A devotion shared at my college’s Chapel service yesterday. An expansion/adaptation of a previous post…
Who here has watched the movie Wonder that was in cinemas earlier this year? I think it is the only movie that I’ve ever seen in the cinemas twice.
Well the movie Wonder, based on a kids novel of the same name, tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a fifth grader born with the genetic disorder Treacher Collins syndrome, which is characterized by facial deformities. As he enters mainstream schooling for the first time, he is faced with the challenges of being different and feeling ugly, leaving him longing to look normal so that he can just blend in.
When I watched the movie there were two lines that stood out to me. Early on in the movie, after a particularly rough day at school, Auggie’s mum is reassuring him that he’s not ugly. Auggie brushes it off, that she’s only saying that because she’s his mum, to which she responds “Because I’m your mom it counts the most because I know you the most.”
The second line is towards the end of the movie. Auggie had always had a tendency to hide his face behind an astronaut helmet. But at one point Auggie’s dad turns to him and, speaking of Auggie’s face, says, “I know you don’t always like it but I love it. It’s my son’s face. I want to see it.”
These two lines are statements by loving parents trying to help their son see that, despite his scars and flaws, he is loved no less. And, not only that, but that it is because of how well his parents know him, that they love him so much.
What struck me about these two quotes from the movie is that it was because his parents knew him so well that they not only loved him but also loved his face. For Auggie’s dad this love is to the point that he doesn’t want his son to hide, but wants to be able to see all of him, scarred face and all.
It made me ponder the love that our Heavenly Father/Mother must have for us. Psalm 139 begins, “Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.” We have a God who knows everything there is to know about us, a God who knows the scars and the ugly. Surely then, mightn’t God say to us:
“Because I’m your God it counts the most because I know you the most.”
“I know you don’t always like it but I love it. It’s my child’s face. I want to see it.”
To me that is a powerful love. It is a love that knows no limits. A love that sees each individual as unique and knows and treats them as such. We might feel ugly or scarred or like we have failed, to the point that we want to hide, but that is not going to do anything to diminish the love that God has for us. It is a love that is only made stronger because God knows those things about us.
As I was preparing for chapel today I kept thinking about the idea of hiding. Like I’m assuming some of you I preached on Sunday about Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem, and yet, as we move through this week, to Maundy Thursday tomorrow and then Good Friday, there is a change to the mood. There’s a shift from a sense of celebration to one of fear and darkness and betrayal and shame. When I think that the coming events are because of me and for me I really just feel like hiding. I’m broken and scarred and inadequate and regret things that I’ve done. And a natural response would be to hide. But that’s not what God wants. I’m sure God says to us, “I know you don’t always like you but I LOVE YOU. You are my child. I want to see you.” And just when we start to doubt whether those words count the response is “Because I’m your God it counts the most because I know you the most”.
There was a discussion about this movie in my class last night, and a third quote came up. In a discussion about Auggie’s mum’s grey hair (which she blames on her husband) she says to him,
“We all have marks on our faces.
[Holding hand to heart] This is the map that shows us where we are going.
[Pointing to face] And this is the map that shows us where we’ve been.”
Scars and marks are just part of life in this world we are living. And, spoiler alert, Jesus didn’t come out of this coming weekend without any either. God knows what it is like.
And because God know what it is like, and because God knows us, we don’t need to hide. We may be approaching the scary part of Easter, but at the heart of it is love, love from a God who knows, and love from a God from whom we don’t have to hide.