Gifts are supposed to bring joy to life. Make it easier. Not bring on pain, right?
A cassette tape of Michael Card’s Scandalon album started as a simple birthday gift. Opening the attached card, I read the words from a friend. Instead of celebration, the words were ones of good-bye. How could this be? A new friendship that had been growing was now over?
Throughout the next months I continued to question what I had done. What broke apart this friendship? At the same time I was confronting the reality of a new life. In only months I would be graduating and leaving a college that had been a home. Wounds were building up within my soul.
Other friends surrounded me and together we walked through this time of pain, not always looking pretty. Ironically, one of the most comforting voices was that of Michael Card, from the gift that initiated a cascade of wounds.
His lyrics did not present a triumphant, victorious Jesus and followers, but the reality of following Jesus in the mire of life. Over and over I listened to these words.He will be the truth that will offend them one and all A stone that makes men stumble And a rock that makes them fall Many will be broken so that He can make them whole And many will be crushed and lose their own soul -Scandalon
As I looked around, I kept seeing broken people through my wounded eyes. In the midst of this suffering, God’s presence started to grow more real. Hearing these words brought to light a new sense of freedom that doesn’t hide behind a spiel of how life should be, but confronts the reality of how life is and the healing that is available.
Twenty-three years later I’m sitting only feet away from Michael Card at a concert. During this season of Lent he is sharing his songs that journey through Jesus’ passion. That again speak of wounds.In this most holy place, He’s made a sacred space For those who will enter in, and trust to cry out to Him
And you’ll find no curtain there, no reason left for fear
There’s perfect freedom here, to weep every unwept tear – Come Lift Up Your Sorrows
As in earlier years, these past few months I had been looking for gifts to make life easier. To take away and remove the difficulties of being in friendships, of trying to minister on campus, of dealing with caring for family members with cancer, and of being misunderstood. It shouldn’t be a surprise that no external gift has worked to right these very human realities. Yet, in the rush of the day-to-day it can seem more practical to quickly cover over these wounds in order to keep going. They are irritants that need simply to disappear.
Throughout the concert/worship I’m alternately wiping my eyes in sorrow and smiling in joy. The words of these songs are helping to uncover hidden wounds. Wounds I had handily hidden. I’m even imagining myself back in the dorm – and the pain that I originally associated with that cassette tape is now gone, replaced by the hope I found listening to these songs the first time. I sense a new freedom, a freedom not possible by ignoring the brokenness.
These words of song are again a gift of wounding. A wounding that ultimately heals through times of crying out and weeping with the One who cries and weeps with us.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
– Isaiah 53:5