Job 5:18 “for though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes but his hands also heal.”(NLT)
I sat in silence at my desk staring at this scripture. He wounds? Why would God wound me by giving me anorexia and then compound my suffering by giving me the tormenting nerve that drives me to despair and little desire to work my recovery? “Is all of this some sort of discipline,” I wonder as I read the proceeding scripture Job 5:17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the almighty when you sin.”(NLT)
I pray over these words and believe that God wants to reveal something to me, and it is my ever-present humanness I try to force the issue and begin to beat myself up for being such a sinner that God is punishing me. It is a familiar place and easy for me to go, confusing discipline with punishment. I feel the sting of a recent cut on my hip, and reach down to touch it with my hand.
This physical wound is an outward expression of a wound or wounds I carry deep within my heart. Something in this day has caused me to retreat in to my dormant self-destructive behavior. I chose to be wounded on my own terms and not God’s or any one else’s terms. Is God angry with me?
Then I remembered Job. He was righteous and blameless. God didn’t go after Job like a prizefighter in the ring, but he did allow Satan to go after him. I (we) live in this fallen world, and the truth is that Satan lives among us and goes after each of us.
Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the dessert by manipulating God’s own words. If he can attempt to do this to Jesus, then of course he would do this to me. He is just waiting to steal my and your joy.
Joy? What joy is there in punishment? What have I done to warrant two debilitating afflictions? Could it be that like Job, God is simply allowing Satan to go after me in order for me to run full on to his arms for comfort and strength instead of the eating disorders or sharp objects?
I began to doodle on my sketchpad for my Bible Art/Journaling study. God forgives me when____? I begin to doodle in a flourish of straight lines and curves “ He forgives me when I CUT, RESTRICT, PURGE!” So why, if I am forgiven, do I feel as though I am being punished?
I began to work on my page. The color I chose for the background was oddly flesh toned. “This will be perfect,” I thought as I slashed crimson hash marks on the page the watercolors spilling outside of the lines like blood seeping from a wound. I went after the page with strong angry strokes, but everything about the entry displeased me. This isn’t what God wants me to see and the word punishment begins to slip away as I shred the page into tiny pieces and watch them litter the bottom of the waste can.
As I sat looking at the scripture, the colors of the flesh and crimson swirled in my mind like the paint brush I swished through the water to wash it clean. God isn’t punishing me, but washing me clean. Yet, the word wounds began to pulse off the page.
I picked up my simple pencil and in a meditative state began to move it across the page. At the outset, I had no idea what I was sketching; my hand just moved effortlessly creating fine lines that started to take on the shape of a torso. There was no head, no face, and no legs, only a torso and long softly shaped arms.
It didn’t look like much, but I felt compelled to fill in the space I had created with the puddle of flesh toned watercolor I had muddled on my palette. I am used to hearing God speak to me through my writing, but this time his voice is almost audible and my eyes scan the room as if to look for the presence I can feel and hear.
“Now Your Wounds!” I exclaim out loud “What! What wounds are you talking about?” “Liz, paint all of the places you have hurt yourself on this body.” “Ouch!” I thought, as drawing these self-inflicted wounds sounded more painful than creating them in the first place. The words coerce me to to caress tenderly the wound on me hip.
I pleaded with God to let me paint the wounds others’ had inflicted on my body and soul, or even the one’s that he had allowed. I can somehow look at these injuries and lingering scars left from another’s hands or words because I was the victim of someone’s uncontrolled anger, but to see my own anger displayed on my own body…” Lord please don’t make me do this,” I begged him, but he remained adamant. “Liz, you need to do this to feel the grief that I feel each time you wound yourself with your hands, your words, or behavior.”
So, I did as he asked me and covered the faceless body with bleeding wounds, fading bruises, and scars. Without the face, it could be me, or it couldn’t be me. This is when I understood the Lord’s grief as I stared down at the picture. I chose these wounds over the grace of the wounds The Lord endured for me.
He did not create these wounds, nor did he strike me. Tears welled up in my eyes, ‘I did this.” I spoke in a whisper. “I did this to his beloved daughter.” “Next time choose my wounds, choose my grace,” I hear him cry out to me. Then my eyes are drawn back to his written word and I know that even these wounds he will bandage and he will heal as he continues to heal my wounded, broken heart day-by-day, piece-by-piece.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, o God and renew a steadfast spirit in me.”
He renews my spirit and I face the rising sun and the promise of His new day with firm determination to run to The Cross and not away.