Psalm 66 is the praise of a scarred man. You should read it. And be prepared to hear from other scarred people at CONFERENCE this year!
Scars are storytelling things. They have stories that remind us who we were, where we were, and leaves us forever changed. I have a scar above one eye from a swing set mishap when I was 10 or 12. I have a scar on my finger from a glass breaking as I was washing the dishes during my first year of marriage. Another scar on my leg from a rock at the shore. That small bump on my chest where my heart procedure took place….
Scars that take me back to specific moments in time and make otherwise normal and obscure details become clear as day and unforgettable. They don’t heal and grow to be invisible over time. They are harder skin, raised up and a different colour or pressed down and dark. You can’t ignore them. They draw the eye away from the normal, mundane skin all around and call for attention. They call up questions in other people. There are stories to tell and sometimes laugher and amazement from crazy times, sometimes pain and sadness because they are the stories that didn’t end well.
My dad’s large scar on his head every time I cut his hair takes me right back to the first night after surgery and walking past the nurses station to enter his room. Things were bleak in that moment. That scar has seconds that have turned into years attached to it.
We all have scars. Some deeper and more obvious, others smaller and less dramatic.
So what about your other scars? What about the scarred dreams, scarred purity, scarred and wasted time? Every once in a while (or constant maybe?) a picture or circumstance or conversation makes that emotional scar ache or itch a little. They can’t be forever forgotten. Forgiven? Yes! Forgotten? No.
Scars are our moments of the faithfulness of God standing tall and showing a different shade in our lives. They are God’s graces pressed down and dark with remembrance. People with scars connect well with other scarred people. Women sharing birth stories, kids sharing swing set mishaps, chemo patients seeing the bald head and immediately connect on a deeper level. Scars bring intimacy. I see your scars. I carry them too. We are none of us perfect, we all are carriers of God’s amazing grace bringing us through each trial in accordance with his perfect plan.
My scars may look ugly to you, but I learned valuable lessons from each place I got them. Every year my anniversary is a scarred reminder of the hard years and how God miraculously brought us through. Every time a picture of a certain place we lived comes across my path I’m reminded of God’s heavy hand of teaching and training that was on me while there. He brought me through.
Each place I was brought through stands taller and is shaded lighter and shows itself more. ‘Remember God’s faithfulness’ is what those scars tell me to do. If He brought me through once He can do it again.
The Israelites have life scars, too. A bunch of them are written down and passed on to me in Scripture so that I can see God’s hand of faithfulness in other lives in big ways. It builds my trust and patience in my own circumstance to see the way He worked in other messy lives. Remember Noah and the flood… Abraham and Sarah waiting so long for God’s promise… Pharaoh killing all the Hebrew babies… 40 years of wandering in the wilderness… during the time of the judges constantly being overpowered by their enemies…
Scars are not about us. My jagged marks in life aren’t about me. They are the marks of grace given to a sinner from a merciful God who has every right to do away with me right now and not allow for anymore remembrances. What is Shannon that thou art mindful of her? Why do you patiently keep working and healing and creating a scar-filled highway from her life? I’m not proud of my scars. They aren’t feathers in my cap. If I focus on my part in those scars it brings me down. If I’m the key player in those stories I become defeated. My part is so depressing. But God who is rich in mercy and that amazing love wherewith he loved me is the highlight in those moments along my life’s highway. Grace stands taller, stronger, calling for my attention. It aches with the deep humble gratefulness when reminders come. It has built compassion for those in the middle of being wounded right now. It’s built trust that the same God who healed me and made things stronger somehow in my life is working the same miracles in the lives of those around me.
A sign of a surrendered heart is the willingness to bear the marks of the Lord Jesus. Do you have the mind of Christ or do you have your own? How you suffer and heal changes when you lay your life down the way Christ did. He laid it down to the death. I can ‘seek my own’, and instead of healing stronger and God being raised up brighter in my weakness, the wound festers and gets infected. And the tell-tale sign of bigger problems are those red streaks that start travelling up the skin straight toward the heart. Wounds not dealt with properly eventually attack your main source of life.
My son broke his leg a couple of years ago. After it should have healed in that one spot after surgery we didn’t know infection was brewing under that cast. His symptoms were being blamed on the flu. But then I happened to see that sore spot. Red, hot, and lines spreading up his leg showing it’s goal was reaching the heart and, unless we dealt with the actual problem, infection would win. But with some proper treatment of the infection things improved quickly and now we just have a scar instead of death. Yet another reminder both physically and spiritually that a problem not dealt with turns into more. If it doesn’t turn into Christ it turns into more of us…. something that is never pretty and always leads to death.
2 Corinthians 11:30 ” If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.” That means I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses… I will boast about my scars that shout out about my mess and all God has done to heal and show His power, not mine.
With that thought in mind, read this:
2 Corinthians 12:8- “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Take a look at your scars. They are beautiful. They shout out of Christ’s work and faithfulness in your life. Do not be discouraged in your pain today, for God is being raised up in your life for tomorrow. Live to that end!