Running to Trust God
It was a beautiful spring day in my neck of the woods, so I decided to embark on a run by myself. With three young children at home, the glorious experience of doing anything by myself was so appealing that my mouth started watering at the deliciousness of the possibility. The kids were occupied with one of their grandmothers for the moment, and when she assured me that all was well, I literally snuck out of the house. Like a guilty teenager, I closed the door as quietly as I could so I would not be heard. I felt a twinge of guilt as I reached down to tighten the laces on my old dusty running shoes. I noticed for the hundredth time the hole in my shoe on the front side where my big toe goes. As I began my slow run, I was reminded of my C-section scar, as the discomfort set in from long neglected core muscles now forced to engage. I felt the pain and breathed through it. I refused to let any amount of discomfort ruin the next hour of my life. I was alone with nothing but the breeze creating a glorious path of leaves and pollen on the ground before me. This became my red carpet, inviting me to take center stage for a moment in time. As I ran, I found myself praying. As I prayed, God brought to mind the brokenness in our relationship. I told God that I knew I had been avoiding it. And our conversation began:
God said, “You can trust me with that you know.”
I knew what God was talking about. I stopped trusting God with my kids a while ago because of the accident, because of the C-section, because of the therapy, because of all the pain, all the fear, all the brokenness in the world.
I said, “I can’t. Not with them.” There was a long pause, and then pain from what felt like a punch in the gut that lingered. I ran faster hoping that would eliminate the pain. Nothing was going to keep me from this hour, I reminded myself. Not even God.
Then I said, “Don’t you see how much you’re asking? Don’t you see how hard that is, how impossibly hard that is!?” Another long pause. “They came from me. They came from my body.” I said.
Without hesitation, God said, “Yes. And you came from mine.”
I stopped running. The gut-punch pain that I had been feeling as I tried to fight back tears released suddenly as the tears poured from my eyes like a clogged fountain unexpectedly becoming unclogged. It was a unique and mystical experience.
In the days since my run, I have pondered these words and the broken body of Jesus. I have pondered them often because brokenness has been my experience. My body was broken as they cut me hip from hip to deliver my daughter in an emergency c-section. Before the births of my three children, I went in thinking, “whatever it takes” to get this baby out of me. “I will do whatever it takes.” I never anticipated a C-Section. This was a whole new level of pain and brokenness I had not known before.
The brokenness in my own story reminds me that “the story of Christians experiencing adversity is nothing less than a narrative of their participation in the story of Jesus, itself deeply rooted in the story of Israel’s Scripture.” (Mark D. Baker and Joel B. Green, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, ©2011), 34.
My journey has led me to the story of scripture and the story of Jesus. It has led me to atonement theories and down many rabbit trails to discover a theology of the cross that speaks to my experience, my experience as a broken women and my experience as a believer. I find myself desperate to know “what is the story of Jesus” that is being written on the cross. What was Jesus doing as he hung and died? The answer I have found resonance with, especially in seasons of great suffering, is that Jesus was giving birth. With his broken body ripped open and bleeding he was consenting to doing whatever it took to get to God’s children by putting Himself in solidarity with us. At the cross, Jesus embodies the reality that life is created out of brokenness. And isn’t life always born of broken bodies?
Jesus tells his disciples in a foreshadowing and chilling affair that “This is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
When I hear these words of Jesus, I think about the broken bodies of women all over the world,
laboring to bring their children safely into the world. Images of women doing “whatever it takes” to bring their children safely into the world scroll through my mind as if they were on a movie screen. These are women who live in third world countries who have walked hundreds of miles, over weeks at a time, to get to the nearest hospital before labor commences. These are women who have labored in a bedroom or at home because they did not have access to health care. These are women who have chosen to give birth at home or in water to experience the full weight of the birthing experience. These are women who have sat in hospital beds under the blessed help of an epidural (God’s gift to women, in my opinion). These are women who have died giving birth, women who have torn and done irreparable damage to their bodies giving birth. These are women who have pushed once and the baby was here. These are women who were cut open to deliver their babies in planned and emergent situations. These are women who gave birth and then gave their child to someone who could give their child a better life. All of these women labored with broken bodies to bring give life.
What was Jesus doing on the cross? What story was he telling? He was giving birth to new life, new creation, a new Kingdom, a new way and a new story. A story where the path to victory is lined with sacrifice, where the last are first and the broken are exalted, where brokenness leads to new life.
So, as I run and as I hold this image of Jesus giving birth I am more and more persuaded that I can trust a God who knows what it is like to create life out of brokenness.
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