Show me your wounds

aloneIt has been said by some that heaven is filled with sinners and hell is filled with the perfect and the righteous. I remember when I underwent my “adult” conversion. One night I confessed my sins to God. It was late at night, and I was on my knees and my face on the floor while my tears soaked the carpet. The last time I cried so much I was a little boy.

As a younger man I was pretty despicable. Many have said to me since, “You weren’t so bad”. Well, they didn’t know me too well. Or they couldn’t see the inside of my heart. My inner life was rotten and selfish. But that night God the Father guided me ever so tenderly through repentance.

Jesus was not always merciful. Don’t believe me? Try on some of these lines from Matthew 23:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!…you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

…or…

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

And finally…

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

Yikes.

Jesus went among the people he came to save and they came to him. The sinners, the dirty, the weak, the brokenhearted… to these his mercy was infinite.

Jesus says:

Listen. If you are perfect and righteous I can do nothing for you. It isn’t about following a set of rules. But if you are imperfect and wounded then I have come for you. If you have found no other resting place for that deep dark place inside you, then you will find rest in me. Show me your wounds that I might heal them with mine.

Let Him into your heart. Let Him heal you. There is no greater love.

hands

photo credits:
(“Self-Porterait #12″) r.f.m IIhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/12639226@N08/2606164515/in/photolist-4YigUX-4YGq9R-55T7zT-56T1EK-5a7W7N-5cVPAq-5g58dG-5geA2H-5gJZS9-5hp4n1-5imxWv-5iF7iC-5k5LHS-5nX9wZ-5pPWpv-5q2jUD-5sFkC5-5t1NKR-5tu8kL-5tUqUt-5uJvMg-5uJx3Z-5uJx44-5wx7Ta-5zFWeM-5A5WE9-5AX99z-5CWXwJ-5DEjB3-5EvNv3-5EMMJY-5G1V7f-5GRrWF-5H8tZ1-5KmELM-5L2JWZ-5PwJQX-5QxsbZ-5SE785-5Ws6yg-5Ws6C6-5XcmwJ-5XYESA-5XZWH7-61HySp-65yQS6-66MHk6-68vmkx-693wmB-69G2zU-6avbYm
(“I Am Full of Earth”) kelsey_lovefusionphotohttp://www.flickr.com/photos/supersonicphotos/4279516737/

Pre-Dawn

I awaken to find you there again, ready to greet me Lord. You know all about me, every part of me. You are not interested in my talents or my strengths. You are not looking where I have it all figured out.

No, that’s just not it. That’s just where I don’t get it.

It’s that scary place. When the lightning and the thunder roared so loud and the house shook as if it might fall to the ground. When I was a child that place made me tremble like a skinny leaf. That’s when I looked for you. When I cried out to you.

Now I’m old and the thunder doesn’t scare me so much. Now I’m hardened with thick scars. Am I not strong? Just look at me and see how strong I am.

Yet in the stillness before the dawn you offer me what I can not give myself. You offer to heal and restore me in places I can not. The places where I am weak and still tremble at the storm.

Take this little boy’s hand. Heal this little boy’s heart. I cry out to you again.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

. . .

2 Cor 12:10

98 pound weakling

I always hated when a job or school application asked me to list my strengths and weaknesses. It was like asking me to lie. How many truly dig deep down and take a sincere inventory? “I’m a hard worker, honest, responsible, intelligent, blah, blah, blah…” Even bigger lies hid among my supposed weaknesses. How long I toiled over these to make me look good. “I procrastinate (but I perform best under pressure!)” Or “I’m too hard on myself sometimes” meaning “Look how humble I am!”

Remember Charles Atlas? He promised to make me a real man. How many times was I tempted to order his “free” book and be transformed into the “Hero of the beach”? I wanted so much to be strong.

We focus on our strengths. We cultivate and display them. But a good coach looks for his athlete’s weaknesses and works on these to make a champion. Sometimes strength and weakness might even present themselves in the same circumstance. How many of us feel compassion? I do. When I see someone suffering I feel bad for them. I wish better for them and this is good.

What happens though when it is someone who I dislike or whose priorities and principles stand against mine? When things go wrong for them how do I react? Yes, compassion floats slickly on the surface, but deep down what do I feel? Happiness? Or perhaps more precisely, satisfaction. Do I think, “Well they deserved it,” with a sense of self-righteousness? How odd that I can feel these opposite sensations at the same time. But, like the job application, it is a lie. Because the compassion I feel is false. It is a crafty disguise to let me fully enjoy my self-righteousness. How sad. So I end up being the one that needs compassion instead.

The apostle Paul wrote that in his weakness he finds his strength. He knew that strength keeps Jesus out of our lives. Our strength is a fortress against Christ’s healing grace. Our weakness –be it a wound, illness, addiction, denial, apathy or pride – this is the door to our salvation and it terrifies us. It is the light shining upon our nakedness before God revealing truth.

How afraid we are to be free.

Set aside your strength. Let your weakness be exposed to God in heaven. Let Him enter this door to heal you. To cleanse you. To free you. Let Him make you a champion.