It Wasn’t Nails That Held Him to the Cross

“No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?”
-Amy Carmichael

No one makes it through this life without scars.  Not even Jesus.

I entered this world with multiple birth defects. I was missing my left leg, hip and kidney and had many other congenital problems all requiring 23 surgeries by the age of 13 . My body is crisscrossed with their incision marks.  I wouldn’t be alive without them.  These scars stand for healing that looked like incredible medical intervention.

Then there are the scars that can’t be seen.  The betrayals, the disappointments, the losses, the abuse, the hard things of this fallen world that puncture our hearts and rip at our souls.  Scarred stories of survival and strength to forgive and let the things meant to destroy us become the very things that make us most dangerous to darkness.

This last season was one of incredible loss for me personally and it has only been the nail prints in Jesus’ hands that have held me together through its fury. I expected to live the rest of my life raising the children rescued through the project I started in South Sudan.  There was no plan B.  I never expected to live anywhere else.

But after almost 7 years of establishing the base in incredibly adverse conditions and 18 rounds of cerebral malaria, my health crashed completely forcing a move I never would have chosen.

Transitions are always hard. This one was brutal.  False accusations, betrayals of trust, watching my life be forcibly uprooted from dreams and relationships.  It was like losing 130+ children, many of my friends, people I trusted to have my back, much of my purpose, my health, my home & my livelihood all at one time.  The grief of it sometimes crushed the very breath from my lungs.  I spent most of the 18 months just trying to keep breathing.

But I was not one second ever alone. Jesus was alone on the cross so no matter what I walk through here, not matter what you walk through here, no matter how hard or difficult or unfair or painful… We are and will never be alone.  Jesus paid the price of being alone so we never will be.

It was love that pierced the hands and feet of Jesus, not nails.  If we choose to walk in His love, we too will have scars.  Betrayal will come. Pain will come.  Being misunderstood, accused and cursed at.  It all rips open wounds in our soul. But what if those ripped, torn places become the thin places to see through to heaven?  What if the crushing becomes a place of communion?  What if those marks remind us even if everyone we love walked away, He never would?

I may be scarred in this life but I will not be marred by it.  Jesus was marred in love for me so my scars would only be reminders of His overcoming grace. In this story Calvary is always followed by death being left an empty tomb.

Scars remind us of where we have been, they don’t have to dictate where we are going.  What’s behind us doesn’t have to define us when we let it refine us.

So thank Him for my scars.  I rejoice in the painful, stretching, even shattering seasons.  I would not know Him like I do or be who I am without them.  That perspective changes everything.

I do not believe God sends sickness or harm to us.  Ever.  But I do have a radical, fundamental belief in His ultimate power to redeem it all.  Every loss that colors our world.  Every pain that shades our experience.  Every betrayal that casts shadows on our journey.  Every time choosing Him, choosing love costs us a price few will ever understand, let alone see.  He sees. He knows.

Suddenly that which has broken us becomes a place of beauty forged right in the fire of our struggle and we step in to the fellowship of His love-scars we could not have entered into any other way.  There, every scar is precious. There, gold is spun from our scarred stories flung hard into the wide open arms of Grace.  There, God never wastes our pain.

This week as we look toward the garden and the cross and watch the worshiping crowds become angry mobs… As we journey through communion and loss, betrayal and pain, resurrection hope and love-pierced hands and feet, let us remember together.  Let us celebrate His scars that pour healing and purpose into our own.

Always, beloved.  You are loved.

Where do you need to see Jesus this week?

10 Comments

  1. Danielle Wheeler March 29, 2015

    Michele, this post is one to read over and over.  So much richness in each line.  Thank you so much for your words and for the story of redemption that you live.

    1. Michele March 30, 2015

      Danielle, so humbled and grateful.  It is a joy to be here with you all this week!

  2. Beth Everett March 30, 2015

    I echo Danielle’s words … thank you for such a meaningful post, Michele.

  3. Carrie Wallestad March 30, 2015

    Michele, thank you so much for your consistency in letting Jesus shine through your broken places.  I am thankful for you and all the ways you let Him get glory in your life when you could easily choose otherwise.  You continue to disciple me and many others through your Jesus-trusting honesty.  Over here, I am just now starting to understand what Paul meant about boasting in weakness.  The shame of my own recent brokenness has been stripped away and now I want any who pass by to know – Jesus is strong even when I have been foolishly weak.

  4. Anna March 30, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your story.  I strongly agree that God redeems everything.  That gives us HOPE in the midst of it all.

    I’ve always struggled to “count it all joy” when you receive trials.  But I am slowly learning to thank God for the problems.  At first, I could thank Him for the lessons learned after the fact.  Now I am starting to appreciate the process- at least a tiny bit. Mostly I would still just like things to be easy, but I don’t want to give up the lessons learned or the hard won maturity.  Those things wouldn’t be there without the struggles.

    To answer your question at the end, I feel like I have seen Jesus already this weekend.   When he brings me to a place of complete dependence on Him, I am more able to see His provision in even the smallest aspects of life.

    1. Anna March 30, 2015

      Sorry.  Trying to add a profile picture.  Didn’t mean for it to show up so huge.  🙂

  5. MaDonna March 31, 2015

    Scarred stories of survival and strength to forgive and let the things meant to destroy us become the very things that make us most dangerous to darkness.”

    Loved that! Thanks for sharing today – was really encouraged by your story and praying that God continues to work in and through you as you never expected.

  6. Cecily March 31, 2015

    Thanks, Michele, for sharing the struggle.  I am in the aftermath of a broken friendship.  I know that I didn’t handle myself rightly, and I am ashamed.  But in all the wrongness, I just wanted to connect, for the friendship to last.  I am ashamed that my desire to connect was met with rejection.  It is a hard pill to swallow, but I am so thankful for your words to remind me that what happened in the past needn’t define me if I let it refine me.  The one thing Jesus keeps saying to me is, “Keep your heart soft.  I know it hurts, but don’t be afraid of the pain and the tears.  Dare to be vulnerable.”

  7. Julie Sunne March 31, 2015

    Wow, such hope in your words, Michele. God bless you!

  8. Monica F April 3, 2015

    Thank you for this beautiful post, and specifically these beautiful words:

    I do not believe God sends sickness or harm to us.  Ever.  But I do have a radical, fundamental belief in His ultimate power to redeem it all.  Every loss that colors our world.  Every pain that shades our experience.  Every betrayal that casts shadows on our journey.  Every time choosing Him, choosing love costs us a price few will ever understand, let alone see.  He sees. He knows.

    Thank you for sharing your scars with me through this post, and reminding me that my past scars don’t dictate my future.  I have read this so many times, and have passed it on to other friends as well.  And 18 rounds of cerebral malaria- wow, I hope your body is healing from all of that!  I had it only 3 times and it wreaked havoc on my body- still dealing with the fallout, ten years later.  God bless you!

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