Sunday, October 2, 2016

Shattered Portraits

 When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
 A few imperfections: a pimple here, an age spot there, your nose hair or eyebrows need a trim? Oh, is that a blackhead?
   "As many were astonished at thee: His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; so shall He startle many nations..."  
   The prophet Isaiah foresaw Christ's sufferings on the cross and tells us His tormentors messed up His face so bad He didn't even look like a person! The Gospel writers show us His accusers punched Him, beat Him with rods, and forced a crown of thorns down on His head all the while they mocked Him. 
   Isaiah writes again, "I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting." (Isaiah 50:6). They tore His beard right off His face!!! He looked like a monster!
   Why am I telling you this?
   King David also had a vision in which he experienced  Christ's agony on the cross, recorded in the 22nd Psalm. "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All that see Me laugh Me to scorn..."
   "Reproach" isn't a word we use much these days, but it means you are the butt of peoples' jokes, the object of their contempt. They whisper about you, look down on you, judge you and brand you as inferior. 
   You're fat. You're ugly. You're stupid. You're retarded. You're gay. You're a loser. You're a wimp. You're  poor. You're illegitimate. You're worthless.
   Many of us have had moments in our lives when we were either told such things straight out or made to feel that way by a parent, sibling, classmate, relative, whoever. And you internalize the reproach, and turn it inward on yourself.  You have a broken image of yourself. "I am a worm and no man."
   I recall an event in my life that marked me. It was my birthday (5th or 6th?) and in cards from relatives and family friends I got some cash, about $9.00.  I remember my father telling me, "That's too much for you", leaving me $2.00 and taking the rest. I forgive him, but damn! He told me essentially I didn't deserve nine dollars! It was too much for me!
   I went through my life feeling like I didn't deserve good things, didn't have a right to expect or ask for anything for me! I never finished college, and took low-paying jobs, driving second-hand cars and dressing like a bum and never knowing why I sabotaged my life. I didn't recall it until after much prayer and seeking the Lord, but that one moment defined my view of myself.
   Why am I telling you this?  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. Why did God let them do that to His Son? TO UNDO IT IN YOU!
  Listen, I'm not talking about some warm fuzzy feel good about yourself chicken soup for the soul. I'm talking about the God Who Sees Me looking deep into your heart and soul and taking that moment that filled you with shame and fear and self-loathing and putting it on the cross for His Son to bear it for you!!!
   His visage was so marred so that your image of yourself can be restored. He came to make the crooked things straight and the rough places plane. For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy  the works of the Devil. (1 John 3:8) Jesus Christ came to destroy whatever evil things Satan and his demons worked in you. Whatever crap the devil  dumped on you while you were a child, or a teen, to break you up inside, JESUS WANTS TO TAKE AWAY.
    Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted. Listen, you don't earn any points with God by suffering pain and misery. Jesus did the suffering for you. You earn points with God by believing what He said and acting like it.  In the 12th chapter of Hebrews, we are encouraged, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
   You've carried that weight and worn that label long enough! Let Jesus heal your heart and soul deep within where nobody else sees. Just give it to Him!