“I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on.
The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that.
Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.
Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private.
Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?
The young woman speaks.
“Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.”
“I like it,” he says, “It is kind of cute.”
All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.”
This story has haunted me ever since I’ve read it. It has sung a siren song through the depths of my cerebral cortex and hasn’t stopped.
I imagine the woman looking up at the man. The man gazing with his eyes, lovingly, warmly. I imagine the man looking back at the woman, working up her porcelain neck, blonde hairs spread across the linen of the pillow, delicate chin, and a nasty, ugly, contorted mouth. She tries to cover it, eyes red with sadness and shame, yet it goes nowhere. I see me in her. She is me. And you.
I’ve written about this before, and trust me, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written and so I’m a little rusty on my skills but that’s not really the point here.
What I’m saying is that the story of the man and the woman with the mouth contorted is the story of the Gospel.
Our lips are contorted by sin. The nerve was cut long ago and we are sinful by nature. We are inherently sinful beings. Babies come out of the womb beautiful yet contorted from the beginning once the first fist of life is punched through the air.
Then, this man, who is FULLY GOD let me tell you. Very holy, very righteous. Because He’s God.
Oh but let me tell you this too: This man is also fully, fully man.
Fully man being he woke up with the same temptations we do. He woke up with the struggles dancing around us in the morning. He had the choice and the temptation to put His own worth in His friends and what people said about Him. He had the temptation to get unreasonably angry. He had the temptation to curse people. He had the temptation to lust. Power was at His fingertips! He could do whatever He well pleased!
He fought. And he lived a perfect life. No sin. No sinful thoughts. He ran straight towards the Lord and fought the good fight for our contorted mouths and souls.
So let’s go back to that story.
The husband was shown His bride, her mouth contorted permanently, and He bent down to her.
This man, this perfect man, has bent down to reach us a time or two.
There once was a woman caught in adultery. And by caught in adultery, I mean she was literally caught bare naked butt naked with another man who was NOT her husband and was thrown to the ground..naked..and drug into the middle of the street.
Roman law, MOSES’ LAW, at the time was to stone individuals for punishment against adultery. So the pharisees called on Jesus for some truth. He paused, drew something into the dirt, looked up, and said “whomever hasn’t sinned can throw the first stone”.
So everybody left.
Jesus said, “go and sin no more.” to the woman.
I see the woman in my head. I imagine the woman looking up at Jesus. The man gazing with his eyes, lovingly, warmly. I imagine the man looking back at the woman, working up her porcelain neck, blonde hairs spread across the dirt of the street, her delicate chin, and a nasty, ugly, contorted mouth. She tries to cover it, eyes red with sadness and shame, yet it goes nowhere. I see me in her. She is me. And you.
and He bends down.
How about when the woman who bled for 12 years and was forced to tell every town she went into that she was “unclean”? She tugged on Jesus’ robe as he walked through the crowded streets. Jesus turned around and asked “who touched me?” as His friend said “Jesus there is a crowd. Everybody is touching you.” But Jesus TURNED AROUND and saw the woman. She trembled and sobbed at His feet. The bleeding had stopped.
Jesus bent down.
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
I imagine the woman looking up at the man. The man gazing with his eyes, lovingly, warmly. I imagine the man looking back at the woman, working up her porcelain neck, blonde hairs spread across stone of the road, her delicate chin, and a nasty, ugly, contorted mouth. She tries to cover it, eyes red with sadness and shame, yet it goes nowhere. I see me in her. She is me. And you.
it comes after the bending.
I close my eyes and see Jesus sweating in the garden. Sweating blood. Begging God to take His cup away from Him. Begging Him not to die.
But Jesus’ prayer wasn’t answered. You and I were saved by the kiss of an unanswered prayer.
By getting murdered on the cross, He contorted His lips to fit our already bedraggled lips.
If you grew up where I grew up, or even remotely close, you’ve heard of Jesus before.
But I had to ask myself this question a few months ago and I had to answer it the hard way:
Do you REALLY believe in the story of Jesus? Is your veil of unbelief lifted? Do you believe that the Son of God was truly born of a virgin, lived 33 years on Earth as a perfect man, performed miracles, ate holy dinners, walked on water, healed the blind, met a squad of friends and their paralyzed brother, woke Lazarus up from the dead, befriended Zaccheus, loved those who denied him, was given the kiss of betrayal in the garden, endured the pain and suffering and blood loss and death all for the sake that you would know His name and be able to run into His arms the SECOND after our last breath?
Drop your pride for a second, drop reality for a second and drink this in:
The One who molded the universe on his kitchen counter takes a look at the galaxies that we are dying to see and goes “eh” in comparison to YOU.
He’s your real father.
For us. Jesus did this. For us. The creator of the universe is your father.
We walk through halls and corridors of churches, stare out of stained glass, let the organ harps string through our arteries as Jesus knocks on our brain to listen to Him.
Why are we acting like this is casual? Why are we choosing to limp through life?! Why are we choosing to drag the weight of our hearts by our own will?
BECAUSE GOD IS ON OUR SIDE, WE ARE ABLE TO DO LITERALLY ANYTHING IN HIS NAME. THE SAME SPIRIT THAT WAS INSIDE OF JESUS WHEN HE
IS SCUFFLING INSIDE OF US. CALLING OUR NAME. CALLING US TO PUT UP OUR FISTS AND FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH. CHOOSING TO FOLLOW JESUS ON THE ADVENTURE OF LIFE. And this adventure isn’t a hammock, thunder, coffee on the top of the hill kind of adventure.
He’s calling us to something much more dangerous, much more deadly, much more fulfilling, much more purposeful.
EVEN WITH OUR MOUTHS CONTORTED, HE WANTS US.
He CHASES US.
So turn around.
Trust Him with the weight of your heart. Sit with Him. Close your eyes and stop pursuing this melancholy life of “doing things for the Lord” and instead BE with the Lord. He is literally all you need. Because of the gap you feel in your being, you need Jesus more than you need water itself.
Do you believe that?
So embrace the crooked kiss. Drop your guilt. Drop your sins. Drop your resentment. Drop the grudge. Go outside and run and scream and stick your tongue out and feel the cold wet air. Wear what you want and love to the point where it’s embarrassing. Don’t you get it? Don’t you get it? You are free. Actually free in Christ’s love. Because of His kiss, you can be free. Take a deep breath. Right now. Feel your lungs pulling your chest up. Notice that your heart beats without you even trying. Everything is magical. Everything works magically. Everything works in order, no matter how screwed up we may think we are, we still live here in this spinning world free because of His love. Free because of His kiss.
I’ve written this before, but I will be really honest:
I am embarrassed that I have fallen back into the trap of minimizing God by focusing on myself.
So Kellie, get over yourself.
Fix your eyes on the truth of the kiss.
Instead of focusing on struggle, instead of being angry, instead of distracting yourself, instead of wishing you had better, instead of wishing time would go on, INSTEAD OF WASTING TIME, do this:
Focus on the cross.
Focus on the life Jesus has given to you.
Listen to His voice. You are making it smaller than it is.
His voice roars louder than a thousand suns inside of your soul.
Let it pour out.
Go and be still.
Remember the kiss. There’s no shame anymore.
Believe that. I promise you that I will with you.
If you’re thinking that you “have to get your act together” before talking to Jesus, turn around and look into His eyes. He’s been there the whole time and I promise you, He’s not scared. He has watched it all, and He wants you all the more.