"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17)
Dave Roever was in Bible college when he received his draft notification that he was going to Vietnam. He was a young man with a young wife and was heading into the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam war. On the day he left he was at the Love Field airport in Dallas and he says, "To this day I can remember the salty tears on her lips when I kissed her." He says, "It was both the most romantic and terrible moment in my life." She asked, "Davey, will you come back?" Roever promised her, "I'll be back without even a scar." He says he does not know why he added that last part.
On July 26th, 1969, Roever was on a patrol in a fiberglass boat on a river in Vietnam when they encountered action. They ground the boat upon the shore. Roever jumped down into the boat grabbed a phosphorous grenade and raised it to throw. A phosphorous grenade burns at 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, half the heat of the sun. The grenade went off right next to his head. He says he did not know what happened until he was told about it several months later in the hospital. Apparently he jumped into the river but phosphorous can not be extinguished by water. A special chemical is needed to put the burning out. When they put him on a stretcher to load into a helicopter the stretcher caught file, burned through and he fell on his head.
It wasn't until he reached a hospital in Japan that he got a first glimpse of his face. His skin had been burnt off on one side revealing his skull. His eye had swollen up and was ash grey. His ear had been blown off. His eyelid was gone along with his hair. He had also lost his hand. He was in the hospital for a year and two months. While he was in a hospital in the States he recounts, "They let visitors come in and a woman came in to see her husband. He was in the bed next to mine. He was burned over a 100% of his body with third degree burns and he had no skin left. She walked in, threw her wedding ring on the bed, and said, "You're embarrassing." Then she walked out. I said, "Well, that's it. There's no way my teenage wife is going to love me." He says, "I was absolutely tormented. Not only in the flesh of my body being burned but in thinking that she would never love me." One day the door opened and there she stood. He says she walked up and kissed his face, the worst part of his burned body, looked at him in his good eye and said, "I want you to know that I love you. Welcome home Davey." He said, "I'm sorry I can't look good for you." She said, "You never were that good looking anyway." They stayed married and last year celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.
What incredible love that could love despite grotesque physical deformity! After all that I wonder which kiss was sweeter. The first, when Roever was whole and young, or the second when Roever was deformed, scarred and broken? I would think the second.
There are times in life when we are struggling, broken and scarred. Maybe we think God could never love me like this. We're hesitant to go to Him. We feel that if we could clean ourselves up, cover over the scares or be a better person God would love me. Romans 5:6-8 says, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We were grotesque in our sins, undesirably disgusting and repulsive. Nothing in us commended us to the love of God. We were powerless. That is exactly the person that Jesus died for and the person that God welcomes to Himself with the kiss of love. He wants you to know He loves you regardless of the things you've done. Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17) You think there is no way that God could love you but He does. You think, “look at me, there's no way God could want me,” but He does. You are the one He came all the way from heaven to earth to find. When he sees you coming down the road to Him He looses His dignity, runs to you and embraces you. Kissing you He says, "'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:22-24) Come as you are. It is God that changes us day by day into the image of His Son. Come as you are, but come. He waits. He longs for you. He will welcome you with inconceivable love. Then you can begin to celebrate the life God has always had in mind for you.
Prayer: Father, you love the unlovely and we praise you for that. You love even us with all our blemishes and brokenness. It is through the sacrifice of our Savior and Lord that we can come to You. You make a way where there is no way. So, help us to come to our senses and run into your arms like the errant children we are. We gratefully admit our need, our weaknesses, and accept Your promise that Your grace is sufficient for Your power is made perfect in weakness. To You be all the glory for what You have done for us in Jesus Christ. In Jesus name, Amen.