The Scar Chapter 4

The Lava man and the gardener did their best to repair the wound to Zoe’s hand, but all they could do is put some salve on it to ease the pain and a great bandage around it. Her hand now looked like a molten cracked landscape on top, with some crusted scab and ooze in the cracks. Zoe was able to bear the pain of it better, now that things with her father were better. They went back and finished their dinner that the events with the stranger had interrupted.

Later that night, as she was getting ready for bed she heard a knock on the door. It was her Mom coming to say good night.

“Hey honey. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.” She said.

“Your hand?” She said motioning to the bandaged hand.

“It still hurts.”

“Try not to move it too much.”

“Yes Mom.” And with that, Mom leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and said, “Good night.”

“Good night.” Zoe said as she snuggled under the covers.

Her sleep was not to be. She blinked after a while in bed. The house was still and the lights were out. She rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She lifted her white-bandaged hand and wrist, and then placed it back down on top of her blanket and sheets.

She remembered what her father had said: to go to God as your Heavenly Father. She couldn’t sleep, so she just prayed.

“God, would you please heal my hand?”

No response.

“God, my Dad said that you would come if I called you.” But then as she said it, she remembered his words, “If you seek him with all your heart.”

She tried again. “God, will you please heal my hand?”

No response again. Maybe she wasn’t doing it right. Maybe she was still mad at her Dad, and God didn’t like that, or that made her heart unable to hear him.

A third time she persisted, “Father, I am sorry for what I did to disobey my dad. If you are willing, could you please heal my hand?”

This time, she didn’t hear anything, but she felt something. It was like the silence around her was full of something. It wasn’t bad, but it was . . . hard to describe except . . . peaceful.

Is this what her Dad meant?

She checked her hand unwrapping it from the bandage. It was still tightly curled in a fist of burned skin and oozed scabbing.

Then she heard in her head, three words that felt like they were “light” itself. They were:

Open your hand

Her inside recognized the voice. It was something she had heard in her father’s voice, but it was other than her father’s voice. She at first was delighted to comply. She stretched the un-wounded hand open and raised it up for God in Heaven to see. But the “light voice” returned:

Not that one

She then realized, he meant to open the burned hand. By now, the burned skin had hardened, and It stung and oozed and burned.

“But it will hurt” she said.

There was no answer. But a memory stirred in her mind. A picture of an old woman who said to a boy she had been healing. “It has to hurt if it is to heal.” That was the answer. She had healed enough wounds of others to know that it was true. But her mother had said, “Don’t move it.” She had asked God her Father to heal her. And he had responded with a command: open your hand. The same words her Dad had spoken to her when she asked him earlier. She knew it was the answer.

But now, the choice was hers. Did she want to obey God or did she want to leave her hand the way it was? Did she trust Him enough to go through the pain He asked her to? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have one burned hand, she thought. She could still heal people. But her hand wouldn’t be able to feel as much as she needed to tenderly care for others. It would be a scar that she would always carry, but would not be one of the scars she loved.

She spoke to the voice, peacefully assured of Whom she was talking to, and said, “If I do it, will you heal me?”

The response was confusing. It was garbled with her own thoughts. It was as if, her own mind was speaking louder than His voice. It was not a helpful question.

She tried again. “If I obey you, will you do what I want?”

She tried to quiet everything else to hear what He would say, and a sad question came back,

Must I?

Her face grew puzzled, and she now wondered if she was truly speaking with her Heavenly Father? He’s All-powerful. He doesn’t have to anything . . . And then it hit her. She was trying to impose a condition on her obedience to God. As if she was saying to God, “I will trust you, if you promise you’ll heal me.” As if He had to agree to her terms before she would do anything. She knew she was wrong to say it. That’s why it was so confusing. She had to be willing to trust Him even if he did not promise to heal her. But she did have her Dad’s assurance that He would heal her heart.

“So that’s what this is about.” She breathed mostly to herself. “You want to heal more than just my hand.”

Yes

Then she felt it. She had come before the presence of the Almighty, and He did not crush her. He offered her a step of obedience to take. That was what she needed. And just like she trusted her father. . . maybe . . .

