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Spiritual Scars

Numbers 35:33
“You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.”

Man can’t thunder over the uncultivated landscape of the future the words, “Let it be,” and cause his ambitions to find fruition. He can’t conform the mysterious forces of Providence to align with his mental projections. His God-infused power of thought and will are not so divine as that, which is why the psalmist utters in exasperation, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” It’s only when we recognize that we are nothing on our own will and have nothing of our own making that we’re able to learn better who we are. Nevertheless, while the rampant pseudo-spiritualists and hyper humanists need a reality check against their egotistical mysticism, we saints could do with a bit more recognition of the power that our thoughts, words, and deeds really do have in the world around us.

Consider how a murderous thought that plays out into a murderous deed doesn’t just stain a moment in time, or a pair of jeans, or an individual conscience, but the whole created order. A murderous act from one image-bearing brother to another invisibly but manifestly pollutes the earth, which is why God says that the earth groaned after Cain’s murder of Abel. We don’t need to understand that mystery in order to recognize the weight of it.

When my parents first moved to Cary to start the church, we lived in a little rented house that was sort of haunted. Weird things happened there. My mom recalls hearing footsteps coming up and down the stairs when no one was there. Voices, noises; things like that. Well, sure enough, before moving, a neighbor informed my parents that the previous owner of the home had murdered his wife there. No surprise! In fact, I firmly believe that the places where people claim to experience paranormal activity like that are places that have been stained in the blood of a horrible crime from one human over another, as if a traumatized earth hasn’t forgotten the deed.

The point: our sins will find us out, and they leave scars on the world we can’t erase.