Biopsies, Bandages and Sin

This week I had to have a biopsy done on an area that was of concern to my doctor. I was going in for a routine check-up and to ask about something in particular. This biopsy popped up out of no where once she did her check and it was a little startling. Biopsies are routine obviously as I have chatted with a couple of people about them since then, but let me tell you, I was not prepared for the slicing out of part of myself to then be looked at to determine if it was cancerous.

Nope. Not in the least.

I have a sheet of instructions for the next week or so to care for the area that was sliced, and let me tell you, it still hurts.

As I was re-bandaging the place this morning it got me to thinking about the unrealized areas of ourselves that often need to be sliced and put under a magnifying glass for review. Areas we weren’t expecting to get addressed but are brought to our attention rather suddenly and often hurt to have even a small amount removed for further examination.

We can be deceptively content with the comfort we find ourselves in-settled in the routines of life, only to be jarred with the painful revelation that all is not fine within us, whether it is our attitude, our words, our thoughts, our job, our relationships, our home, our hearts. So quickly it needs to be dug into, magnified and dissected to see if there’s a cancerous piece infecting it. It can be small and unassuming but when sin wiggles it’s way into those areas, it will spread and eat away from within.

So we allow God to reveal the deep down root of the sin in these areas, and then begin to apply healing to them. Slowly and deliberately, taking great care to see the cause of it in our lives and setting about through Him to remove it. Not just the spot, but the deep-seeded root of it. Then we seek out the balm and healing that only He can fully cover us in. It won’t be immediate, there will be waiting and echoes of the pain still there. But there will be lasting healing, there will be a space that once was eating away at us that is now filled with Him, His grace, His love, His forgiveness…with Him alone.

So maybe today we sit with our bandages, from where we have allowed Him to dig out the sin within, where we have examined what was within us and brought it to Him to dispose of. Bandages are not to be embarassments, they are proof of healing, proof of our weakness and inability to do it ourselves. Bandages show we are dependent upon something greater for healing, for restoration, for refuge. We wear them, not in shame but as evidence of His work in us.

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

I am not sure there’s a verse that has been more studied or dug into in my life than that one above. I look at different versions, commentaries and pray over it practically daily.

The heart defines your life. It is your character, the overflow of what you are filling your life with. And yet, it can be easily broken, hurt and captured if you aren’t careful.

Diligence requires alertness, awareness, and steadfast watch. It means a constancy of guarding of this fragile heart, prone to wander, prone to idolize, prone to desire.

Oh this heart…you are the complete package of will, affections, mind and thought. You are the cause of actions in my life, and the lives of others. If we aren’t on watch, with a strict eye, sometimes things/people/satan slip in through an avenue undetected. We are caught unawares in the midst of hurt, pain, sin.

So we come back here. To the place where our heart first felt whole…to bring the broken to be mended, the wounded to be healed. We come back to the place where we find that we have another Guard, with our good in mind, His strength made available. We come not to ask but to give.

To leave this heart here for Him. To live in constancy of a heart that is full of Him and not us. A heart that desires after the things of Him and not our whims and affections. A heart diligent in the work set before it.

A heart guarded above all else to flow out with love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…a heart whole in Him.

When God has forgiven me of so much, what right do I have to withhold it from anyone else?

Such a convicting quote, but something so hard to live out. Am I right? When the person has hurt you so deeply, the wounds leave scars for a lifetime. When someone intentionally seeks to harm you. When they don’t seem even remotely responsible to themselves for the harm they have done.

How do you forgive that?

How do you let go of the unforgiveness in order to begin to heal for yourself? For your relationship with God?

I wish I had the easy, three step answer my friends. Believe me I do. I sit here in the hard place with a friend, who is wrestling with this. I find that the moment I my pride rears up that “I have forgiven” I am reminded that I haven’t let go of this thing, or those words. In my selfish state I think that out of the hard should come the easy. That I give forgiveness and it’s done.

But so rarely is that the case. and I mean rarely.

I keep coming back to Christ’s words, as He bore all the words, actions and hate of the world in order to give forgiveness for it. He was giving it when I didn’t deserve it, nor was I asking for it. And it was a hard thing. It wasn’t easy to go to the cross. His struggle in the garden shows us that. He was seeing the flesh battle the call by God, knowing God’s will for Him was to sacrifice, to be in the hard, and to walk this road to show us the journey of freedom in forgiveness.

It means digging into time with Him. It means bringing along your trusted friends (even if they fall asleep on you). It means bearing the brunt of the battle of flesh and Spirit to know forgiveness. For yourself. For the other person(s).

It means knowing, and trusting, that forgiveness comes even when “they know not what they do.”

Ripping the Bandage Off

Band-aid on hand isloated  white background.

As a kid, I think we can all agree, that taking a bandage off was kind of the worst. I think it hurt more than the scrape or cut sometimes when you would have to pull that off an arm or leg. In high school I had to have a couple of stitches in my shin and I can recall with clarity the bandage tape was more painful than getting the stitches out.

By far though I think emotional bandages are harder to take off. The pain and deep cuts underneath that bandage reveal our worst times of life. Times of loss, depression, addiction and brokenness. Pulling that bandage back means we are letting it breathe, we are taking the first step to acknowledge it is there and we are healing.

