I was weeding with a double-edged machete, and hadn’t noticed I disturbed a hornet’s nest. Forgetting I gripped a weapon, I swatted at my stung hand, and sliced open my forearm, a gaping wound. It has taken a long time to heal.
I like to think of wounds as a mark of God’s ownership. Spiritual wounds, on the other hand, are different in that they leave an unseen mark, a spiritual marker, but are no less a sign of God’s deep love. They become what we are becoming in His wise hands.
We are all wounded. The woman I call my second mother is one. This amazing lady leaves her house for a dull errand, and comes back with a story of touching a life. All 4’ 11” of her moves with a gospel boldness, and humble smile. She lost her husband of 65 years a while back, an ache that makes long days, even longer. A sore spot, but not like the favored wound of an estranged daughter.
The one she birthed, raised, rewarded and prayed over, has distanced herself from the love of this contagious woman. This gaping wound doesn’t seem to heal. This wound has made her weep, has made her mad, and this wound has left her in ruins.
But this favored wound has bowed her heart before the King.
The Son’s of Korah had a favored wound. In Psalm 42 we find them proclaiming, “As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me.” Think of it, God turned an ugly family history of rebellion into a worship song! Only the Alchemist can use a wound to turn shame into honor. It’s not in spite of our wounds that He uses us, but because of them.
A wound will press us closer to God, as we cry out for light to see his purposes in it. Even if the scar is ugly, it reminds us that we will fall, and we will suffer, and we will groan and complain and cry, and kick the dirt. But it won’t be lost on God. He will salve the wound, and leave the scar, because that’s how He enlists us into His service.
That’s the story behind my favored wound.
Long before I knew God in relationship, there was Mr. Grace’s seventh grade English class.
It was meant to be a three-minute speech on a favorite subject. Mr. Grace had me go first that day, and I nailed the opening line.
“Soccer is one of the oldest known sports to man.”
But that was the last complex sentence I would coax out of my mouth. My stammer, which I had thought was my secret, escaped into the open, and turned a tired afternoon hour, into a wide-eyed spectacle. My friends looked on in horror. Nothing I could do would get my anxious words out. I bounced my syllables, snorted, jumped up and down to will words into the open, but they would not obey. Hot shame covered me. Sweat poured out of me. In the end, three minutes stretched to 45, when the bell rang to end the period.
Mr. “Grace” sat behind his desk, feet up and mouth agape, and watched as I tried, and died, over and over again.
My classmates were stunned and embarrassed. My girl friend, Dawn Daddio, couldn’t look me in the eyes, and it would be the last day of our ‘going steady.’ My disability confounded every speech therapist in every year of school, until finally as a senior, they told me, “get a job where you don’t have to speak.”
I believe Mr. Grace stayed in his chair that day, because God told him to. God knew I needed a machete kind of wound, so I would never forget. This favored wound I live with is testament to a God who can take a stammer, and create a miracle.
How can it be explained that I am able to witness of Christ to anyone God puts before me? What explanation could be offered when I stand in front of 700 teenagers (which feels like 7th grade English class every time!) and share this story, and they gasp in perplexity, because every word willed from my mind has been brought into the open, without a hitch! Then I tell them what Jesus told Paul, and all of us, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for power is released through weakness.” It still overwhelms me that He stood by me in the longest 45 minutes of my life.
Despite our questions, our wrestling, our unresolved issues, our failed endeavors, our family disputes, our divorces, our sin failures, our broken promises and deep disappointments; all the wounds suffered, the gospel asks us to minister through them. It asks us to accept the dissonance of despair, all the while telling others around us with a wound similar, “hope in God!”
Redemptive suffering means, that this favored wound will become an ever-rising spiritual dawn to cast light into the purpose for why God allowed it in the first place.