Scars that Heal
“Will you let me wound you?”
Sitting in my chair, journal open with the bright, spring sun streaming in, I tried to understand the words I had just heard whispered to my heart. God often speaks to me in questions.
That very morning I was processing my upcoming procedure and the scar that would result. In a couple of days I was going to have an excision for melanoma and I was feeling frustrated and a bit embarrassed by the large, visible scar that would follow. I have quite a collection of scars already from the dermatologist, but this one going to be much worse. I couldn’t help but wonder how many more of these scars I would have to have.
After those words were spoken, I began to understand what He was asking. He was asking for a practice of daily repentance from me. In the tradition I grew up in, repentance was something you did when you gave your life to God, offended someone or offended God. I had always kind of felt the practice of daily repentance that other traditions follow were a bit arbitrary and maybe slightly unnecessary, but I am finding there is an important truth I didn’t understand. Daily repentance is healing, preventative and restorative.
My scar is unpleasant, but it is good. The scar is redemptive. It represents a cancer that wasn’t allowed to spread and a life that gets to be lived. It wounded me, but it didn’t harm me. Had I not been willing to be wounded, I would have been harmed and something that could have been easily prevented by a skilled doctor’s hand would have wreaked havoc in my life and probably eventually taken it. I didn’t go to the dermatologist because I thought I had cancer. I had wrongly assumed there wasn’t any since I saw nothing concerning. I went to the dermatologist regularly so that IF there was cancer, it would be found. I needed her eyes to see what I could not.
I began to understand what He was asking. The cancer of sin often spreads in our lives unchecked. We don’t even notice it until we begin to act on it. A small jealous thought eventually turns into a strained friendship, an angry thought turns into gossip, an offense from a spouse adds one more brick to an ever-growing wall, unchecked thoughts turn to bitterness, a condescending thought turns into growing pride and before we know it we are acting in ways we ourselves are surprised by and don’t understand.
We repent of the action or the offense but fail to see that the problem is so much deeper and started out undetected by us. We try to get rid of the symptoms, but the real source is often undealt with. Because of that, we often find ourselves in a pattern of behavior that causes us pain and pain for those around us. Sometimes we can get into a cycle of repeatedly doing what we do not want to do. The cancer of sin has grown large and infiltrated much of our lives.
Sin in us begins in such a small way, it is often easy to ignore or completely undetected by us. We usually can’t see it in ourselves in its earliest stages and we need the eyes of a loving God to notice where wrong ways of being or doing life are beginning in us. Before we are even aware something is growing, He can see it in us. He invites us to come to Him with a willingness to repent of whatever He shows us so that He can take it from us.
I am learning we don’t just come when we know we need to repent, but rather come to Him to ask what we need to repent for. Afterall, He can see what we cannot. He knows us better than we know ourselves and that’s a comforting thought because He loves us far more than we love ourselves. When we make a practice of coming to Him daily with our hearts open wide, He can show us where there are places in us that are unlike Him. Sin can be caught at thought level instead of action level where it has already caused heartache or hurt and become ingrained in us. Early stage sin is much more easily dealt with than late stage sin.
The thing is, repentance is hard. Not very many of us like to be vulnerable with our ugly places and we would rather just go on with our lives and ignore those areas in us. Not only that, but it can be intimidating to find there are things lurking below the surface we do not see. A healthy life with God always involves repentance, otherwise we are living according to our own wisdom and what WE think is right and become blind to our own harmful ways of doing life.
We can trust Him with our hearts daily because He already proved He knows what to do about sin that may be there. He wants to heal, restore and redeem those places in us, but we must come to Him and pray with David, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me to the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23-2
Will you let Him wound you? (Proverbs 27:5 Faithful are the wounds of a friend)
O Lord, as long as I am apart from you, I am self-satisfied, because I have no standard by which to measure my low stature. But when I come near to you, there for the first time I see myself. In your light I behold my darkness. In your purity I behold my corruption. My very confession of sin is the fruit of holiness. Oh! Divine Man, let me gaze on you more and more until, in the vision of your brightness, I loathe the sight of my impurity; until, in the blaze of that glory which human eye has not seen, I fall prostrate, blinded, broken, to rise again a new man in you. Amen.