The Woman Who Is “Jesus With Skin On” to Me

Posted: Oct 16, 2015


by Robin Williams, facilitator of the Blazing Grace Wives Groups

I’ve had a mentor/friend for the last several months who meets me at a local coffee shop. Looking back, I realized it was a divinely appointed God connection. I was struggling with depression, and for the first time in my life, I humbled myself and asked my new pastor to find someone to walk with me on my journey. There were many doubts and fears associated with sharing my brokenness with another woman. Relationships haven’t been easy for me. Many have caused me such great pain, I often build up walls before I enter a new relationship as a protection against rejection or any possible breach of trust. As I look back on our first meeting, I can see God’s hand and His desire to provide the perfect friend to walk beside me in my pain. It felt like the hand of God when she reached across the table and placed her hand on top of mine. Her words were simple and matter of fact. “God loves you just like you are.”

This tiny and gentle woman became my Jesus with skin on when she uttered those 7 simple words. I asked myself how she could have known the very words I needed so desperately to hear.  I’ve lived most of my adult life in condemnation, feelings of failure and the deep fear of abandonment. It was our first meeting and I only shared what felt comfortable to me that day. In some ways, I think it was a bit like Peter stepping out onto the water, trusting this hand of another would lift me to a place of hope and faith, not only renewed faith in God but a faith in others.

My memories of that day are still so clear. Her quiet, compassionate response minus any sense of condemnation and judgment, made it possible for my heart to open like a flower unfolding ever so gently. As I think back on those moments, I realize she represented the nature of Christ to me as surely as if He’d been sitting across the table Himself. If she’d said, “Where are your accusers? Is there anyone that is able to cast a stone at you?” I’d likely have blinked to see if He’d entered to take her place.

Not one interruption to ask questions or dig deeper for an understanding of my situation. She just listened, her eyes fixed on my face, her spirit fixed on my heart. Her calm acceptance opened the door for me to share my heart without fear of  repercussions, suggestions or negative reactions. As I spoke haltingly about a sinful mistake I’d made, it felt as if I were laying my heart out on the table between us. Even as I shared, I was aware that I searched her face for clues, signs of disgust or disappointment in who I was or perhaps a clue as to what she thought of me. Somehow she looked full on at the sacrifice of confession I’d laid down in front of her without a hint of judgment. She saw me bleeding out of the deepest wounds of my heart and simultaneously saw the woman I want to become. Perhaps she saw how deeply I was mired in my past. Still, no pointing fingers, no blame or condemnation. Only mercy and love as she reached out to touch me, covering my hand with hers. “There’s only been one perfect man,” she said. “What would there be for us to learn on this journey if we were perfect?”

Perfect? Perhaps that was it, for many years I’d been striving for some illusive idea of perfection. If I just dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s and avoided certain sins, I’d find my way to the top of His accepted and approved list. Of course, now I’d come to realize all my trying to be perfect, even good, in my own strength had set me up for failure. I knew the words of the apostle Paul in Romans.

“For I know nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]” (Romans 7:18)

And if the inner turmoil, I’ve worked so carefully to hide in  relationships, has been leaking out through the cracks of what I thought was a carefully constructed veneer, then my best efforts have certainly been futile. Over the next weeks, when alone, I continued to feel the slow leakage, the shameful feelings of disappointment with myself. But when I’d meet with my new friend, I found I could be myself again.

Each time I’d meet with her, our time together became more comfortable for me. My fears of being really known by another woman began to dissipate.  I began to drop my defenses and my usual struggles of  “what another might think of me” began to disappear. It was the way she handled my heart with such tender loving care that made the difference.

I finally worked up the courage to share with her my love for God’s Word since a child and how I’d even gone back to school after retiring from teaching to obtain a Master’s Degree in theology. Surely she would question how a thorough study of God’s Word for four years should have made a difference in how I responded to God in my personal life. I prepared myself for her response, since I was certain this would be the moment when she’d remind me of the consequences of transgressing the commandments of God’s Word.

I will never forget the words that escaped her lips that day as she looked me right in the eye and quietly said , “I bet you know all the right words.” I only remember the tears coursing down my face as I remember how those words pierced my heart, like the Bible says, like a sword, dividing the soul and the spirit. This was a memorable moment, a moment when God used her gentle way, to become His mouthpiece, speaking His truth directly into my heart. She could have never guessed, that only days before, I’d read similar words straight from Jesus mouth to my heart. He’d once spoken them to His disciples, but that day the words were there just for me. “…My word makes no progress in you.” On that day, I knew there were things that had never taken the journey from my head to my heart. Despite all the study and well written papers as evidence of my head knowledge of Biblical material, it appeared my heart had not been informed of the freedom that was to be gained once the Word truly made progress within.

My mentor had not only spoken what God revealed to her heart but she had exhibited the kind of love that would open my heart to receive the truth. I knew God was confirming there were some very important truths I had simply given mental assent to in Word of God. My heart had not yet fully accepted and believed the single most important truth of His Word, the depth of His approval, acceptance and love for me. There had been no “you need to, should haves, or you could try these steps,” coming from my mentor’s lips, only a willing vessel being used to speak the truth without reproach.

While my resume will show I have a Masters Degree in theology, my own personal understanding of what God had done for me, in and through Jesus Christ, was still somehow lacking. My inability to let go of my past failures and a heavy burden of guilt and shame, left me with an improper image of self and God. From the “God is love” verse of Sunday School days and my picture of the kind Jesus with the halo around his smiling face, I realized the face I saw now was one of disappointment and disdain. My heart had never fully accepted the words of  II Corinthians 5:19.

“It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against {men} their trespasses [but cancelling them]…”

As I sat across the table from this beautiful woman who opened her heart to be my friend, God opened my eyes to the fear I’d had in my relationship with God. In Genesis 3:8, we read of Adam and Eve’s response to God after their sinful rebellion.

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

In an environment where God had surrounded them with His provision, His presence and loving communion, they hid themselves from the very One in whose image they’d been created. In verse 10, it continues with the following words, “I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

 I felt ashamed and filled with disappointment in myself. I was carrying a load of guilt, shame and reproach for past and present failures and fearing the same would dominate my future.

As the weeks have passed, my mentor and I have spoken about our family heritage, legacies we want to leave behind to our children and simple things like cooking, picture taking and caring for our families. The friendship is growing and changing as  my heart continues to unfold to trust someone who has listened to some of my deepest failures without a pointing finger or any fear of condemnation.

I’ve grown to love my new friend, specially chosen, and sent to me when I reached out for help.  I realize my greatest need, at my lowest point, was someone to represent Jesus. I needed someone who could point me back to the Only perfect one. No fingers pointing in judgment were necessary.   It was never about how my mentor could share her journey with me, make suggestions or tell me the five step plan for finding the answers. She loved me right where I was, accepted me fully and became my friend. In a very simple way she pointed me back to the God who is love.

When my mentor told me she had come as my friend that day, I was strengthened to make the journey back to the heart of God. I’m guessing she doesn’t realize just how much she represented the Savior to me over the last months. I’m sure she wouldn’t know that hearing a certain song at church made me think of her. But then, someone like my new friend, who becomes the love of Christ to one who is hurting would perhaps never suspect the impact they’ve had on another person’s life as she has mine.

It’s with a heart of deep gratitude I wrote this for my mentor, Kay, and for my Savior for finding me such a special friend.

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday has disappeared
The dirt has washed away
And now it’s clear
There’s only grace
There’s only love,
There’s only mercy and believe me it’s enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there’s nothing left now
There’s only grace.
And if you should fall again
Get back up, get back up
Reach out and take my hand
And get back up again.
I love you Kay!