Scars and Story
Scars. We have them, and not just on the outside, numb lumps of tissued skin, but within us, numb lumps of scarring memory pushed into the recesses of our hearts, unseen, where we can pretend they don’t exist. And there they remain, silent, but still at work in every thought, word and action of our existence.
We lived through the moments that caused them, and now, unthinking, we live through them still. We see everything through them, re-live everything through them, these tinted window-pane scars colouring every moment, every relationship ever after. We see ourselves through them.
Who am I? I am who my scars say I am. Is there another way to be?
They had them too, these people. Numb lumps of tissued skin and number lumps of scarring memories. They were slaves. They were the children of slaves. Freedom was a foreign thing. For generations power had bent them down, ground them down. Down to dust.
But they were not just dust. A wisp-thin thread of breath still lingered in their lungs and in the echoing corridors of their minds there remained a faint remembrance of a time when they’d been loved, a moment they’d been chosen. A memory, like a tune half remembered but almost forgotten, like a distant melody floating on the breeze. A song once sung over them in a garden long ago.
So they called with all their breath, with all their tears, with all their beaten broken hearts. They called to God. The God who had made their fathers a promise. They held onto this promise like a lifeline thread. They clung onto it as though their very breath depended on it. Because it did.
‘‘During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.’ Exodus 2:23-25
God heard. And even as they cried out in anguish, God’s rescue plan was already in play. His powerful work of emancipation. Through a baby.
‘When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”’ Exodus 2:10
Moses grew up in the gap between two cultures, the adopted son of royalty and the biological son of slaves. Hebrew. Egyptian. Privileged. Confused. Belonging everywhere. Belonging nowhere.
Nowhere but the very centre of God’s great plan of redemption for Israel.
But before Moses gets to the centre of God’s rescue plan, he first needs to get to the centre of himself. Scripture records three incidences in Moses life between his birth story and the story of His first meeting with YHWH that reveal the shape of his deepest heart…
‘One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known. When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.”’
‘Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.’ Exodus 2:11-17
The word used for ‘rescue’ in verse 17 above is the same word God will use when He calls Moses to partner with Him to come to Israel’s rescue1.
Sometimes the core of us knows who we are before our mind has written it into our identity. Before he was called by God, Moses already found himself called by his own heart, drawn toward caring for the oppressed and the vulnerable.
Moses began living his calling before he even knew he had it. He already had a heart that lent towards justice, a stirring within him that cared for the down trodden, and it wasn’t just talk. On all three occasions, (the oppression of the Egyptian slave master, the Hebrews fighting and the daughters of Jethro at the well) Moses makes the concerns of the oppressed his own. And intervenes.
God sees Moses long before Moses saw himself and He was going to take that one small heart of Moses that leant toward justice and stretch it over a much larger injustice.
God sees us. He sees who we truly are long before we do. He sees the authentic shape of our beating heart and strengthens us to be…
This broken world has a story for us to live in. Our scarred history has a story for us to live out. But there is a story written into the core of us that our mind takes time to awaken to. Our truly human story.
Our adventure with God in His long story of grace.
What story are you living in?