Monday, November 5, 2012

Trophy Scars


We all have them. 

Some are products of daring and bravado.  Some are the end results of negligence.  Some are the remnants of the handiwork of a skilled surgeon's precise incisions.  All are points of healing that have left us marked and changed forever. 


Some represent deep painful wounds.  Some were merely scratches.  Some were born of a source of deep pain.  Some were formed by injuries scarcely noticed until blood was seen.  Some scars are deep, penetrating down into muscle and interconnected tissues.  Some are barely noticeable, light pencil-thin discolorations on the surface of our skin.  Each one of them drew blood, many of them a great deal of blood.

One day a little four-year old boy decided it would be fun to lay on his belly on one of the dining room chairs while mother fixed dinner.  Shifting his weight to and fro, he loved the thrill of the rocking motion.  Back and forth, back and forth....the legs on one side rose just a little and he giggle in delight.  Again, back and forth.  He had little notion that the chair could actually tip over; that it would send him cascading forward, head first.  This small child landed solidly with a wet, crunching "thud" directly on his chin, splitting it wide.  Frantically the mother gathered her wailing son up as blood ran down his neck, staining her shirt and rushed him to the hospital.  Hours later, a line of hairy stitches was newly present to hold skin together where blood once poured. 

To this day, I still bear this scar.  I can show my children exactly where I landed and feel the knot on the bones of my chin.  Did I die that day?  Did my wound take me from this life?  No; sutures were sewn, healing occurred, and though I had "funny bumps" on my chin, life went on.  I also learned not rock on dining room chairs on my stomach. 

Every one of us has these stories.  Every one of these stories, in its own manner, is a story of overcoming where bodies mended and life continued.  But these stories of physical recovery are, believe it or not, the easy ones; whether you've recovered from that paper cut that caused you to grit your teeth or you've endured the ruthless marathon of surgeries that forced therapies and tissue rebuilding. 

The deepest scars are those forced through the internal wounding of the heart.  And we all have those don't we?  Betrayals, injustices, broken relationships; people who simply did not fulfill their end of our perceived expectations.  Often, we'll ignore the scalpel in our own hand as we focus on the blade in theirs.  Words continue to cut past tissue and marrow to the very core of our beings and the damage is devastating.  A shell of pride is defensively constructed to protect and conceal a heart hemorrhaging insecurity, starving for self-worth, and pierced by the sharp pain of lost fellowship.  A return volley is exchanged or, worse - the deafening oppression of silence as relationship is broken.

He sat on the hillside overlooking the city.  The sun had set and the moon was just rising casting pale luminance upon the landscape.  He had sent the others away as he needed some time to himself.  He could smell the cook fires, taste the acrid perfume of the smoke rising from the valley.  Vast and sprawling, the city stretched throughout the valley where the masses were still bustling below.  He could hear carts moving on paved streets as shop keeps moved their wares for the day.  Throngs moved through the canyons of buildings, making their way from the day's work to homes and families.  Mothers called children and the night's watch was heralded as torches blazed here and there, reflecting off of the occasional armored soldier's helm or jeweled wealthy.  Rivers of humanity flowing, lost.  His love for them pierced his heart painfully.  Lost, all of them.  Tears welled as a knot choked his throat.  How he longed for them to accept him, to listen and receive him.  Couldn't they see?  Why did they reject him so?  Why did their leaders fear him and despise him?  Couldn't they open their eyes and see the truth?  Why couldn't they open their hearts to his love for them?

"O Jerusalem, you who continue to kill the prophets and to stone those who are sent to you! How often I have desired and yearned to gather your children together around Me, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you would not!"
Luke 13:34 AMP

We are quite familiar with the notion of a Saviors' bloodied body, torn and broken for our redemption.  Have we ever pondered a Saviors' torn heart, scarred with loss beyond description.  Have we ever pondered that we serve a Savior that has "imperfections"?  These imperfections are the scars that he willingly bore and continues to bear for each of us, for all humanity.  He had Thomas touch them, He wants us to look at them, He wears them proudly because His scars are the continual reminder of a price paid and a victory won.  His scars are a beacon across the heavens that proclaim the finality of His lordship and victory over the powers of hell and the purchase of His beloved from damnation. 

Picture the anguish of carefully walking one's life in complete sinless obedience only to become a murdering, rapist, pedophile, thief, who was a heathen, drunkard, drug-addict, spouse-abusing, swearing, adulterous, child-abusing, deviant criminal subject to the extreme penalties of all laws regarding these behaviors;  this is what was laid upon His shoulders - this is the rejection that pierced His heart as His most beloved Father turned from Him as he hung on those timbers He was cruelly nailed to by those He sought to love.  And why? 

"Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame."
Hebrews 12:2

Many of us have scars on our hearts.  Many are closed over festering wounds that plague us still, continually bringing dull heartache.  Some have kept us from approaching a risen Savior and Holy God for the shame of what lies beneath.  Jesus understands what it is to turn heartache to victory, pain to triumph.  Forgiveness is His model for the release of infection, confession His antiseptic for healing.  Scars will be present, but hearts will be strengthened and reunited in the trial rather than left as collateral damage in the wake of words. 

Though we do not love the pain, we can learn to appreciate the growth that comes as a result of the wounding.  We can learn to appreciate our scars because they can each be trophies of achievements accomplished, of hearts strengthened, of victories won.  When we examine the beauty in His scars, we'll see the value of our own.

"The scar on my arm is fading. I pray that the manner in which I obtained that scar does not fade from my mind..."

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