“And He is before all things and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
The patient population I serve is very prone to skin cancer, hence we have a once weekly clinic that is devoted purely to surgical removals of basal or squamous cell carcinomas and even thin melanomas. These procedures are pretty straightforward and only minimally invasive. The actual excision of the tumor itself is fairly quick. What requires more time and patience is the process of closing the surgical wound, which is often done in two layers. The superficial row of stitches, the one that the patient can see, closes just the very top layers of the skin and improves the cosmetic appearance of the final scar. Buried underneath, however, is the more critical set of sutures that bear the tension of the wound and hold the full thickness of the skin together, while healing takes place in the next several weeks. Each and every dermatology resident who has worked with me would have been indoctrinated about the importance of those deep sutures in repairing the surgical defect and preventing wound dehiscence (i.e. separation of the wound edges).
What is holding us…
Ancient ruins attract lots of visitors. For approximately 20 British pounds each, my husband and I (and a multitude of other tourists) were allowed a close-up view of the sarsens and bluestones that make up the Stonehenge monument just north of Salisbury, England. Mysterious and fascinating, this circular arrangement of megaliths, is one of Europe’s most remarkable pre-historic ruins. As my handy audio guide narrated in fine British accent all that had changed about this architectural structure since 3,000 BC, I marveled at everything that remained standing. There is something very impressive about the ability to withstand conditions of wear and tear through centuries.
In this imperfect world with imperfect people, things fall apart quite easily. And not just things. Faced with illnesses, relational conflicts, job losses and crises of all sorts, it is not hard to feel like we ourselves are falling apart. The hardships that we face in this life are real and I don’t think it is helpful to simply disregard the pain and hurt that follow when lives fall apart. Nonetheless we should not avoid asking ourselves the question – what exactly is holding us? Is it our goals, our human relationships, our health and the stability of our circumstances that we count on to keep us in one piece? While these are good and precious gifts from God, they can NEVER hold us together. Much like superficial stitches that improve the aesthetic outcome of skin surgery but are unable to prevent the wound from breaking apart, all of these things (and people) that we love and cherish are not meant to sustain us at the core of our being. They cannot bear the tension of sin. Only Christ can.
Christ alone holds us…
When the apostle Paul raved about the supremacy of Christ in Colossians chapter 1, he said “and in him all things hold together.” So there it is. He who was there from the beginning and through whom all things were created (John 1:2-3 “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” ), he likewise holds all things together. Christ and only Christ keeps us from being crushed into pieces. As long as we are his, even in our lowest and most desperate moments, we can be assured that Christ is in fact holding all things within and around us, both visible and invisible, and that is all that matters.
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13
When things go awry, my reflex is to chase after the parts and pieces that are trying to break off from where I would prefer them to stay. If you’ve tried that, I’m sure you’ve also experienced what an exercise in futility that could be. Our Father, in his goodness, wants us to stop trying to pull ourselves together and start trusting him to do the mending. He never said it would be painless. He never said it would be quick. But the Greatest Healer is more than able to seal the gaping wounds of our human weaknesses, repair our brokenness, and restore our souls in him.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
“He restores my soul, he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3.
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
Songwriters: Mark Hall / Matthew West / Bernie Herms