After-Easter Stitches

You know it’s going to be a rough day when, first thing in the morning, someone carves a chunk of skin out of your arm.

And when you pay someone to do it? Well, that’s even worse.

Yeah, that\’s the way my day began this morning. You can see the resulting handiwork in the picture. I\’m hoping the eventual scar winds up looking cool and manly. Perhaps I can tell people that I received it swordfighting or something, when the truth will be far more prosaic.

A few weeks ago, my dermatologist informed me that a bothersome mole would have to go. I was a little surprised, given that the mole had been with me for much of my adult life and it had never expressed discontent with his situation. It was not particularly troublesome, nor (as moles go) even all that ugly. The only time it ever seemed at all peevish was shortly after my dermatologist performed a tiny biopsy on part of it. After that, it turned red, one can only assume from anger.

My dermatologist didn\’t like the look of the thing at all. And after the results of the biopsy came back, he said the mole would have to be forcibly evicted from my arm. It wasn\’t cancerous, he said: Not yet. But it was \”atypical,\” and it was displaying a particularly fearsome form of atypical-ness. Which leads me to believe that my mole was the anatomical equivalent of a quiet, unassuming neighbor that one day, out of the blue, drags all of his living room furniture out on the front lawn and sets it on fire. So with that in mind, I let the doctor excise a diamond-shaped section of skin about the size of a quarter. Then he stitched the thing up like a medieval purse and sent me on my way.

Technically, the little out-patient operation wasn\’t that big of a deal at all–less serious, maybe, than getting a tooth filled. (It was certainly less painful.) I know people deal with far worse things. But even so, it\’s left me feeling a little frail. I\’ve been told not to lift anything over 10 pounds. Technically, I shouldn\’t run for two weeks (which\’ll put a serious crimp in my marathon training). And even though the mole wasn\’t yet cancerous, it\’s strange, and a little disturbing, to think of your own body working against you. It\’s like having a sleeper cell on your body, scheming away.

When we\’re reasonably healthy and happy, it\’s easy to forget that we\’re quite frail creatures. I felt my weakness after running this weekend. I sensed my own fragility while watching basketball yesterday—when Louisville’s Kevin Ware suffered a catastrophic injury doing something as routine as jumping.

But maybe that’s part of the poignancy and beauty of Easter, just now passed. Jesus was weak, just as we all are. He hurt, just like we do. He bled when beaten, struggled for breath on the cross and died—just as we all someday will. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around why He had to suffer so … but maybe part of it was to remind us all not only of His human frailty, but ours. He reminded us that, sometimes, circumstances can swamp us. Our human strength can only take us so far—and in times of crisis, that’s not necessarily very far at all.

“Frail,” by Jars of Clay, is one of my favorite songs, beautiful and true:

If I was not so weak
  If I was not so cold
If I was not so scared of being broken
Growing old
I would be … frail.

And yet God—indescribably great, unfathomably powerful—works through weakness. Almost every biblical hero you can think of came from ignominy or dealt with near-crippling flaws. And Easter is a continuation of that.

On Good Friday, we commemorated not just a death, but a humiliation: A man stretched out in the most vulnerable pose imaginable, exposed to the elements and abuse and ridicule. Crucifixion was designed, it would seem, to humiliate. To exploit human weakness. To take would-be heroes or martyrs and turn them into pitiable, prosaic lumps of flesh.

And on Easter, we celebrated. In that moment of ultimate weakness came eternal triumph. Crazy.

We are weak creatures, yes. But God can do remarkable things in our frailty. And even as I’m reminded a bit of my own weakness, I’m reminded that God sometimes does his best work through folks as weak and as whiny as I am. 

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