It felt like spring in the middle of January. Warm air created wispy fog ribbons on the still snowy farm fields beginning to melt. My mind jumped to a special time last spring just after the winter white had left for good.
It was Nick’s 14th birthday and fourteen adolescent boys poured out of our vehicles like Army troops landing on a foreign beach. Each with some sort of pretend assault weapon, these testosterone-enriched pubescents were ready to roll. I know some moms might take issue with me. But I’ve raised two boys and learned that even twigs turn into guns. So, with a few ground rules like “Only use your pretend weapons for self-defense”, off they went into the woods for the adolescent version of hide-and-seek, probably disregarding everything I had just said with rolling eyes and a sarcastic “Right!” in their minds. What do moms know about boys anyway?
I had divided them into two troops, literally making them stand at attention while I issued orders. Each troop had an “injured” soldier somewhere in the woods. Their mission? Search and rescue. The wounded could not walk out. He must be carried. The first to bring their mate to safety would win a prize. Should I say they were MOTIVATED?!
As war correspondent and field photographer wrapped in one, I could hardly keep up, clicking camera and interviewing as I went. What one sacrifices for a good birthday party!
I could hear the echoing calls, “Nick! Where are you? Can you grunt? Can you give us a sign? Are you alive?” The moaning of the wounded began. Like bloodhounds with noses to the ground, the troops narrowed their search in smaller and smaller circles, closing in on the groans. Finally, the lost was found—too wounded to walk. The team worked together, carrying their comrade out of danger.
Each team loved the game so much that all wanted to be the lost one so they could be found and carried to a safe place of healing! On and on the game went until the war correspondent and field photographer could take it no more and had to retire to the camp kitchen to make pizza for the troops.
Did the boys get the life lesson I set up? Will they take this image with them through their lives, letting their inside lost be found and healed by their God who is on a search and rescue mission for them?
How about the rest of us?
The entire human race has been in a hide and seek mode for eons—hiding from ourselves, hiding from others, hiding from God—seeking relief in any way we think we can find it. We hide because we don’t want to admit we’re wounded—broken—in need of healing.
There we are out on our own in the world, acting like we’re well when we’re not. We worry. We try to control everything—our image, our problems, our pain, others. And we KNOW we fail but we don’t want anyone else to know because we think we’re alone. We think we’re the only one wounded. So we HIDE. We hide from others and we especially hide from God. Deep, deep down, we KNOW we’re wounded and weak and it scares us to death—literally. We get the life scared right out of us like the wounded bleeding out on the battlefield, gasping for breath, trying to hold on to the last of life, knowing we’re going . . .
It’s all so needless, yet we all do it, even if we don’t know it. Survival of the fittest? Is that why we do it? Do we think that by pretending we’re well—by pretending we’ve got it together—we’ll survive better than the other wounded? Or do we think that if anyone, especially THE One saw us as we really are they—HE—would turn in disgust and leave us to bleed out and die?
We’re all a bunch of kids playing follow the leader in this hide and seek, search and rescue routine we call life. But this isn’t LIFE! This is scared existence. How did this happen to us?
It happens every time we decide to play God—when we decide we would rather be leader than follower—when we decide WE know best. We’ve been trying to assume the leader role ever since Adam and Eve showed us how.
Deep down, we know we don’t know what we’re doing but we keep trying anyway. And it’s killing us. Literally. We’re dying of broken hearts, trying to heal ourselves but failing. We’re dying of malignant cells eating us alive from the inside out. And we can’t stop it. Our earth is heaving and breaking and we’re all nervous about collapse—collapse of our earth—collapse of our systems—collapse of ourselves. We’re imploding and we need a search and rescue but we hide because we won’t—let ourselves—be found—out. We will NOT admit we need help!
When will we stop the madness? When will we stop the game? When will we allow the roles to reverse? When will we say, “ENOUGH! I’m lost and wounded and I want to be found and saved and healed and I don’t CARE what anybody thinks anymore!”
Inside and out—humanity and human structures—God came to us in Christ to seek and save the lost! (Luke 19:10) He came to bind up the broken! (Isaiah 61:1)
Healing is right there—right HERE! He already knows we’re hiding. And He knows exactly WHERE we hide—HOW we hide. He sees us as we ARE, not as we PRETEND. He already loves completely because He IS grace. He’s not afraid of our wounds. He’s not disgusted by our brokenness. He will not leave us alone if we call for help. He came to bind us up and heal us and set our brokenness straight. He came to set us free from fear.
And only God can take us AS WE ARE and put us back together again in such a way that we are even stronger and more beautiful than before. He wastes nothing! Every broken piece He picks up tenderly and says, “I can and will make this beautiful and useful.”
And He does. He did. Jesus took all brokenness inside us and outside us and made it beautiful on the cross—the place where He was broken for our brokenness—where He bled out for our bleeding—where He died our death. And then, He rose again from the dead. Not fantasy. Reality.
Thousands of witnesses saw and touched His live flesh. He came for life by ending death. He will come again, He promised. Until that day, when he makes perfect once again all in His creation that groans—when the eternal war ends and He claims the world’s throne, He is still on a daily search and rescue mission.
He already knows where we are. He’s just waiting for us to WANT to be found—and carried to a safe place—and healed. This is why He came. This is why He lives. This is GRACE.
God’s Radical And Complete Embrace.
Grace. He knows we’re broken.
Grace. He knows we’re frightened.
Grace. He knows we’re hiding.
Grace. He’s so patiently waiting for our faintest call.
How much more do we want to bleed out? Even one—more—minute?
Grace. He’s here. Will we let ourselves be Radically And Completely Embraced?
Jesus said He “came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3 (This is the portion of Scripture Jesus read in the temple, referring to Himself as the One sent.)
P.S. As I was SEARCHING for the great photos for this post, I realized that my dear husband accidentally LOST the camera last spring. Alas, we will just have to imagine the scene!