A few days ago, I was reading in Dr. Paul Brand’s Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image and stumbled upon a few simple words that wrapped me in compassion. Dr. Brand spoke of the hormonal changes that begin in eleven year old girls. And suddenly I could receive that little girl I once was, the one who began to harden her heart in distrust, with the deep compassion and mercy of Jesus.
I was eleven when I began watching my beloved little brother be taken away to be physically punished. Again and again, I heard the lashes and heard his cries, as my whole body convulsed with wave upon wave trauma I could not unravel or put into words.
Those I trusted most told me this was God’s will, as the Son of God’s heart in me cried out for a mercy and compassion for this little traumatized adopted boy, who knew not what he did. This little boy who rebelled and turned away those he loved the most, again and again, not being able to receive what he did not trust would remain. Just as his biological parents and five biological brothers and sisters did not remain, but left him as a tiny baby in an orphanage in Romania.
I felt the deep pain hidden in his little heart, as memories of holding him close to my heart in the orphanage in Romania and visiting his impoverished birth family and seeing his birth mother weep uncontrollably, flashed before my eyes. And I so longed for my parents to see what I could.
But when I spoke up to defend him from the lashes, I was turned away. And so, began my own journey of struggling to trust – not only my parents – but my God – with my broken heart. As repeatedly I sought a way to sneak in and visit my little brother in his room to hug him tight after the lashes. As I learnt to hide the weeping heart of Jesus in me, turning to sin to numb the pain and deny my weakness and need.
But as those few simple words returned to me about eleven year old girls and the changes to their bodies, another layer of condemnation lifted away. I looked straight into the eyes of Jesus and saw what He did that day, as He looked into my little eleven-year-old eyes.
I saw what He did, as He looked into my eyes in the days and long years to come, as I began to turn my back on Him and hide the terrifying fear and the deep, deep pain coursing through my body. I saw what He did, as I learnt to live in a constant state of hypervigilance, the stress hormone cortisal becoming my constant companion. I saw what He did, when in His kindness, He took me overseas, far from the triggers, to bring my body relief. I saw what He did, when He decided it was time for me to heal, to walk through the triggers afresh, to taste His healing love, truth and grace for me.
All those years ago and in every moment since, Jesus saw Himself, when He looked at me. He saw His own heart pumping fresh and clean blood through me, growing me, stretching me and laboring in me that I might learn to receive Him and pour Him out freely.
Jesus saw how one day, I would take those few simple words I read as an almost 41-year-old and turn them into a blessing for my own eleven year old. He saw how that blessing He would speak through me for another would become His blessing of me. His kindness for me. His grace for me. His healing hand upon me.
And, He saw how that blessing would return to me yet again, as the triggers of trauma returned and I was the one blinded in my sin and pushing away His kindness, all over again. He saw how His compassion would move me to repentance, to look into the mirror again, to see not my natural face reflected there, but the face of my Jesus looking back at me.
To see the face of the One who is taking ahold of my little girl hand and walking me into His grace and His healing, each day afresh. Of the One who is propelling me to confess my weakness and my need for Him, again and again. Of the One who is empowering me to trust in His grace for me, to confess my sins and to seek the forgiveness of others for the pain I have inflicted upon them, trusting that He will put right and heal and complete what I cannot .
To see the face of the One who is daily reminding me and persuading me to believe that love truly does cover over a multitude of sins, and heal a million hurts. To see the face of the Mighty and Holy One who is in my midst, a mighty one who is saving me; who is rejoicing over me with gladness; who is quieting me by his love; who is exulting over me with loud singing. To see Jesus – my endless fountain of grace gushing over me, washing me clean, declaring me, and others through me, His beloved grafted-in and adopted child, Son and heir.
“Pruning is not punishment. Pruning is the reward of having something of value. He wouldn’t prune you, if you were a dying bush…He prunes you because you’re fruitful…
God doesn’t cut to kill us. He cuts to heal us…We cannot see what God can see. We can see to the corner, but God can see around the corner…It’s okay to be scared. You can have fear and faith at the same time…God knows what you need, even when you don’t like what you need.”TD Jakes (https://youtu.be/Z2cUITwF9qk)
We can perservere because our God is steadfast and immovable for us, in us and through us. No matter what comes our way, He shall hold us fast. Because He is our Way – He is the One confirming us, preparing us, making us steadfast, immovable and true to His Word.
Romans 14:4 (NIV, my emphasis) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Yes, He alone is our deliverance, our restoration and our redemption, our all.
Psalm 59:16 ESV But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.