Falling Off the Wagon

snowflakeThis christmas break, I backslid in my Christian walk. Usually I’m in the word at least once a day, fellowshipping with others via Bible studies, keeping my fallen human nature in check. But this christmas break, I just leterally stopped. Hit a brick wall… I’d like to use that experience to illustrate how important it is to run the Christian race with others (1 Corinthians 9:24). Continue reading

A Kiss on the Hand

I baby handwas born with a bright red birthmark on my left palm in the exact shape of a kiss. You know the shape, it’s the shape that lipstick makes when it rubs off on something after a kiss. The birthmark faded after a while, but its significance proved indelible. My mom called it my “angel kiss” because I had survived a near-death experience with a hospital born illness shortly after birth. To her, she told me, it was a sign that the angels were always looking out for me and they would protect me if I asked them.

When I was about 6, my first day in elementary school, I was reluctant to leave my mother’s side. Yep, I was a momma’s boy. I’ll never forget what she did to give me the courage to go to school all alone and stay there without her for a whole day. She took my hand and kissed it. “if you ever miss me,” she said “or something happens to ruin your day, or you just wish that you had me with you, remember that you have my kiss in your hand. And any time you need mommy’s love, you can just take your hand and put it on your cheek, and you have as many kisses as you need.”

This might seem mawkish (overly-sentimental), but I was six and we had just moved. I had no friends and I knew nobody. I needed that kiss to know I would be ok. To my six-year-old mind, mommy’s kiss had special healing powers. Any time I would scrape my knee, or get a “boo-boo,” the band aid went on first and then it was sealed with a kiss. That kiss is what helped me to stop crying, not the Band-Aid. Mommy’s kiss had the power to heal any wound, physical or not. This was the gravity of what a kiss could do: heal. And with that power in my hand, I confidently went off to my first day of first grade.

~7 December 2015~ Edit: Obviously my mom didn’t kiss all my wounds. With big wounds, a kiss directly on the site of the wound might hurt even after it was cleaned, disinfected, and bandaged. She kissed me on the cheek instead… but if it was a paper cut for example, yeah she’d kiss my little finger.

Before first grade, before the move, before the city, we lived out in the country. Now, the only roads close to my house back then were coarse, gravely, and unpaved. The kind of country road that hurts when you walk on it barefoot, and that crunches when you walk on it with boots. It’s uneven and when you drive on it, you can’t drive very fast. We called it the bump bump road, because that’s what it was like in the car.

That road made it impossible for me to learn how to ride a bike properly. I could ride a tricycle, but the first time I saw my older sister fall down on her bike and skin her hands, knees, and entire forearm, I wanted nothing to do with bicycles. After that, when we moved to the city, I would have learned but I was too embarrassed to break out my training wheels in front of the other six-year-old boys. They were way past that and I would look like a baby.

When I was nineteen, I went biking in Colorado with a friend of mine. You can imagine how this is a problem: I still did not know how to ride a bike yet. I was going to learn on the trip, just diving in the deep end without any lessons. Well, I fell down. Seventeen times. The first sixteen times were harmless, but the seventeenth time was much worse. It had been a couple hours and I had gotten confident and was getting tired of the uncomfortable bike seat, so I was going fast. The bike started to veer, and I just lost control of the bike, I don’t know how.

As with the sixteen times before, I instinctually put out my foot and put on the brakes. I was going much, much faster than the other times. the moment my foot made contact with the ground, I dropped my bike but my momentum carried me into a tumble. I did a front flip. The next sensation I was aware of was the dirt gently grazing the top of my helmet as I flew, at that very moment completely upside down, and continuing to spin foreword, skid to a halt on my back, with my hands stopping my spin. It was a blur. I was swerving. I was upside down. I was on my back.

