A Story You’ll Use: Scars Part I

 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

John 20:17

Listen for The Voice. Not a voice.

These last couple of weeks have been a blur, on a personal level my schedule consisted of finishing my current degree program, making arrangements for the next steps in my new degree program and discerning God’s will pertaining to the direction in which I needed to walk this summer concerning internship and career opportunities.

And of course celebrating Easter.

As I was going through the processes listed above my first and foremost thoughts were tempted to revolve around what I am not. I am not qualified. I am not done. I am not ready. I am not sure.

I had and have these great dreams of doing these great things. (Not earth shattering great things, but personally world shaking great things). The things I have deemed would be great to do. The purpose I believe God may have created me for, what motivates and inspires me. My dreams.

But there is something about those next steps.

Taking the next step is absolutely terrifying.

Taking the next step is all we want to do, all we plan for, all we patiently train and study and move toward…

But when we reach that threshold there is this moment.

A moment of complete vulnerability as we realize this next step will not only reveal the strengths we have carefully crafted, but the weaknesses we have yet to uncover and develop.

The path has changed so many times before. I have no doubt that it will continue to take unexpected turns. Unfortunately I have not been able to convince God to hand over the map- not even to let me get a quick glance.

So in the middle of the chaos of life and choices and unworthiness and vulnerability-

Easter broke me.

Easter shattered everything. Easter shatters every prerequisite, every sensible and rational doubt or reasoning.

Easter is the epitome of the impossible, improbable and impractical. Defined by love more powerful than the depths of Hell and by a mission not even satan could foretell.

Easter reminds us that we don’t have to be qualified. We don’t have to know the answers. We don’t have to be ready. And we don’t have to go alone. He will qualify us, He knows the answers, He is ready and He is already there and right beside us.

Standing in the threshold is like the dawn of Easter morning. Coming out of the dark into the light. Behind you is where you’ve been and ahead of you is what is next.

And you may not know exactly what that day is going to bring and you may feel as if you had all the wrong answers and you may be fighting doubt and fear and despair and remembering “better” (aka safer) days but…

What is on the other side is so brilliantly and dazzlingly worth it, something that you yourself never could have imagined in your wildest dreams.

How do we know this? Amid everyday, ordinary life, how do we know that something as simple and complex as taking the next step will ultimately lead to something so awe-inspiring and wonderful?

Because He has called our name.

Just as He called Mary’s. Mary who had just come through the darkest night.

Mary who I am willing to bet was surrounded by voices telling her all she’d believed, all she held true, all she’d trained for was wrong. Mary who was surrounded by those waiting to crush her.

Can you imagine? I am sure that between Friday and Sunday morning, more than once the enemy had come against her, that the enemy had attempted to put visions of all the stones being picked back up in her head. As she clung to Jesus words, I do not condemn you either. I love you. You are worthy, not because of what you have done or who you are, but because of who I am and what I have done.

Easter reminded me to look closer when I was tempted to look back.

Because amid all of the failed paths and unexpected turns, I can see how it has all shaped me and brought me to exactly where I am now. I can see the story that they’ve crafted and I can recognize that had those paths gone the way I had planned it may have been good, but the story would not be nearly as great as the one I am in now.

And as much as I love a good story, only God knows what it means to me to be part of His Great story which we have only yet begun to grasp.

There is a song by I Am They titled Scars. The beginning includes the lyrics:

“Cause my brokenness brought me to You/
And these wounds are a story You’ll use”

God used Jesus’ scars to tell the greatest story. And that story has not ended…

As I set aside all the doubts and questions and replace them with the memories of the times He has done all He has promised…

He qualifies me. He strengthens me. He enables me. He calls me.

And the scars? Those twisted paths? Those thresholds?

They’re apart of the greatest story, one we have not yet fully imagined.

 

 

But Can He?

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.”

2 Timothy 2:13

I shouldn’t have, I should have.

I know that, I feel this.

The sky’s falling versus the pieces are falling into place.

Those moments when it seems as if the “to be done” list is always longer than the “done” list and it feels as if time is flying yet it is taking its time to heal. Every day you wake and look forward but cannot help and catch a reflection of yesterday. Remembering some of the wins, recounting all of the losses.

Filled with faith but yet… not always convinced.

Not that I doubt God’s faithfulness of course, but my own.

At the end of the day when I recall those moments when I know I could have said something better or done something more. Those moments of weakness when I broke the promise to myself to wake up at this time or to not do that. Simple tasks such as eating better or sticking to my budget or to a schedule of any sort (such as writing this blog post).

And those are just the “small” things.

How can I profess to be faith filled when I struggle daily with being faithful? If I can’t make it through an overall mild Tuesday, what would make me believe I could survive the earth shattering and heart crushing days when more than my daily resources and time allotments are on the line?

Laying down at the end of the day and wondering can a God that good really love a person like me?

All of the doubts.

All of the fears.

All of the sticky situations.

When I knew better and when I didn’t.

When the tears come and despair knocks and the waves rise and the wind howls.

And I am thanking God again and again for every blessing, although… all the while knowing I have more to say. The reality being that He also knows I have more to say.

In this world it feels as if we are continually encouraged and tempted to hide whatever faults we have, whatever troubles we are carrying. Grin and bear it, if you will.

Don’t tell anyone that you struggle with that. Don’t suggest you’ve messed up. And don’t you dare admit you’re scared. Just leave it, it’s fine. Meanwhile, whatever it is grows bigger and eventually its darkness starts to envelop your life, primarily internally and eventually externally.

I didn’t see this coming. How did this happen? Who would have guessed?

God. God knew. God saw it coming. And?

He’s not surprised.  He saw the storm coming before it was on the horizon.

He reached out to catch me before I began to fall.

And He is kneeling beside me as I get up the courage to look up.

Because the beautiful, outrageous truth is – even when I am faithless, He is faithful.

You see, the problem is a part of me at times forgets that God- the Creator of the Universe and everything in it- is able to handle my honesty. From the little bits to the boulders.

He can handle the fact that at times my heart hurts, that sometimes I struggle and still sometimes I fall.

He can handle the fact that even though I know who He is and believe in all of His promises and rely solely on His truths, I do not always act accordingly.

He can handle the tantrums and the scars and that I am not perfect.

Because He is.

And so long as I am willing to bring it all to Him, every messy piece I’d rather hide, I can handle it too.

There is a song and one of the lines in the chorus reads, Show me that You can handle my honesty. The whole song is wonderful, but that line sealed it for me the day I heard it.

Those words, that question, at first hit me and opened a prayer. Words I wanted to scream at the top of lungs in the moment and at the same time hesitated to whisper. I wasn’t sure I could handle my own honesty most days.

However, as quickly as that prayer opened so did several recollections of the times God in fact did show that He could handle my honesty. He who is always faithful had never turned His back on me, not even once, no matter how reluctant I was to let Him in and let Him see just how messy it was.

Those words reminded me that not only can God handle my honesty, but He embraces it.

And I hope this post serves as a Public Service Announcement because He can handle your honesty too. Every hard question and unspoken horror and hidden sorrow.

You will find that when you let go and spill everything to God – you can handle it too.

She spent time with God and that is what made her lovely.

It wasn’t that she was perfect, always made the right choices and never had a single doubt or fear.

The secret has always been that she spent time with God… and unloaded every hurting and ruined bit. She gave Him the ashes and in turn He built them into something more beautiful than could ever be imagined.

The take aways from all this:

He created me.

He loves me.

And He can handle me.

In response to the question posed by Mikeschair- Grace was made for people like me.

** Song by Mikeschair, Title: People Like Me