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.

From with Him

I sit here in the real: a couch beneath me, my socks are damp from the morning dew. The rustling of my mother moving past, and the quiet of my father on hold on the phone across from me.

I see in stillness what the eyes cannot see. I wish not to move lest I disturb it. I just read a book about the book of Genesis, and I can see the perspective of the author of that book and how it is correct in places, and not deep enough in others. But am I the judge?

People read the different books of the Bible all the time. The more one reads it, the more one sees through the letters on the page into the story beneath it. And the story is more clearly seen not only in terms of historical accuracy, but also worshipfully correct, celebratory interpretation of the historical events from with Him.

I had to get up to blow my nose. I am such a human. How grateful I am to be a human. What does it mean to be a human? If we take humanity as a whole as a clue, it appears it means to generally desire what is good, but to mess up and fail all the time. If we use humanity as a whole to help us interpret the scriptures that say, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” (Romans 3:23) We may say, “Everyone is no good.” But if we interpret humanity through the lens of who God is, then we see humanity as He sees them: as bearing His image and His likeness. This is why He loves them, because His goodness is what makes humanity valuable. This is only seen from with Him.

I journal. It has helped me go deep into the heart of who I am, as a sort of “Soul Mirror” which I use to talk with Him about what I see. It is through my journaling that I have been able to honestly see how utterly corrupt I am– How inexcusably unworthy of being the judge of good and evil. As I have broken down all the childish follies which grow up in my heart like weeds every day, I have seen in the light of His word, the things that are of Him. But I can only see them from with Him.

Humans today scrutinize God, with an intention to pass judgment on Him. And why not? The church has been passing judgment on people emphasizing God’s wrath on sin, and our otherness from Him. (My Dad just playfully passed a trashcan between my face and the screen as I wrote this. It is like that when we speak of God in such an unloving fashion. It obscures the glorious magnanimity of His face with the garbage of misinterpretation from our own failures.) If only we could see Him. See his face. What would He look like? Would we see someone in the likeness of our own corrupted vision? Is there a way we can see Him better?

Dad just walked up to me and said, “You’ll discover this later, but I bought a rope, in case you want to use the rope for projects in the future.” Then he gave me two thumbs up and said, “I have set you up for success.” I smiled and thanked him, and now I think, hasn’t God done that for us? Has He not since the creation given us everything good? Hasn’t He been pleased to give us good things? I immediately think, “What about all the terrible things that have happened in my life? How can a good God give me that?” Then I continue to think from with Him, and I humbly admit that I don’t understand it all. I just have fully trusted and become convinced that He is good, and that I am not yet aware of just how good He is, because I don’t want to know.

It’s a pervasive problem of being human because we are corrupt sinners. We don’t really want God to be a God who is bigger, greater, more perfect than we can perceive. We also don’t want the “God” who has been interpreted to us by people who claim to know him, but are really painting a picture of God in their own wounded image. This is what we want: we want to be our own arbiter of good and evil. We want to make God in our own image. This is so unworthy of God that He is just to condemn, and punish sin with death, because it takes what is good and perverts it and twists it to its own destruction.

We try to be our own “god.” It’s how we read the Bible; it’s how we pray; it’s how we live this crazy thing called real life. It’s utterly foolish. It is not possible to know God from this standpoint. How absurd! It’s like the pottery saying to the potter, “Look! I don’t have hands, therefore, the Potter must not have hands.” I don’t think this is what Isaiah was talking about in His reference, but the point is still the same. We have a Potter who is beyond us, and has been pleased to fashion us after His likeness. It is the serpent, the enemy who has sown these bad, corrupt, fake, fruitless seeds that have mixed in with God’s goodness.

When I am with Him, I see things. (My Mom just came up to the lamp by the couch and replaced the bulb that had blown out. It is shining now.) And when I see them, I love Him. But it is because I love Him that I see them. And because I love Him, I do what pleases Him. And when I do what pleases Him, I see that He is good, and his reasons for what He commands are perfect and powerful. He is with me, and I don’t see that unless I am with Him. I cannot see Him unless I am with Him. I will not be with Him, unless I can find Him. And He hides from the proud, but with the humble, He is intimate. Why? *smile*

Like a father who wants his children to grow up to take after him, so God the Father is inviting you to grow up to be like Him. This is why Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Be imitators of God as dearly beloved children.” It is simple. There are an infinite number of ways to do life wrong, just like there are infinite numbers stretching both ways from “0.” But there is one way, one place where all of life comes to a whole. And it is Jesus Christ. All else is seen, done, and known rightly from with Him. And in this world, He is not stationary.