I use a certain phrase a lot. It typically indicates that I have reached the end of my ability to gracefully keep up with life. Sometimes it means that my sleep deficit has caught up with me.
Can you relate to this illustration? Have you ever hit the wall?
Sometimes this happens to me in my spiritual or emotional life, when I feel as though I can’t seem to get past, or grow past, my current state. It means that I am in need of a breakthrough… I’ve exhausted myself trying to scale the wall and I need the hand of God to give me a boost or just knock the wall down.
I have been at the base of a wall for some time now.
I see the wounds and fears that are keeping me from the breakthrough. I see what’s on the other side. I’ve tried fixing myself and I’ve tried pretending that I’ve scaled the wall, but frankly, that doesn’t work.
So here I sit.
This week, God revealed something to me about Jesus, something that I believe is key in getting over the wall. Isaiah 53 is where the revelation came from. I’m sure you’ve read this text before:
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
I’ve always believed that Jesus and I have a lot of common ground: Rejection. Unjust punishment. Abuse. Betrayal. Scars. These are the things we share.
Knowing that Jesus can identify with my pain has brought me immense comfort. I have gone to Him countless times to pour out my heart and His empathy has been a salve for my wounds. Identifying with some of His suffering has allowed me to let go of the majority of my anger and bitterness. Jesus and I — we’ve met on the plane of suffering and that’s where I learned to love Him.
But there is more to this passage in Isaiah. As I looked at the words again, probably a hundredth time, something new became apparent to me:
Though Jesus suffered greatly at the hands of those whom He loved,
He did not choose self-protection.
He did not choose self-protection before, during, nor after His rejection. In fact, after His death and resurrection, He went right back to loving, to being vulnerable, to putting Himself out there for others. He did not put up defenses around His heart. He did not hold people at arms length. He did not fear what would happen if He trusted others.
That is where Jesus and I vary greatly. In the aftermath of abuse and suffering, I have chosen self-protection. I have been guarding my heart since I was very young. When self-protecting behavior is so necessary at such a developmental age, it is hard to undo. Truly, If I could change myself, I would have already done it. I’m a pretty determined and resourceful person. I’ve made it through life to this point, but now I’ve hit the wall. I know that I can’t go further in my marriage or in other valuable relationships unless something shifts.
While reading that Isaiah passage, I felt a movement inside my heart. Something shifted, all right. I can’t exactly put it into words, but the tears are flowing and healing is seeping in. If Jesus can overcome betrayal and abuse, if He can love and trust again, then surely He can help me to do the same. If He can live without self-protection, then so can I. He can teach me. His Spirit can guide me step by step.
You might be wondering why is this so profound to me. This insight about Jesus showed me the lie that I have been believing. I honestly thought that I was unfixable in this area. Numerous attempts to change my ways have failed. Lots of prayers seemed answered with little to no progress. Yet the roadblock was not my wounds as much as it was my perspective.
I thought I was beyond hope.
That, my friends, is the wall I couldn’t scale. Now that I see in black and white that Jesus overcame the struggle that I face, I do have hope. I still don’t have the power to change myself, but I can yield to His Spirit and believe that He will change me.
Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
As I contemplate the glory of His unprecedented response to rejection, abuse, and suffering, I rejoice knowing that I am being gloriously transformed into His image: in my heart, in my relationships, in my everything.
More of You, Lord. I need more of You. Teach me more of Your loving ways. Show me what to do, what to say, what to believe. Make me more like Jesus!
photo credit: emtheartist.wordpress.com