Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Scale

scale: that dreadful square thing with two perfectly matched places to hold my feet which used to hold my heart too. But now, I think of other things.

At my favorite little hole in the wall Thai place they asked me last night how hot I wanted my PadThai, on a scale of 1 to 5. I said a 3 because a little nose running would help my sniffles without the belly ache. In this case the number means enjoying my dinner or stop breathing.

The impossible--a movie I saw the other night about a family surviving the psunami and as I watch in horror and emotion floods my face, I cannot imagine placing this devastation on a mere scale all summed up by a single number jotted down in a record book kept on some shelf somewhere. The weight of it all leaves me a little speechless still. The way we could possibly try to sum up all that destruction and death and pain and brokenness in a single number on a single scale. The way we try to do that with human life.

In international ministry we talk in terms of a scale of negative ten to positive ten and the students we're reaching out to fall somewhere across it. I share a number and everyone knows what it means. Sometimes I even beg Jesus to work in terms of these numbers. Just bring her to a one before May, please Lord. In light of natural disaster and my Thai dinner, I think these eyes are seeing the human heart differently, a little more weighty then a single number across a scale, perhaps. A little more broken and whole lot more deceitful.

I think sometimes we can place so much trust in a number to tell us something and we forget the weight behind it. We forget the test and the pain and the ashes--and we forget what beauty looks like.

For instance, when I share that my Korean friend is at minus two, it says a lot. But what that leaves out is the night where we talked about the darkness God brought me out of and her connection to that over dinner last month. It doesn't account for the friend that died last week and the conversation about life after death which left her wanting more. Nor does it show the snapshot of her opening a Christmas present in my hometown {given to her by my Jewish mom} and the way she brought my broken family together. It doesn't tell anyone about the way she grew up alone. Nor does it testify to the day that the church over there told her she was hell-bount and belonged there. See, that two means something, it does—but without the ashes the beauty isn't quite so glorious, is it?

And so now when I square up my feet every Thursday {and I wait a little bit anxiously} for that number to reveal itself, it says a lot less about who I am and a lot more about what God is doing in me.

The truth is the scale was home to my greatest enslavement those eight years and today I praise God for His grace, binoculars to these wondering eyes that are learning beauty.

And as I begin to see life in terms of scales--in terms of numbers that tell me how vast a tragedy or how dangerous a food, I don't really think a single number could never account for life lost in that psnumai--nor could a single number depict my worth.

This week I bet those chocolate covered pretzels and gingerbread pita chips {those things have got to be drugged or something} that have been sustaining a large part of my diet might show up in those three digits that light up. That used to consume me. It used to ruin me. But now it's okay because what that number doesn't tell is the nearly six pounds of twin glory inside my best friend's belly this week. It doesn't tell about the sweet time of celebration and encouragement had over that food {which still lingers leftover in my house} at her shower this past weekend.

So more and more I have to remember people are more then a number—and a life defined by one is not a life lived full. As it is, life is messy and dark sometimes--but perspective so much more beautiful when you've been there, when you overcome because of He who lives inside. Every week as I stand two feet squared up, the scale reminds me that only God could possibly take the mess I am and make something beautiful.

And when we realize the beauty is in His work inside and not so much our futile attempts to modify the outside, well I guess that's where the story starts to matter more then the number.

Redemption. In Christ, it's yours too.

...and please go read Amber Haines because she loves Jesus, lives out redemption, and raises four lil guys too. {And because when I grow up, I want to write like her.}


  1. Hi Courtney
    I just checked Amber's blog if there was not another entry on scales and well, here I am speechless at how "the church" hurt that poor girl so much. I am so glad that not one of us is a number in Hs eyes. Even the mad ones running around the graves are precious to Him!!!! This makes me angry and I think our Pappa God too!
    Much love

  2. Yes, so thankful He calls us beloved. Now that the church may speak the gospel louder. Thanks for sharing!