything in my head was upside down. Then all of a sudden it all clicked. The things they told me about Jesus were really true. They showed me the words in their Bibles, but what made it clear for me were the words of their lives. Last week I asked Jesus to forgive me for being a sinner. I decided I wanted to keep the baby too."

"You should have seen her." Chad interrupted."When I got home with the boys she was glowing. When she told me what happened, I was not very happy. She didn't understand. God was convicting me too. I had dated and fallen in love with an unsaved girl. I quit school. I was living immorally. I failed myself. I failed her. I failed you. I failed God. I guess I pretty much rained on her party that night. She didn't give up though. The next day when she came home, she told me that we had been living in sin. ...uh, what I am trying to say is... this morning we got married. You're looking at Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick Baxter."

"And daughter, Emily." Lindsey added.

"A girl? Oh, Lindsey, we love you all," gushed Laura, hugging the new couple.

"Thank you, Lord." Jamie prayed that night, tears flowing. "You did hear our prayers. You took care of Chad's eye problem in your own time and way. Who would have ever imagined that you would use Lindsey, the very object of his eye problem, to bring our son back to you? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."


The newspapers headlined it. "Doctor Indicted for Inappropriate Behavior. Teen Talks." Jamie's heart sank. He knew what the rest would say. He couldn't bear to look at it.

"Jamie? Is everything OK?" asked Laura, handing him his coffee. She glanced at the paper he was holding, and seeing the headline, read further.

"Oh, how awful!" I thought Dr. Tamura was such a fine man. How must his wife feel?"

"Dr. Tamura? What are you talking about, Dear?" He put down his cup and stared at her.

"That article, Jamie. Dr. Tamura was indicted. How could you miss it?"

He looked back at the paper. It finally began to penetrate his thinking. It hadn't been John after all. He read the rest of the article with both shock and relief.


The hospital was buzzing all day about the grim news. Some couldn't believe it. Others said he always was too quiet about things. It was 9:15PM and he was still going over reports. He wasn't going to be much help to Charlie tonight. A knock sounded on his door, and it opened quietly.

"Jamie, may I speak with you?" It was John.

"Sure. What about?" He hoped it would be short, not another difficult consult.

"Ah, Dr. Tamura… No… I mean me, Jamie." he groped for a solid answer.

"Yes, that sure puts a blight on pediatrics, doesn't it?

"That's not who I'm talking about."

"What? Who?" Jamie had only been partly listening. He put down the report in his hand and paid attention to his friend for the first time.

"It's me, Jamie. It's me. I'm in big trouble. I thought I could handle it, but now I'm really afraid. There's no one else I can talk to except you."

"What kind of trouble, John - if it's money..."

"No, nothing like that. Worse than that. I'm addicted... I'm addicted to... Well, you already know, Jamie. It's pornography. And when I look back, I can see I've been a little too friendly with the girls on the shifts. This thing with Tamura really shook me. He was the one who "showed" me a "little relaxation" years ago. Now look at him. Jamie, I'm scared. That could have been me. It's gotten really bad lately. I don't even want to think about the stuff I've been looking at. How did I end up here?"

Jamie's tired brain finally started to comprehend what his friend was telling him.

"The second look, John. The second look."

"John, there is one thing I must ask you first, before we go any further. Years ago you told me you were a Christian. Will you tell me exactly what you think a Christian is?"

"I guess it's someone who does more good than bad, helps his world be a better place. You know, when his time is up everything gets weighed up. I always thought I would do just fine with all the people I have helped, but today scared me, really scared me. I know down deep inside that I could never do enough good to balance what I've been doing and thinking. I could have been Tamura."

"Thanks for being honest. You're right. We do need to talk. Let me call Laura and Charlie. Go grab some of that sewage they call coffee around here."

They talked long into the night. John already understood that he was a sinner. Then he readily agreed with the verse Jamie showed him about sin’s wages being eternal death. He knew the story of Christ dying on the cross for the salvation of sinners. He knew Jesus rose again from the dead. He had gone to a church that taught the Bible when he was small. He had just forgotten it. Back then he had actually believed it too. The years had simply eroded those things away.

"John, you're telling me you once believed in Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection, but has there ever been a time you claimed the forgiveness and salvation He offers you for yourself? Have you reached out and taken His gift? Stop. Think for a moment. When someone gives you a gift what do you do? You reach out, take it, and open it - right?"

"Well, right. Now that you put it like that, I think that maybe I've been holding the gift in my hands for years, but never opened it."

"Well said, my friend. Would you like to open it now?

John nodded thoughtfully. They knelt beside the small sofa and prayed together. The routine noise of a hospital at night quietly accompanied their prayers. When they were done, John looked at his friend through quiet tears.

"Thanks for praying for me and never giving up.”

“You’re my friend John. What else could I do? Now you need to find something better for your eyes to see.”

 “Do you have any ideas?"

"Sure do, John. Sure do," he replied as he handed him the Bible he was holding.


Psalm 101:3  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

 Matthew 5:28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Job 31:1  I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

 I John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Matthew 18:9  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Hebrews 12:1b-2  Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jude 21  Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

I Surrender All

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.

Words: Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896:     Music: Winfield S. Weeden, 1896


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