In the heyday of great magazines such as LIFE, I indulged in a hobby for the amusement of fun friends. It required both a sharp eye and scissors. I would cut out pictures and unrelated captions, then pair them up for laughs. Today I recall only one in distinct detail. It is night and a country doctor has just been awakened by the shrill ringing of the phone on his nightstand. Having grabbed the receiver, he sits at the edge of his bed with an incredulous look on his face. The caption reads: “Ear Wax?”
That very same look was on mine when I stepped off the elevator at Kaiser Sunset in 2008. Showing up for the first of 25 daily radiation treatments for breast cancer, t was not yet familiar with the facility. Two signs grabbed my attention. The one pointing right said “Ear Wax Removal,” the one pointing left, “Radiation.” Having just signed the consent form, I grudgingly entered the weird world of “Linear Accelerator 1B.” “We hope,” read the form, “that the treatments will help you, but they also might hasten your death.”
Fast forward to March 2020, when the Costco dispenser cannot order a badly needed new hearing aid because of cerumen impaction. I’m throwing in the medical term for the benefit of the squeamish. Having tried home remedies only to incur vertigo, who has enough guts now to clamor for an ear-wax-removal appointment? Should help be sought from the USNS Mercy anchored in our port - and become fodder for the media?
The one truly relevant question is implied in chapters 2 and 3 of John’s Revelation. They contain the 7 letters to the 7 churches dictated to him by Jesus. Every single one ends with the caution, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Are we by chance the hard of hearing because we have waxed lukewarm like the Laodiceans, or indifferent to false teaching and immorality like the church in Pergamum? Christ’s first and foundational complaint is addressed to the Ephesians, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). Spiritual ear- wax removal requires repentance, the loathing and leaving of sin. Its wages are death.