It’s been a week and my scars are fading. Still, I cannot look at my hands without being reminded of the One who is known by His scars.
In so many ways I am still nothing like Him. He chose the scars. He knew in advance what love would cost and gladly laid down His life out of loving submission to the Father and for the joy of relationship with us. Yet, I cannot deny that my scars were also born of love and all love is born of God, so even as my soul cried out in protest that I would have to struggle when I desired smooth sailing, I recognize that these every day moments teach me what formation into His image really means.
It started last Tuesday; my pondering of scars. It was nine forty-five in the morning; just fifteen minutes before leaving my apartment to catch the plane that would carry me far away from my adopted home of Hungary.
I put the travel harnesses on my cats amid jackhammers and drills and the construction noise that engulfed my flat. I turned away briefly to say goodbye to a friend and in that moment it all fell apart. Frightened by the noise, annoyed by the harness, sensing that something unpleasant was in the air, my cat Gus somehow got tangled up in his harness and went into full panic mode.
I can’t blame him. He’s a cat. He had an animal response…stop the pain at all costs. Throwing himself around the room, attacking everything in sight while he struggled against the bonds that suffocated him, he reacted in a completely natural manner.
[I, on the other hand, do bear the blame for my sin. Made in the image of God with the ability to choose, why do I so often react in the exact same way? I often reject everything true and refuse to submit desiring only to stop the pain at all costs.]
When I finally cornered Gus with both my body and a large pillow, I set about trying to free him from the tangled mess that he had made of his harness. But the relief from his pain wasn’t instantaneous. I had to twist and turn and manipulate him through the pain to set him free. He responded with fierce self-protection. Blinded by the pain he lashed out, digging teeth and claws into my hands, arms and legs. When the work was complete and he finally found himself free from bondage he hissed and growled and spit and caterwauled for the next hour while I tried to everything I knew to get him into his carrier so we wouldn’t miss our flight.
I couldn’t stop crying. I cried for him. I cried for his pain. I cried for his fear. I hated that he was too afraid to trust me. I hated that he so thoroughly rejected the carrier that would take him to a safe place away from the scary noises and empty apartment associated with his pain.
And I cried for me. I cried for my wounds. I cried out of my exhaustion. I cried for the loss that I had processed and the loss that I hadn’t come to terms with, both of which I felt profoundly in this moment of emotional weakness. Further, I cried for my selfish soul that said that this love I have for my pet isn’t worth the cost.
Oh, the love of God. How great is the love that knew completely all that He would suffer yet would not be deterred by the cost. When the Father looked out from eternity past He saw me and He said, “Son, see that one? She will be wounded by sin and she will act out of all the evil in her soul. She will be determined to protect herself from pain. She will even blame you for the pain she feels. She will bring you scars. She will bring you death. But I love her. I love her and will pay any price for her redemption. Will you go and rescue her for me?”
My scars were born out of imperfect love and they are fading.
But there is one whose love is perfect and He will bear the scars of that love for all eternity. He forgives me, the one who deliberately chose sin and rebellion. He loves me, the one who continues to do battle with a desire for self-protection (not truly understanding how such protection brings death to my soul). He lavishes love and grace on me, the one who so often rails at Him for not instantly removing every source of pain. He loves to walk close with me, the one who does not recognize the sacrifice He makes as He walks with me into the pain. He was wounded for me.
He chose the scars.
Oh, the love of God.
The Lamb that was slain is worthy of all my worship and all my praise and the absolute surrender of my life to live in the constant awareness of His love, becoming myself, a vessel of that love to the world.
My scars are fading.
Bloody gashes are becoming thin pink lines,
but I hope they forever remind me of the Love that bore the scars for me.
And in case you were wondering…
I did make it to the airport, cats and all.
And we all made it to Florida.
God gave me a gift in Krisztina who traveled with me, carrying things I couldn’t carry with my injured hands and whose joy has been a balm to my soul over this past week.
I would have never planned to leave Budapest in a rush of pain and tears, but I have much for which to be thankful, blessings, even amid the scars.