A throbbing pain went through my left hand. A quarter-sized chunk of skin had been removed from that area of my palm. The scrape was in the same place on the same hand as my angel kiss, it was the same size and it was bright red with blood. I should clarify about my birthmark: it only lasted a few years. As I grew older, the kiss became a small pink speck, a bit bigger than the size of a period. I would look at it from time to time in high school, and wonder when it would finally disappear forever. Well, that day had come: the scrape removed the last remaining vestige of that angel kiss, and left me with a new one. just like the first one, it faded and healed with time.

I panicked a little when I saw it but decided to focus on getting help. Mom was not there to help me this time, as she had been so many times I had gotten cuts and scrapes on the bump bump road. So, I sat on the side of the trail and waited. I couldn’t stop my hand from shaking. Eventually, I waved someone down. She asked if I was okay and if I needed help, and I showed her that my worst injury was just the one on my hand. She was a nurse, and she had gauze with her (How lucky!). We had nothing to secure the gauze, so I used my shoelace.

When the panic of the fall wore off, my grumpy mood set in. I couldn’t grip the handle well enough to keep riding, and my shoe was falling off. I was really hating bicycles for the rest of the trail. I had lost my water bottle, probably on fall 5, and I was thirsty. A grumbly cloud followed me as I walked my bike for what must have been 2 miles with a bleeding hand patched up with some gauze and a shoelace. But then, I remembered something I had learned about the Lord. In every situation, we can always gain more of Him. I had been told that. Apparently, the worse your situation is, the better an opportunity it is to gain the Lord.

At first, my mind rejected this thought: how could I possibly gain Christ in this mess? A said a curt prayer, but a very upfront and genuine one, admitting to God that I didn’t know what was happening or why he let it happen, but asking him to help me gain more of Him through this situation. After that, my grumpiness just started to evaporate. I don’t remember how, or what revelation I had, and I can’t explain why, but I just started to feel a lot better. I had been honest with God.

Today, the wound is fully healed. So far, that part of my palm is still smooth; I don’t have a fingerprint there. I also must have lost some nerves because I can’t feel things as well there. But I will never forget that something was written on my heart that day, something that will carry me through anything, and I can confidently go anywhere, knowing that He’s there, just like the kiss on my hand. An that thing is… I don’t know.

let me explain:

I realized later that my prayer was similar to Job’s prayer after all that happened to him. He had every reason to abandon God out of spite, but instead he acknowledged that God’s ways are higher than his. I still don’t understand what happened that day, but I do know that I gained something. and the best part is: I don’t have to understand it! In fact, to gain Christ, I don’t have to have any revelations, I don’t have to feel a certain way, I just have to be desperate to gain him. I just have to call on Him. Even when I don’t know how to gain Christ out of a certain situation, I just have to admit that to him! and ask him to help me gain him anyway! From now on, whenever I don’t understand what God is doing to me, I just tell him that. But I also tell him that I still need Him and love Him and want more of Him, no matter what he’s putting me through.

This is the mystery that I gained. That is why I say I don’t know the thing I gained. Just how I didn’t understand how my mom’s kiss worked its magic, or how the angels could be real if I couldn’t see them, or how I survived a biking accident with nothing more than a scrape. I don’t understand the Christ that is in me, who protects me, who heals my grumpiness like a kiss; I don’t know him fully yet, but I want to. I gained a desire, a desire that I don’t understand, to know this person.

God became a human man not only to save us from sin, but to show us he is a person. a person whom we can contact every time we pray or read or fellowship with others. This person, like a kiss on the hand, is just a touch away. He is readily available. It was not that way before Christ died, but when He rose again, something happened and humans gained the privilege of being kissed by a God who has forgiven them, and who would never again leave them.

To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.

-Isaiah 54:9

God left humanity once, all of them, even Christ, for three hours on the cross (see Matt 27:46). and he flooded the earth once with Noah, for forty days and forty nights. after both of these events, God’s wrath was satisfied. The ark, which is christ, saved humanity from god’s wrath, and the cross, which saved us in Christ, has washed us as the earth was washed. Through all of this, we have gained a new birth, and a new birthmark, that tells us he’s always there. he’s there when we are scared, and he is there when we blunder and fall. he is always there, like a kiss on the hand.