One of the congregants texted a question to the pastor yesterday: “Why do so many of us who belong to Jesus not experience the intimacy that makes joy bubble up in us and overflow?” We’d been talking about the woman at the well.
The pastor said there are many reasons—one of them busyness. I can’t help wonder if one of the other reasons is that for all our words about wanting intimacy, really we fear it. We’re scared to come too close, scared of what God will see in our nakedness and maybe even more scared of having to see it ourselves.
And the appointment reminder has arrived in my inbox (and yes, I’m going) but there’s this part of me that keeps wanting to shut it down. Stuff it all back in the closet and slam the door and aren’t I making too big a deal of this and shouldn’t I just focus on the good things and leave the hard behind and I can feel the edginess that tells me I’m trying to push away emotions I don’t want to feel.
But Jesus steps toward me, his right hand extended so I can see the wound in his palm as he invites me to place my bruised one in his. He places his left arm around my waist, his hand on my back. I put mine on his shoulder, accepting His invitation to dance. We’re clasped together, that hollow pit in my stomach against the wound in his side, his scarred hand holding mine. He steps and I step and our cheeks brush and my tears leave a mark on his face.
I listen again to the song and see Jesus suffering for love of me and hear the words, "the Saviour drank it all.” And I think of Hebrews 12, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” and I fall at his feet and embrace those beautiful wounded feet, my wounds all of a sudden seeming so small. So small, not in a “these aren’t worth bringing” sort of way but in a “these belong here” sort of way, because, since the cross, every wound that I carry—however big or small—is already part of him. His wounds are his choosing to carry mine.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah 53)
And I hadn't thought the dance could become any more beautiful than in that moment when he pressed my wounds to his but I'd forgotten that this is the God who is full of surprises. And there in His embrace when He honored my wounds as real—as part of His own—and set me free to cry, the pain that had been there all day, so heavy and sharp, disappeared. As soon as I stopped trying to push it away and let it be there, let myself be there with it, with Him, it was gone. All I could feel in His arms was the deep and quiet joy of being loved. Why do I keep being afraid to go with Him to the hard places, forgetting that they're always where He meets me most deeply?
I remember the last time I embraced his feet. It was the only posture I could imagine to express the desperate longing I was feeling. And I remember my sobs of surprise when, too fast for me to see how it happened, Jesus slipped through my grasp and knelt beside me, lifting me into his embrace.
There are many good reasons to let Him tend my wounds. But the best reason I know is that I can’t enter the dance with my hands stuffed deep in my pockets. When I’m trying to run from my wounds, I’m only running from Him.