My five year old strained her eyes in pain and raised her hand to show me where it hurt.
“Ouchie, did you get a splinter?” I asked.
“I’m sorry sweetie. Mommy has tweezers at home that will get that right out.” My words were meant to comfort, but I realized as soon as they left my mouth she wouldn’t agree...
Her tears welled...then wailed.
It was a long drive home.
She shuffled in the house tear stained. I offered her a warm water and baking soda hand bath to draw out the splinter gently. However, the thought of that was even more intimidating to her than the tweezers so I simply told her to let me know when she was ready. As soon as I started to find something else to do she found her brave resolve.
“Okay, wait wait...I’m ready,” she said choking back her fears.
She held her hand out to me and her muscles tensed. Just as I moved in with the tweezers - she snapped her right hand over her ailing left hand to block my efforts. Her eyes widened and flailing screams of “owie’s” and “ouchies” swallowed the air.
I cringed with empathy. Her efforts to protect herself had backfired, now the splinter was smashed down even deeper into her skin. I waited for the throbbing wails to dissipate before whispering...
“Sweetie, you gotta trust that momma does not want to hurt you. I only want to remove what is hurting you. I will do so as gently as I know how...you just need to trust me. Keep your hand open wide. Hold still, sweetheart. Let me help.”
My words came out sounding a lot like times in my life when the Spirit of God has reminded me...
The massive splinters of the heart wedge in deep.
We were meant to be whole but these splinters divide and disrupt. We know we need our Heavenly Father so we hold our hearts up.
“It hurts, Lord,” we cry.
He reminds of His word - sharp and incisive to remove the division between soul and spirit.
He reminds us of His word to extract bitterness and mend with forgiveness.
He reminds us of His word to take complaints and balm up with praise.
He reminds us of His word to steal anxieties and salve with peace.
He reminds of His Word who wore flesh, so that we could wear His heavenly healing. Jesus.
But... ohh how we wail!
Deep down we know that living with our heart-splinters will lead to a deadly infection, but we still try to escape the pain of their removal. Afraid, we try to protect ourselves only to find that we only know how to drive our pains in deeper.
One way or another, sooner or later, we all learn that our every effort away from the Lord is self-sabotage.
By grace we need to learn His way...
This time before hovering the tweezers over DeCelie’s hand, I demonstrated on my own hand what I’d be doing to help. And after this example she found her exhale, held out her hand, palm up, and received the tweezers.
No self-protective maneuvers.
No screams. No flailing.
Demonstrations make all the difference…
At the cross, Jesus demonstrated His love for us.
He opened His hands wide, palms up, and received the nails to remove our sin.
“It is done,” he cried.
Because of His demonstration of love for us on that cross, we can learn the way of trust.
Because He took on our pain to take it to the grave, we can see that He is for us, not against us.
Because He died, we can die to self-protection and live in His protection.
I held the tweezers up to the light to show DeCelie that the splinter had been removed. Her lips curved across her face rejoicing that it was out...that it was done.
It is done.
So may it be done in our lives - yes, may His already finished work, be completed in us.
Will you pause 5 minutes to rest “open-handed” and thoughtfully consider these questions?...
What is one “splinter” in your heart right now that God desires to remove with His love?
Are you guarding yourself from His hand of grace that seeks to remove it? If so how? Why?
How does the truth of God’s loving demonstration at the cross assure you of His heart for you in that matter?
Are you ready to open your heart and let Jesus apply His work at the cross to your need today?
Grace & Peace,
Photo credit: Amrit. "Hands Open". Used with permission: http://bit.ly/1Ix0gLH