Friends we come to you tonight with heavy hearts. After a beautiful day of ministry at Mgamudze, we held our final two revival services in the Nhlangano area. This week has been full of beautiful moments of ministry, of grace. Our hearts are full; but or hearts are also heavy. We said goodbye today to some of our favorite Swazi friends. Some we have known for 20+ years. It never ceases that these goodbyes rip our hearts apart. If you been to Swaziland, then you know what we mean when we say, “It’s so hard to leave your heart.” As so many of us have said goodbye before, tonight we ripped open old wounds. We’ve said goodbye to many of these friends before, but it never gets any easier to feel those scars.
Scars are an interesting concept. When the flesh of the body is ripped open, torn in two and left to heal, it never goes back to the way it was. The skin heals, yes, but marks are left. Reminders of those old wounds. They fade with time too, but are never exactly the same as they were. Scars change us, they remake us, they transfigure us.
The intensity of the tightening in our chests tonight is alarming; a heart-attack like swelling and squeezing of these fleshy, pulpy hearts as they beat senseless in their cages. Those old wounds ripped open again by goodbyes that we never want to come. Wounds that never fully heal, even with time. Scars.
But our Savior knew of scars. His brow cracked open by a crown of thorns, his hands and feet pierced by iron nails, his side split open. A resurrected savior who came to us with scars. Jesus understands our heartbreak, our pain, and despair in wishing our friends goodbye because he bore the weight of the cross. He scarred himself so that we would only know the valley of the shadow of death, not the valley of death itself. Jesus in our place. Even in goodbye, the Gospel message brings hope and comfort in a broken world.
We rest in the comfort tonight that Jesus knows our scars. He feels our heartbreak for our friends, for this nation, and for one another. He understands our despair and sorrow. Jesus’ scars led to resurrection; our scars lead to eternity with the precious, precious souls we said goodbye to tonight. It’s never truly goodbye, only see you in Ezulwini. (Heaven) Amen.