She let out a deep breath and said, “Okay, God. I will.” As she took the bandage completely off, she held her burned hand in her good hand. She first tried to see if there was any painless way to pry apart the fingers, but all she could do was pick at scabs and cause bleeding.

She sighed. Her gift was so helpful in situations like this. If only she could heal herself. But her gift didn’t work like that. She couldn’t heal herself. She needed someone else to take her wound.

She took a deep breath then put her muscles in her hand and forearm to work. The tearing, the stinging, the burning feelings all made her whine and cry again. She remembered the initial pain when it happened as her fingers out-stretched and moved around. It was like her whole hand was an exposed nerve. She felt the air brushing against it chilly like a knife.

And then again the voice came.

Give Me your hand.

Tearfully crying afresh, she extended her hand out into the air above her bed in the dark saying, “Where are you?”

Right here.

And then though she could not see anything, she felt a warmth surround her outstretched hand and grow hotter. It was like her father’s fire, only it didn’t consume her skin. Instead, it comforted it. It hurt good, like the salve they had put on her hand earlier. She held her hand out for as long as the warm process in the dark was going, and when it was over, she pulled her hand back to her and felt it with her good hand. And to her amazement and shaky gasps of laughter, the difference between her good hand and the hand that was burned was no more. She kept feeling around the skin of that the burned hand, but she felt no pain.

Suddenly, in the midst of her delight and amazement, she realized that she for the first time in her life, she was now on the receiving end of her own gift. And she knew the cost of what it must mean to the one who heals. She wondered, and asked aloud, “Father, does this mean that you have to deal with my pain in yourself?”

His response came almost as if with a smile: I already did.

She remembered that Jesus had died on the cross, and carried all sin and causes of sin, all infirmities on himself in the Cross. He bore her pain out of love for her. And now she loved Him all the more.

Then, as she felt around her hand that had been burned, she felt a patch of skin that was still rough to the touch. She turned on her lamp by her bed, and looked at her hand. It was like new, except for this small patch of a scar on the back of her hand about an inch wide. And she said,

“Lord, why did you leave a scar?”

I have scars too.

At this, she responded with something between crying and laughing, because she understood what He meant.

The next morning, she told her parents how God had met her. The father and the mother were amazed at the scar and they rejoiced. And that is how Zoe got her favorite scar of all.

Opinions and Truth

Everyone has an opinion.
Few hold the truth.
I know where to find it,
But it’s very hard to get there.
Mainly because it’s where I have no power
Only accountability
Only a glaring ugliness of all the lies I love

Opinions muck up the works
The Truth brings simplicity
Few know it when they hear it
But it’s very hard to ignore
Mainly because of it’s quiet immovable power
It is only submitted to His authority
He who loves me and hates my proud Babylons

I am tired of opinions
My heart aches for truth
Where can I find it?
It’s worth the difficult search
Mainly because it can give me the power
To face my accountability
For the problems in my life that are really my own fault.

Oh God, I submit my opinions
I yearn to be shaped by Your truth
Can you find me?
Am I worth the search
Mainly because You have given me the power
To be accountable for your Truth
To the one who loves me more than all my failures.

Marker Stone

This weight, a sandbag, an undertow.
My heart is thinned by a marker stone.
A cold white stone on living grass
Black arrow etched in distance past
The grim sight gives the traveler’s stead
Ability to decide if its ready
To take the path he journeys on
Or rest in pasture’s green warm song
But city’s distance furrows his brow
His character is not in this wasteland sown
Birds pluck the shelled life untold
From gutter’s refuse, from cracks in boulders
How weighty on his thoughts that rock
That monument to what lies locked
Behind the wall of city dweller’s face
Where Devil and Angel wings are traced.
What wealth the poor are beaten to take
On what poverty the rich have all things staked
Forbearing all this with a heavy heart
His tired feet have sorely smarted
A friend passed this way once before
If only he had not swung so loosely his sword
That his restructured and suggested way
Be hollowed out down the highwayman’s main.
Danger crouching in every shifting dark
Wherein this flattened warrior shaves with sparks
The blade which leaves its scabbard clean
But heavy in the arm the mother weans.
Such steps he takes collapses him despondent
His map suddenly seems of no assistance.
The mile marker helpful for the length
Does not reach into limbs of lead to strengthen.
Broad ways lose many progressions each day.
Only marked paths reach a safe place.
Returning from the desolate wild land
Where his fingers came to clutch the Father’s hands
Finds a quiet soberness in face once glad
To tell his tale in the presence of all lads.
The reason: by this tombstone, he is low.
And feels the greatest distance from his home.

