Well, I just had something of an emotional, spiritual experience.
Earlier this evening Joshua who is now just under 19 months old was in the bathroom with his mum as she was getting ready to go to a well-earned girls night out. Obviously there can be many hazards in the average bathroom, one of which is a disposable razor.
Normally I put it out of reach but of course the one day that I forget, is the day that Joshua notices it and reaches for it. What follows is the eye-witness account from Alycia. It seems that she saw him reach for it out of the corner of her eye and she exclaimed “No,” only to see Joshua, holding the razor by the head, startled and confused as to what to do. After a second, maybe two, he decided to half throw, half take the razor away from his other hand in doing so gouged a reasonable wound in his left index finger.
I know, call child protection and the police right? At least that is what Josh apparently thought. He was essentially inconsolable. Not least because I am pretty sure that this is his first cut that really decently bled. After My relief that his blood was indeed red, (there’s the odd tantrum where I wonder if he is half Klingon) we placed the band-aid on him.
I am quite proud of this achievement. Putting a band-aid on a screaming, squirming toddler is like trying to broker a peace deal between competing political regimes whilst ice skating.
Anyway, on it finally went and after 20 minutes went by, I noticed that he was still inconsolable. This was especially a problem as I was on baby-sitting duty and I really wanted him in bed by 7.30 as I had a mate of mine coming over to hang out. Oh yeah, and I was also really concerned about Joshua’s emotional well being.
So there I was with a screaming toddler on my lap, trying to get him to eat his dinner. Isn’t that hilarious? Why I thought he’d eat a thing is beyond me. Amidst the cacophony, somewhere in the recesses of my mind I had a thought of how I could get the situation under control.
About 10 months ago now I was cutting iron-bark pumpkin with a knife as sharp as a cricket bat. The problem with blunt knives of course is that they are actually really dangerous because you have to apply that much more force to cut something. This is was the situation and unsurprisingly, I lost control of the blade and ended up plunging it across my right middle and ring fingers. It somehow managed to be sharp enough to cut extremely deeply into my fingers. Long story short, I now have a permanent scar across my fingers as a memento of the incident.
So I showed Joshua my scar, pointing at it with the other hand and making noises to the affect of ‘Owie, owie’ whilst shaking it as if I’d cut it. Then I took Joshua’s finger, pointed to his band-aid and said a similar thing. As best I could I tried to get him to notice that my finger had healed, using various ‘thumbs up’ gestures and that scars are something we all collect.
Astonishingly, he seemed to get it. He calmed down almost immediately. Where he had once feared that this pain and bleeding might indeed go on indefinitely for the rest of his life, he now had evidence to the contrary. His panic was replaced by a peace allowing him to somehow put up with the pain.
And then it hit me so hard, a tear came to my eye; that is precisely what Jesus is saying to us when he chooses to keep his scars. (John 20:24-28) The fact that in Christ, God allows himself to be scarred for eternity, and wears them proudly, gives me, you, us an entirely new context through which to reinterpret our pain. Let me repeat that.
The scars of Jesus provide an entirely new context thru which we can re-interpret our pain. And continue to face another day.
This matters because as Joshua taught me, when you’re hurting (especially if it is in a certain way for the very first time) the most terrifying thoughts are “will this ever get better?” “Will I be able to cope with this?” “Can I go on living a meaningful life with this wound?”
Into this space, Jesus submits his scars as evidence of both the reality of healing and God’s identification with the wounded. As Joshua somehow was able to cope as he gazed at his dad’s scars I realise that there are some things that his dad is somehow able to cope with because I know that my Jesus wears his for me to see.
It’s not just evidence of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it’s evidence of his character.
He’s showing the world his scars to one frightened soul.