Lynna Clark: Pointy finger

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

By Lynna Clark

Did you ever have the pleasure of meeting my mom-in-law Nina? She was feisty, funny and fierce. If one of us did something she considered socially unacceptable, she’d purse her lips trying not to comment. But she’d point her old crooked finger at us with a warning. Personally, I witnessed the wrath of the pointy finger on many occasions. Usually it was accompanied by a twinkle in her eye because she also had a great sense of humor.

For example, back in the days before internet, she had to phone in the info for the kids’ sermon she’d be giving at Trinity Baptist. One week, the person at the newspaper misunderstood. Instead of printing ‘by Nina Clark” it read “by nine o’clock.” So naturally we had a T-shirt made for her with 9 O’CLOCK printed across the front in big bold letters. She said she couldn’t wear it because it would “bend her hair” if she pulled it across her head. I remember thinking that hair wasn’t going anywhere with all that AquaNet in place. Apparently she could read minds because that was one of the many times I was the recipient of the accusatory finger. There was no accompanying eye twinkle.

Do you recall the time Jesus used His finger to write in the dust? No wait. You’re not as old as me. Let me tell you about it. The story is found in John 8.

Some very self-righteous men who had the law memorized and followed it religiously brought a woman before Him. How embarrassing to be caught in sin then shoved in front of the public. It would be bad enough to be videoed overeating at the Golden Corral. But her sin was considered pretty scandalous.

Instead of pointing at her with condemnation or even just a stern warning, Jesus knelt in the dirt and used His finger to write. It’s a mystery even now what He wrote. The story goes that one by one her accusers left… from the oldest to the youngest. Makes you wonder what in the world the Lord wrote in the dust. Oh how I wish I could have been there to get the scoop on those guys. I can just imagine how the poor woman felt as she stood there waiting for the other shoe to drop; or in her case a stone to be hurled. But instead of condemnation, she received mercy, with gentle instruction. We tend to hear only the end. Like thunder from heaven it sounds like “GO AND SIN NO MORE YOU FILTHY ANIMAL!” As a preacher friend of ours says, “Four out of five folks think God is mad at them.”

I could be wrong. I mean it’s happened before. But it seems to me in the context of the story, Jesus let the woman know that He wasn’t there to condemn her. I think gently He gave her a taste of what her life could be without the sinful lifestyle. I think she left that day with a fresh start.

Romans 2:4 reminds us that “It’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.” Oh what a concept! To enter the presence of God covered in shame but to leave clothed in grace. That’s the true message of the cross.

No pointy fingers.

Lynna Clark lives in Salisbury.

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