A Return to Rest

That kindness we do ourselves
When we echo what reality serves
In etching out the dream-eral* expanse
Of a sort of discovery you don’t know exists

I enjoy games like Myst: Riven
Where the puzzles all make sense
And where the hours tick slowly clicking
To find my way back home where I belong

It’s what my soul wants most of all
To see Him, to be held in His embrace
And every time I attempt to scratch the page
I feel it scratching back with honesty exchanged

Can a canon fire into the night
And not explode where it landed?
A thousand voices echo in one chorus
While my own voice must remain authentic.

A brisk and dismal wind tears comfort far away
From the ever watchful peace that guards my heart
A wind of many swirling truths all clamoring to be heard
When one speaks louder than any strange or English word.

Alas the earth does moan beneath me
It’s song, a dirge that still rises up in hope
A hope that sees the beginning and the end
And indefinitely shoots at that target He intends

Can wings bear aloft this coil?
Can dust breathe life back into itself?
Is there any way life can still continue on
Unless the way is paved with living stones?

The Devil knows the power we underestimate
The power of the good coming to those who rest
In the faith-full assurance of the kindness of a Savior
Who calls, “Be yourself. It’s all  creatures of I AM can do.”

A burning bubbles up from satisfaction
Rejecting too much pleasure without rest
The soul must find its peace in One who works
And who took a day off to enjoy what He had made.

*Ephemeral and Dream are combined here into dream-eral

Unhappiness: an Honesty

This mortal coil that burns out to crispy cinders.
The glow once found, now lost to rotting tinder.
A hollow wind blows through this dismal shrine
Where all that now is dark once housed divine.

The bulb crackles as its amber light-rays falter
The power lost to cravings man has altered.
To spin a web of safety and for feed.
In darkened corners where shade makes light bleed.

Thrice woe! The wail of counterfeits discovered.
The blindings of the ages are uncovered.
As sight is lit by just a little proof
To bid despair loose beams and drop the roof.

Unhinged from bolts the door made for a frame
It topples to the floor in open shame.
And creatures trample down this scratching post
Where guardianship now pays its careless cost.

Untruth: the absence of the deeds of good
On which a world so beautiful has stood
Makes slavery of freedom’s fruitful trees.
And grants no peace to those who lie at ease.

The “strinch” of wrenching strength to quench
The Hell-flames reek with death’s foul stench
The play of demon dragons doomed
To empty slither neath dust entombed.

Forgotten what must take place at the top
The center, the beginning and the stop.
What worthy light can cast its mighty glow
To fill this day with life I weep to know?

True Repentance vs. Forgiving Yourself

After a weekend at Seminary learning about the gospel in the book of Romans, I was sitting in Sunday School at my church. I noticed my fellow singer in praise team sitting nearby, and Jesus laid it on my heart to pray for her. During Sunday School class about letting go of the past, I understood the following and wrote it down in my journal. I shared it in Sunday School class, and she asked me for a copy of it, because she felt like it was for her. Then she gave that copy to a friend and asked me for another copy so I decided to post it here:

Why is it so hard to forgive myself? Because I’m not letting go of my own being the Judge. I’m beating myself up because I am the one deciding, “This is bad, therefore I will assign my own punishment.” This is foreign to the true repentance of Righteousness. The true repentance of righteousness is releasing your own judgment of right and wrong by which you determine how right or how wrong you are. And once you have released your own standard of right and wrong, that silence is next filled with the terrifying, uncontrollable reality of God’s Righteousness– the true standard of right and wrong. And in looking at the Righteousness of God, we see our sin, and we confess it, and He forgives us, and we are deeply and truly forgiven, because we have a voice of “You are forgiven” from the Father, and not yourself.

So the question is not, forgiving yourself. You don’t have the right to forgive yourself!