Sometimes it can catch us by surprise, and just like mom would say, “If I do it quickly, it won’t hurt as much.” I think that’s true to some extent. When we’ve been hurt or faced something that has cut us deep we need that initial time to bandage up and prevent infection in our lives. We tend to the wound and hopefully rest from life. We pull back and examine the events that led to the wounding.

But, just like our physical cuts and scrapes, if we don’t pull back that bandage and reassess, after a while the wound festers. It can get infected by the closing off of life. If we remove ourselves, bandaging up and dwelling on the wound for too long infections of life set in. Pride, ego, anger, bitterness, self-doubt. All these things will set up and spread throughout the person.

The anticipation of ripping off the bandage can be worse than it actually happening. Whether that means addressing the issue in yourself, facing those who have hurt you deep, or simply giving forgiveness it can be a difficult task mentally and emotionally to pull that off. I know for me, that if I hold onto unforgiveness with that wound, it will simply because such an infection that it pervades every piece of my life til there is no peace and simply an ugly, venom spewing existence.

Is it easy to rip off that bandage of emotional hurt?

Absolutely not.

In fact, I can say from very recent experience, that had I not prayed and sought wise counsel on it, I wouldn’t have been able to rip it off when I did. I am for certain that it would have begun to fester had the opportunity to address the wound and see the healing from it not presented itself when it did. We can grow anxious about pulling back the bandage or we can know that “in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, (we can) let our requests be known to God” and there we find peace that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:5-7)

Let me also share that while you may pull back that bandage, there may still be the need for healing to continue. You may need to redress and rebandage, even after pronounced healing has occurred. It’ll mean being watchful that your emotions are not controlling you through that hurt, but that you are giving way to continued growth and renewal from the wound. It’s also not an overnight, or even in a few weeks, healing. For many it’s weeks, months, and years.

Sometimes that wound gets reopened and cut deeper. Each time it gives place for healing to come and peace to invade when we let go of the anxiety of the bandage coming off.

Tending the Fruit

I have managed over the last few weeks to not kill a plant I bought. That is saying alot as I am prone to having a black thumb. As a part of my One Word for 2014 (GROW) I chose April to work on growing something physically. I grabbed a plant and off I went. Saturday I re-potted the plant along with a new one I purchased to go with the one I was currently tending to in the container it came in.

Maybe it’s not until you hone in on one thing that you begin to notice it all around you. In tending the plants, I saw how others were caring for theirs as well. I was intentional when I picked out marigolds to plant, that I get the ones which weren’t at full bloom but were still sprouting up, so that I could get the most of them for this spring/summer. I watched other budding gardeners pick out their plants and found I felt quite accomplished.

Buying plants isn’t just a one and done thing. You cannot just plant them and walk away. There is a commitment to care for them, as there would be for any other thing that is alive and growing in life.

It is true for my own life as well. Recently there has been alot of hurt and pulling inward. I was finding much of it relatively difficult to understand and navigate through. Then as I considered the parallels of my life with my new interest in gardening I could not help but see John 15:2(b):

“and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

For myself, I bear fruit for a season, but it is necessary to go through pruning after bearing fruit in order to grow and produce more. Do I enjoy the pruning? Absolutely not. Do I recognize it as pruning? Most often, no. I see it as circumstance happening to me, instead of for me.

Part of the reason one prunes a tree is to shape it for design purposes. While it is a difficult, and all too often painful process, pruning allows me to be shaped for His design. Something that I forget when I am in my circumstance, in the mire of emotion and doubt. His pruning is ultimately for my good as a fruit-bearer. Because as I bear out the fruit He receives the glory, as I cannot bear fruit alone.

In what areas is God pruning you back to bear fruit? How can your circumstances be seen differently today through your perspective as the tree/vine?

Suffering and Rescue

This week alone I have gotten messages, texts, and phone calls about various people at different degrees of hurt and suffering. It ranges from health, to the passing of a friend, to work woes.

Far too often, we bypass the recognition of suffering. We attempt too easily to push past it, with encouraging words or changing of perspectives. I still am unsure where I stand on the process of suffering, as I too am not a fan of it when I am in it.

I don’t find it a chance of fate that I read specifically on it today during my Bible study. I think God plans this way in advance, to lay out words to fill us and to remind us of who He is in the moment of suffering. The study points out that the word for rescue in the Bible has a very distinct meaning in the original translation. It not only means to “draw or snatch from danger, rescue, deliver” but it goes just a step beyond to this: This is more with the meaning of drawing to oneself than merely rescuing from someone or something.*

photo courtesy of fanpop.com
photo courtesy of fanpop.com

It’s not God delivering us from suffering, but also pulling us close to Him. I have the image in my mind of a full embrace of two people where one is fully engulfed by the other. That’s what this meaning is now attached to in my mind in moments of suffering. It’s never forgetting that people and places may disappoint me, may hurt me, but my God remains the same in it all. For me, He uses suffering and hardships to remind me that my view should not change of Him even when my views change about everything else.

 

And while there may be pain in the night, joy (and mercy and grace) are on their way…