This Christmas as we consider what God’s greatest gift, what does it mean in your life? Can others see His love working in your relationships? Consider the following, what would you do if your spouse was burned beyond recognition, would your love overcome their disfigurement?
I was privileged to hear the following narrative that has been shared by others including renowned author, Max Lucado, and I now share it with you. It recounts a story, Dr. Maxwell Maltz originally shared in his book: You Changed My Life: Stories of Real People with Remarkable Hearts.
There was a man who found himself in the horrific situation of unsuccessfully attempting s to save his parents from a burning house. As He battled the fire he encountered intense heat and engulfing flames which almost took his own life. He ultimately escaped but his face was badly burned causing permanent disfigurement.
He was overcome by disappointment and guilt. He interpreted his loss and condition as punishment from God for his own failures. He shut himself away, isolated himself in one room, refusing to allow anyone, including his wife, to see him.
His wife was heartbroken and in her distress she sought help from Dr. Maltz, who was a highly regarded plastic surgeon. When she had explained the situation, the surgeon was deeply touched at her plight and that of her beloved husband. He comforted her with a remarkable statement, “I can restore his face” he said.
She knew the doctor’s intentions were genuine, but was still not convinced and explained further. Her husband had refused any and all attempts or offers of help in the past and she was absolutely sure he would refuse the doctor’s help also.
Perplexed Dr. Maltz asked, “Then why are you here…why the visit?”
She responded with solemn and unmistakable clarity, “I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life.”
Appalled and shocked, Dr. Maltz absolutely refused her request.
But he could not help but be stirred by the woman’s deep devotion for her husband and the extraordinary love that motivated such an appeal. He decided that he would go and attempt to speak with her husband.
Knocking on the man’s bedroom door, he announced, “I’m a plastic surgeon, and I want you to know that I can restore your face.”
No response or acknowledgement followed.
Dr. Maltz call to him again and begged him to “please come out”.
Again no answer.
The doctor knew he couldn’t leave without this man knowing what a rare and wondrous love awaited him on the other side of that locked door. So he leaned against it as he told this broken and wounded soul of his wife’s visit to his office along with her inquiry. “She wants me to disfigure her face,” he said, “to make her face like yours in the hope that you will let her back into your life. That’s how much she loves you.”
The air was silent as he waited breathlessly, but after a long pause Dr. Maltz began to leave. Then he heard a slight noise and watched as the door knob turn ever so slowly.
As tears ran down my cheeks all I could see was God’s own son, the glory of heaven, humbling himself to become an embryo, a single cell, a lump of “tissue” and according to some, not even human. But instead the God of the universe revered the miracle of conception and birth so highly, that He sent His son, to be born of a virgin, an earthly mother, a teenager, a girl who was the town “scandal” to walk the journey from the cradle to the cross.
Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us
And there, on Golgotha, covered in the disfigurement of my sin, the repulsive, putrid, death of my own filth and failures, hung a holy God, who said, “My child, I love you so much, that I have chosen the disfigurement of your sin, I will carry you shame, guilt and punishment, I will die so you don’t have to. When you can see that I paid your debt, then maybe you will accept my sacrifice the free gift of grace and allow me into your life.”
I pray that this Christmas, when we celebrate the amazing birth of our Savior, you will embrace Jesus as the one who was born in Bethlehem for you. Clothed in the radiant beauty of His Holiness sin’s disfigurement is gone and you are whole.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Merry Christmas and God bless you.