Monday, April 13, 2009
WOUNDED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
It is hard for the Lord to use someone unless they have been deeply wounded.
I pondered these words after reading them in an online devotional several months ago. I found the thought inspiring. And troubling. The deeply wounded do not have a place of significance in society. They are at odds with what is valued in the world. Power and success belong to the strong, the beautiful, the "self made." The unsullied. Being wounded, vulnerable, stripped of all physical ability, is not too appealing.
At the Easter season this year I am not thinking of cute little chicks, pastel colors, budding tulips or large bunnies that magically deliver chocolate eggs. I am thinking of what I do not want to see--brokenness and suffering. These things have great value in God's reality. Why? Not because He enjoys seeing His creation suffer but because God loves to take what is wasted, despised and devastated and fashion from it new life. A heavenly recycling business where nothing is wasted and beauty is concealed within shabby wrapping paper. This is the real Easter story. The one that does not appear in large print on store windows.
Last fall, hunters in the Oregon Cascade range were startled when a horse wandered into their campsite late one evening. He might have stepped out of a horror movie. Face and neck heavily encrusted with blood, the horse's left eye hung lifeless from its socket. The animal wore a halter, lead rope, and full set of shoes. A crudely wrapped wound on his front leg further testified to human care at one time. The horse, though horrifying in appearance, was calm and friendly. He was later transported to Bend Equine Medical Center. What veterinarians found was astonishing.
Xrays revealed the horse had been shot, twice, in the head. Miraculously, both bullets missed the brain. He had been wandering for an estimated two weeks with a stinking, infected leg wound, a shattered eye, and a broken jaw. Fully half his blood volume was missing.
Veterinarians estimated the animal to be about six years old. Barely full grown. He had obviously been somebodies riding horse; following somebody trustingly into the wilderness to be disposed of. Why? There were a few clues. The horse was small, plain, and brown. A sway back--unusual for his age--spotted with white hairs told a story of hard riding and an ill fitting saddle. Then there was the leg wound. In six short years the horse had worn out his usefullness.
When the perpetrator was found out, the truth of the animals circumstances were even more disturbing. Christened Hero by his new owners, the gelding was one of several horses scheduled for disposal in an attempt to, "get rid of all the Arabians" in a local riding program. Wrong breeding, wrong owner; wrong place, wrong time. Some horses are simply unlucky. Or incredibly lucky
When the story of Hero's ordeal broke, people world wide rallied to his support. They found inspiration for life from the near death of this once unwanted horse. One letter, with no return address, came in the form of a Post-it note: I was thinking of ending it all, then I read about Hero. I have decided to change my mind. Thank you.
Says Hero's new owner, Kim Meeder of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, "It is amazing to see how God has used this horse to encourage those who are hurting."
New life after devastation. Beauty from the unlovely. God's specialty is vividly showcased in the Easter story of another discarded and wounded life. Jesus Christ.
The viewing of The Passion of the Christ was important for me. It wasn't like the serene Jesus statues showed in churches everywhere, discreet spots of red on his hands and feet, the stoic look of inevitability on his face. The grit and blood, sweat and tears--the emotion of Christ--displayed in the film rips apart comfortable christianity that sings familiar hyms on Easter Sunday and goes home to ham dinner and egg hunts. Leaving the theatre weeping, I thought I would be happy to never view the film again. But I needed to see the utter physical brokenness of Jesus. While I will never experience the violence of a cross, I relate to feeling rejected and broken. Sullied. I feel it and see it in myself everyday. Fortunately, that isn't the end of the story. There is a rescue at hand, a new life before me. Like Hero, I am wounded but not forgotten.
For more on Hero visit: http://www.crystalpeaksyouthranch.org/.
Photo of Hero by Emily Greene