I first met Michele Cushatt before she was diagnosed with Cancer of the Tongue, when she was a young mom of only 39. In the years since, she’s endured two more cancer diagnoses, each more serious than the one before, and she and her husband have adopted three additional children with a heartbreaking history of trauma. Not only does Michele live with permanent functional disabilities and chronic pain, their entire household is filled with hard stories. In this space of both faith and suffering, Michele has learned hard lessons about the presence of God in places of pain. It’s a grace to welcome Michele to the farm’s front porch today…
“Show me your scars,” she said. “I’d really like to see them.”
If anyone else had asked, the words might have felt awkward, intrusive.
But this was Lindsey, my friend of several years whose body bore her own scars.
More than a decade before, she’d nearly died in childbirth and slept forty-seven days in a coma, and she had spent the years since trying to recover. She knew how a scar could leave a girl in irreconcilable pieces.
At the kindness of her question, my throat turned tight. I reached for my left shirtsleeve, rolled it up slowly, past wrist then elbow, to reveal the largest of my scars.
At least twelve inches, including a two-by-three-inch skin graft on the inside of my wrist.
This is where they removed blood vessels and flesh to rebuild some semblance of a tongue. My left arm looked like a scene pulled from Frankenstein.
She reached her hand toward my arm. With a gentleness hard-earned, she touched the skin, her fingers tracing the long line of memory in the form of an ugly white scar.
I couldn’t speak. She wouldn’t.
With a touch, I felt less alone. She entered in, sharing my pain. And a small part of my unseen wounds started to heal.
It has been more than three years since that day. I’ve thought of it many times, and her gesture has changed how I see and reach for other scarred people.
Sometimes touch heals more than words, presence more than platitudes.
And I now understand.
This is what God accomplished in the incarnation.
By becoming flesh and blood, God reached out a hand from the distance of heaven and touched humankind. Bridging the distance of holiness, He not only became someone we can touch but became the one reaching to touch us.
“He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him” (Matt. 8:15).
“He went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up” (Matt. 9:25).
“But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid’” (Matt. 17:7).
“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (Matt. 20:34).
“After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue” (Mark 7:33).
“Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am will- ing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:13).
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see” (Luke 24:39).
In a world that pulled away from pain, Jesus pushed in. He reached for it, experiencing pain so we would know we’re not alone in ours. What was once marked for death showed signs of new life.
Jesus—the flesh-and-blood presence of God with us—became the means to our atonement. The sacrifice cut in two, offered as payment for our breaking the sacred covenant. His death atones for the death we deserve.
But He is also our means of attunement. He will hold the basket while we barf, stay close while we suffer, and clean up our messes with His extravagant grace.
Show Me your scars, He urges.
Seeing our deepest needs, He doesn’t pull back.
Reaching with hands that bear their own wounds, He responds as no other human can or will.
He touches us at the place of our pain. Over and over again, with hands familiar with both suffering and healing.
Until we know, once again, we are not alone.
With her signature storytelling and biblical insight, Michele Cushatt’s third book, Relentless, is a message born of deep personal struggle and the transformational discovery that God is indeed with us.
Are you aching for a Love that will never leave, a Presence that pushes back the dark? If so, I have good news for you. God’s love is Relentless, even when your faith isn’t.
To find more solid evidence of God’s presence through the pages of YOUR story, order Michele’s new book Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. And, if you order before November 18, 2019, click here and you’ll received a FREE Altar Stone Card Pack Download to help you build your own altar of God’s presence, right here, right now. Because whether you can see Him, feel Him, or not, He is with you.
For the truth-seekers, those drowning in impossible questions, and those who find themselves swallowed up by the dark, Relentless is an invitation to search for divine presence in our everyday. stories.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]