UnspoiledPosted: January 21, 2011
I drove home from evening church early. The kids had reached their “point” and so I took the little ones and headed home.
I looked for stars, but there weren’t any. It was a night that belonged to darkness. The heavens were muffled with clouds.
I saw something moving in the road ahead and slowed. I approached and saw and my stomach lurched and my heart did too and I felt stunned and sick all at once.
A raccoon, on his back, shaking and trembling and clawing at the empty air, eyes wild…living his last few moments in the throes of death.
Alone in the dark.
On a cold asphalt road.
I know it sounds sappy and a long time ago I closed my heart to being sappy; but since I’ve reopened my heart to life and love and joy and pain, I guess to some I’m considered sappy again and that’s okay…but raccoon dying in such a terrible way hurt.
I felt it inside.
And I didn’t know what to do with it.
I guess I’ve never quite known what to do with pain.
Next morning I read this story of tremendous heartache, and when I pray on knees and tears for this family, I feel it again and wonder, “How do we do this? How do we live in a world of such heartache?”
Do we just pad our lives so that we don’t have to face pain? Do we seek as much comfort as possible so we don’t have to be acquainted with the real, terrible suffering of others? The poor? The oppressed? The lonely? The taken- advantage-of-ed? The ones without recourse in this world?
Or do we focus on pain, isolate it, encase it like a shrine, make it an idol? Do we think that by worshiping it in this way we can keep it at bay, as if it will do our bidding?
What if we can hurt healthy?
Pain tells us there is only one road to pursue: Be an Untouchable.
Put yourself out of pain’s reach.
The pain of rejection…”Be untouched by pleasing people.”
The pain of failure…”Be untouched by not risking.”
The pain of insignificance…”Be untouched by putting on pretenses.”
The pain of desperation…”Be untouched by not putting yourself in that position, whatever the cost.”
The pain of being robbed of dignity, voice, “rights” …”Be untouched by becoming strong. Self-reliant. In control. Independent. Become a person of means.”
The Words come then…”Not untouched, but unspoiled” … and I know that is what Jesus can do.
The simple truth? All of us are guaranteed some pain in this life and I’m tired of being afraid of it, letting that fear curl me up and close me off and I’m ready to know how to hurt healthy.
History, both world and personal, show that we will each be touched by pain and heartache. We can be knocked down by it, dragged to the stake by it, offered up as a living sacrifice on it.
But we can still be unspoiled.
Which do we really want? Untouched or unspoiled?
My friends, I know what my new choice means. I know that pain will come and shake me to the roots and do everything it can to spoil me.
But when choosing between untouched or unspoiled?… well I’m changing from the first choice to the second.
‘Cause Untouched is Impossible.
Untouched is really a deceitful lie, a temptation to curl off and close up and not engage and spend yourself and all you have trying to live a life that doesn’t really exist anyway.
Choice #2? Well it is possible. It can happen. It can be reality even when pain touches, scalds, sears, enters, and scars.
It’s how the early followers all died…
John exiled on Patmos
Stephen stoned to death
Matthew stabbed to death
Mark pulled in two at the legs by horses
Luke cruelly hanged
Peter, Philip, and Simon crucified on a cross
Bartholomew skinned alive
Thomas pulled apart by 5 horses
Little James cut in half by a saw
James the brother of the Lord stoned to death
Judas tied to a pillar and shot with arrows
Matthias’ head cut off
Paul martyred under Nero
Not one was Untouched. But all died Unspoiled.
It is Deceiver who says, “Oh, see? You must try to live a life untouched! You must fear. You must do all you can to be Untouched. Maybe you can escape it.”
And he is happy to give us his plans of escape, too.
Life and Truth says, “It’s a lie. There is no such thing as Untouched. Open your eyes and you will see. But there is something better than Untouched… It is yours if you want it.”
And I do.
Youngest one falls and bumps his head and feels pain. I give him the only thing I can and in that moment I get it. I get why deceiver wants to lure us with “Untouchable.”
Pain’s companion is Presence.
It’s what I gave youngest when he felt pain. It’s what we all look for, what we all really need. It’s what makes pain endurable.
It even makes pain worth it. “That I may know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings…”
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. When you walk through the waters, I will be with you…” See Is. 43:1-3
Instead of fearing pain, I will seek Presence… For I must walk through the valley of shadows, but I will fear no evil.
I will not be Untouched, but I will be Unspoiled.
For He is with me.