Pulled From the Debris – Maimed, but Alive!

2 12 2005

Pulled From the Debris – Maimed, but Alive!

Romans 9:20-21 (NIV) 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)  14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 12:1-3 (NIV) 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

For years I would ask, “Why me?”  Why was I born like this?  Why did I have to be born deformed?  Why am I subjected to teasing, to bullying, to the ridicule and ostracizing that forever scarred me worse than the physical defects of my birth?

Even now, as I relive those thoughts there is a sadness and grief that overcomes me.  <sigh>

But a couple of decades ago, God began to heal me of these thoughts.  It was a slow process and made more difficult by the fact that I had no direct communication with my God.  I had rejected Him and any thought of His leading.  But He continued to love me, pursue me, and draw me closer to Him.  He used a lot of methods since I refused to read the Bible, attend church, or associate with people who knew Him.

But I finally came to the realization that my birth and the circumstances of my deformities are a gift.  It is a long story that I won’t get into here, but this realization made all the difference in my recovery.

There was a time when I couldn’t wait (figuratively speaking) for the resurrection and for eternal life.  For I knew that then I would be made new and I wouldn’t have any more scars – physical or emotional.  But as I continued on the journey of life, it became clear to me that even this was an unnecessary concern.  In fact, I now don’t care.  I don’t see myself determinant on my scars – I see myself in the eyes of Christ.  And in Heaven and the New Earth, if I don’t have scars (at least externally), I’m not sure I would be who I am.

We’re told that Jesus will wear the scars on His hands for eternity, as a reminder of the sacrifice He made.  In the same vein, I’m willing to wear my scars too.  If God saw fit to bring me through the path He chose before I was born, then who am I to complain – especially in light of the text above.

The dysfunctions of my family, the generational curses that have been passed down (addictions, depression, financial fates, spiritual struggles, etc), are all life-killers.  Any one of them could snuff out life in a multitude of ways.  But I see God going out of His way to rescue me – to save me from death.  And He is willing to do whatever it takes to save me.  That’s how much He loves me.  

The answer to the question, why me, is because He loves me.  That is the answer.

The images flowing through my head are coming too fast to write about.  But the analogy that comes to me is that if my daughter were trapped in a burning car, I would be willing to maim her to save her.  I would be willing to mutilate her in order to save her life.  For her life is more important than a mere arm or leg.

I believe God feels the same way about me.  What seemed like senseless mutilation when I was born, may have been a desperate act by a desperate God to save me.  Of course many of the choices I made in response to this were stupid.  Instead of turning to God in desperate pleas of mercy, I ran away from Him and sought refuge in sex, drugs, and a host of other destructive behaviors.  I nearly ended the very life He was trying to save.

So, now in retrospect, what seemed sorry and unfair, now seems loving and passionate.  He pulled me from the abyss of a desperate family situation – the pain, dysfunction, and destiny of a family marred by abuse, addiction, and without hope.  Pulled from the wreckage, I am left alive, but maimed.  But now I live with vision, and hope, and peace, and opportunity.

If God had left me alone, I would most likely have lived a life of quiet, unexamined desperation.  Lost and alone, but ignorant of those fates.

For years I blamed God for maiming me.  Now I praise Him.  Now I understand it when Paul asks, “who are you, O man, to talk back to God?”  Now I understand Job’s struggles.  Now I get it.

I once said to some fellow firefighters, I don’t mind being killed, I just don’t want to be maimed.  Everyone laughed at the simplicity of this statement and some repeated this back to me for years into the future.  They understood the danger of our job and they understood me to say that instant death was preferable to suffering.  The thought of be caught in a collapsed burning building was frightful – especially if there were no hope of being rescued.  

But in light of what I’ve written above, I see another alternative.  That is being rescued.  Yes, being trapped is scary.  Yes, being injured sucks.  Yes, living a life without hope is a horrible thought.  So, yes, being trapped in a life, injured, and without hope of rescue is a horrible thought – and death would be a welcome option.

This is where accepting God’s gift is so awesome.  No longer am I trapped in the dark, hopelessness of a life without meaning.  No longer am I stuck under the debris of family dysfunction.  I am no longer subject to the fate of certain death.  God pulled me from the rubble and as I stand outside the burning building, I begin to realize that I have been saved!  I’m maimed, yes, but I’ve been saved and I will live.

This, I will share with others!

It is so easy to forget a vision of the past – the desperation of my previous life.  I remember a Christmas season in the early 1980s.  I was newly divorced, lonely, desperate, stressed, and busy.  I was crashing through doors without looking.  I didn’t care about the results of my actions because the pain of the present was too great.  I was running in panic from one quick fix to the next.  I had no integrity and I had no hope.  I was willing to sell, nay, give myself to anyone who would offer a moment’s respite from my pain.  It was a miserable Christmas and it left me weeping from numerous self-inflicted wounds.

Now, 24 years later, I sit at peace – understanding the destruction that had overtaken my life.  

I want others to experience the power of salvation in their lives.  I want to help pull others from the wreckage.  I want to see fewer lost lives and more hope.  Not by controlling people’s behavior, but by helping people see God’s true character of love, and hope, and grace, and joy, and the everlasting vision He has for us.

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Which is why I will offer myself as a living sacrifice “holy and pleasing to God” — this is my “spiritual act of worship.”

Father God – Dear Lord – thank you for pulling me from the collapse of my life.  Thank you for rescuing me from the debris.  Thank you for searching the darkness and uncovering me in my hopeless situation.  Thank you for ignoring my ignorant wish to not be maimed and for giving me life.  I’m free and it is because You loved me enough to rescue me.  Thank you!

Help me to be strong enough to rescue others.  Help me to have the courage to not try to change people – but instead to simply offer them the hope that comes through You.  Open my eyes to the devastation around me and show me how to best pull others from the debris of life.  I love you too God!  gw




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