“But have you taken on their wounds yet?” I want to whisper, want to caution, when I hear others talk about how much they love the children and families at The Bridge, or in that country where they did a mission trip, or in the classroom they helped out in.
No wounds yet? Then wait a bit more. Stay close. These things take time.
Because, truth is, I’ll never forget my own naive love, and I wish someone would’ve gently talked me through it. Maybe then I wouldn’t have crumbled inside when I stood at the end of the driveway, watching that fear-filled child walk home to an angry parent. I knew what was about to happen, and I couldn’t stop the pain. It broke me in many places. And I’m not sure my heart recovered or if it even should.
Building relational bridges means enduring heartbreak and learning to surrender it to God.
It’s an easy line to read, I know. But living it out causes bleeding and gasping and sleepless nights for our souls.
That particular night I couldn’t rest. I had to report what I knew, yet doing so offered little peace of mind.
But, in this we find hope: when another’s wounds begin to wound us, then we can be assured that the Gospel is taking on flesh before our eyes. We’re living it then. Because Jesus offered His body to a world of hurt and afflicted souls. He didn’t proclaim from a distance. He didn’t move on after a few days.
He wrapped up His majesty under a bare back that would accept beatings, and in calloused hands that would accept nails, and eyes which would cry, and a mouth that would call out – as He was wounded on our behalf, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When another’s wounds begin to wound us, then we begin to understand Jesus.
But it’s not enough to simply enter in to the pain of another soul. We can’t stay there, wallowing and taking up space in their trench because misery loves company.
In that moment, Jesus called out to His Father and He surrendered – His breath and plans and life. Friends, we are called to no less. Surrendering may mean a release from the anxiety and lack of control in a given situation. Surrendering may mean trusting God to be where we can’t and to do what we can’t. Surrendering may mean making difficult calls to authorities or parents and allowing God to work out consequences.
But those actions happen after the wounding.
After the wounding.
After the carrying of each other’s burdens. After laying out our bare backs over a situation of abuse. After our hands have stuck in a mess of frustrating immigration paperwork, after our eyes have taken in the sight of neglect, and our mouths have cried out at the injustices.
Building relational bridges means taking on some wounds in order to carry them into divine surrender.
Our wounds become His wounds – and by His wounds we (all) are healed.
Here is post on Surrender that I wrote in April 2014. It’s become a resolution of mine, one I read often:
I spent my first spring and summer
at Seneca Center
fighting against the rain,
stomping in the puddles,
to whisk it all
away – like a windshield wiper
on full speed.
I found myself
in a downpour,
yelling at Heaven
to just stop.
Make it stop.
Why couldn’t it stop?
For the kids’ sake, couldn’t it all
it didn’t stop.
It doesn’t ever
It’s been five springs now,
and it’s still raining,
and it’s much the same rain.
Or maybe it’s crying, really –
teardrops of trauma,
hurt, abuse, pain,
Things that can’t be
but must be overcome,
And I –
a nice enough, well-meaning human-
calm this storm.
But then, one day
stumbled over a heap
red and rugged, it was laid before me.
And, I picked up this umbrella,
although I had believed it meant
acceptance of the injustice.
I guess it had seemed
hang on to it
when I could be working
with these hands.
But I was tired
of fighting the rain,
so dead tired
that I bowed my head
under its covering-
“Peace! Be still!” He said.
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39, 41)
Who is this man
that even the wind and the sea
all obey Him?
It is He, the Lord of all. Yes,
I know His voice. (John 10:4)
His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth. (Psalm 96:4-6)
The Lord of all-
the King of every
Today I know,
God’s not asking me to stop the rain-
not here at Seneca, nor around the world.
He is asking me to share my umbrella
to lift it high
that it may protect
all who bow beneath it.
He’s called me to stand.
After having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13)
and to hold Hope high, stained red
with the sacrifice
of the One who
Lord, give me grace
to stand in this rain
to lift up your name.
Let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)
“Peace, be still,”
He whispers over those
and here I stand,
stilled from my striving
clinging to Him –
this red umbrella,
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
God’s not asking me to stop the rain.
God’s not asking me to stop the rain. He’s asking me to share my umbrella. Click To Tweet
He’s asking me to share my umbrella.
Photo Credit, Ruth Whitmore
This month’s series is on being a bridge-builder. In short, it’s about how to be like certain individuals who let God show up in their words and deeds and forever changed our little family. But, it’s not a series about our story; it’s a series about how Redemption made our story useful, even valuable, in a greater story.
If Jay and I know anything about being a bridge-builder, it’s because we were the ones stuck on an island. If we understand anything about the power of meeting people where they are and standing in the gap, it’s because that’s how we were rescued – by God, through average people.