Of Bumps & Stains…
November 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
“How I wish you could have known me in my strength.” Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Last week, as we prepared to distribute the Lord’s Supper in our first worship service, one of our Elders, a lovely and faithful brother, dropped the trays he was to carry (Amazingly this doesn’t happen weekly by any who distribute the elements, ministers included. The trays are practically designed as ecclesiastical booby traps!).
Actually, they didn’t merely drop – they dropped, bounced and exploded out of his hands and onto my shirt, coat and pants, which meant that with no time to change in between services, I would preach our second with noticeably unfashionable grape blotches.
It’s a peculiar thing to walk around with such stains. At first I self-consciously offered explanations to any whose eyes wandered to the obvious (which was everyone). Few resisted opportunistic playful jabs.
The fact is, we carry our stains, and while most outside of us never detect them (and wouldn’t care if they did), without some intervening grace, we feel compelled to hide. Our own self-consciousness leaves us presuming that we could ever appear clean to the observing world.
This took me to our friend in the hospital that I wrote about a few weeks ago. He was in an accident in which ten of his twelve ribs were broken on the right side, some crushed and beyond surgical repair. Amazingly, doctors inform us that they will self-repair, that his ribs will find their way back to one another. Only they won’t exactly take the shape they had before the wreck. There will be bumps and funky angles involved – but they will heal – completely. And they will work.
With God it is never that we figure out how to escape our stains – or bumps – but that we finally rest in the love of a Father who likes us that way, believing that His repair is what He intended all along. In fact, our true escape is in no longer feeling the need to hide. As with Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh,’ Jacob’s limp and Christ’s scars, the unique contours of our broken lives become the identifying marks of God’s love and triumphs of His grace.
What better news could there be?