When I was a senior in high school a group of friends invited me to go horseback riding. This wasn’t my first time to ride – I had been on horses a few times before so I wasn’t a complete novice, but I wasn’t a steer-roping, cattle-driving, show-horse riding expert either.
It was a crisp, fall day. One of the first beautifully clear days of fall with a hint of coolness in the air. A perfect day to spend outside riding with friends. The kind of day that makes any animal – including a horse – REAL frisky.
I volunteered to ride the lead horse. (Yes, I was a know-it-all and real full of myself back then. Shocker.) And the ride out from the barn was fine because he was in front of the pack. But when I turned the lead horse around, the combination of the cool crisp air and his innate desire to be the lead horse took over and I was powerless to stop him.
He took off running at full horse-galloping speed. And somewhere along the ride back I fell off and my foot got stuck in the stirrup. That horse didn’t notice or care as he continued to run down the gravel road, dragging me behind him, the right side of my body being shredded like cabbage for cole slaw.
By the grace of God I have no memory of that day. The last thing I remember is getting on the horse at the barn. I don’t remember the accident, the ambulance ride, my parents’ faces as I was wheeled into the hospital. I don’t remember being stitched up by a plastic surgeon that just happened to be in the ER (God was looking out for me on that one), or getting into my bed at home.
But I do remember the first time I looked at my face in a mirror. I seriously could have played the role of Two-Face in the next Batman movie. The left side of my face was completely normal. But the right side was missing several layers of skin, my eye was swollen shut and I had pieces of teeth missing. Let’s just say I most likely wouldn’t have won the Miss Alabama pageant that year.
My appearance was extremely disturbing, and I needed help to recover. I couldn’t bear to even look at my face or touch it. But a mother’s love is a powerful thing. My mother looked past the ugliness, ignored the oozing sores and gently cleaned my face. Every day she would very carefully wipe my face with a soft washcloth, not wanting to cause me pain but not able to prevent it totally. Then she would apply Neosporin with a touch that would impress any ER nurse. I would whimper and cry as she cleaned my wounds, and I have no doubt she did the same, but it was never in front of me. She faithfully cared for me and until the layers of skin regenerated on my face and I was healed.
And you see, Jesus does the same for me spiritually. He loves me no matter how disfigured my life is. He can look past the ugliness and see beauty. He gently cleans and bandages my wounds, and nurses me back to spiritual health. “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 30:17) And yes, sometimes spiritual growth it is painful, but I know Jesus is always by my side, taking as much of the pain on Himself as I’m able to release. I know His love for me is limitless, as proven by His death on the cross.
My mother’s love looked past the ugliness, cleaned up my wounds and nursed me back to health. And Jesus continually does the same or me.
How blessed I am to be healed.