Scars Can Tell a Different Story
We are often ashamed of our imperfections. We think they are ugly and scary. And we try to hide them. Yet the contours of scars that shape our lives can tell a different story. They can speak to our victory in Christ. Pastor Josh shares more of the story below.
As a child of two parents who worked full-time, I grew up going to daycare. In many ways, the experience shaped me into the person I am today.
One of my fondest memories consists of an in-home daycare that featured a long metal slide gloriously towering in the backyard playground. This beacon of childhood fantasy served as center stage to countless epic adventures.
Surrounding the playground stood a canopy of majestic oak trees with limbs that produced an armory of stick-swords. The soft sand that cushioned my tender feet often transformed into molten lava that was to be avoided at all costs. And still nothing quite compared to that slide.
The dizzying height alone, at least to a young elementary schooler, gave me a bird's-eye view of my expansive kinder-kingdom.
Little did I know that climbing to the top of this hawk's nest would provide the backdrop to an experience that is permanently carved into my chinny-chin-chin.
I remember it being a sweltering-hot day. I had grabbed an apple to snack on and B-lined it to the backyard. The afternoon sunshine reflected off the metal slide and drew me in like a fly to zapper. I just couldn't resist.
I scurried up the steps two at a time. Once I reached the top, I sat down ready to launch myself down the 45-degree chute.
But I failed to consider the ramifications of my fateful decision as the sun-baked metal almost immediately seared my legs where my shorty-shorts failed to adequately cover. I hopped along like an inch-worm, trying desperately to reduce the surface space on my exposed skin. At the same time I tried to gain momentum. My legs kept sticking. Grasping my apple in one hand, I made another poor move as I awkwardly leaned over with my free hand to pry my frying skin from the skillet-hot slide.
I lost my balance and fell several feet. It felt like flying until I landed with a sickening thud on the ground below. Although at that point it certainly felt less like soft sand and more like the molten lava that was to be avoided at all costs.
My daycare provider dashed in, scooped me up off the ground and ran me back to the house. Triumphantly I was still holding onto my apple. Tragically it was covered in sand. And my blood.
Sitting on the kitchen table with a wad of red-stained paper towels on my chin, my mom arrived on the scene. Being a nurse it didn't take long for her to examine my second smile and quickly pile me into the car in a rush to the emergency room. The gaping gash in my chin would need stitches. Many stitches.
Thirty-plus years later the scar is faded but still visible, especially when it's not covered with a beard.
Christ Carries Scars
This story came to my mind during Jason's message on March 24. He taught on many of the final things Jesus didn't say during his trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. And he mentioned how the resurrected Jesus showed people his scars, most notably his disciple Thomas:
“Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'”—John 20:27
It was the thought of Jesus with scars that got me thinking: These scars were one of the ways Jesus proved that he had "overcome the world".
But have you ever thought, "Why did the resurrected Jesus have scars?" Why weren't Christ's wounds completely wiped away? Why did He carry visibly reminders of His brutal crucifixion?
Practically speaking it makes sense for the scars to be a way to prove Jesus' resurrection. But He's God. Why would he need to prove anything? If Jesus could hide His identity from Mary Magdalene in the garden (John 20:11-18), couldn't He have just as easily revealed His identity to people like Thomas?
It makes me reconsider scars. We all carry them, both seen and unseen. Some fade over time. Others are just as deep as when they were first healed. Many of us work hard to conceal our scars because we think or have been told that they are ugly. Or scary. But not Jesus.
He not only carried them, Christ made a point to call attention to His scars.
"See where the nails were driven into my hands?" He asks. "Reach out and feel where the spear pierced my side," Jesus invites. Imagine how gruesome and grotesque these imperfections must have been.
And yet Christ wasn't interested in concealing His scars.
"The wounds that cost Christ His life became the scars that declared His victory over death."—Pastor Josh
Can we do the same? As followers of Christ, can we be so bold as to celebrate the scars that have shaped and molded us? Can we actually see these imperfections as perfect proof of who God is? Through Christ's resurrection, can we come to see God as a loving Father who experiences death with us and offers everlasting life to us?
Your Scars Are Not Ugly
What I mean is this: The scar on my chin is not so much a reminder of me falling. It's not a reminder that I should be afraid. Instead the scar is a reminder that when I fell, someone was there to pick me up. It is a reminder that in my time of need someone cared for me. And it is a reminder that someone nursed me back to health.
That someone is the resurrected Christ. He is here to pick me up when I fall. He is here to care for me when I hurt. And He is here to remind me not to be afraid. Because His resurrection proves that He is here. With me. Always.
What I'm suggesting is not easy, but it might be just this simple: My scars are not ugly. They are not grotesque. They are not gruesome. They tell a different story.
My scars remind me everyday that I am experiencing an epic adventure with the living Christ who invites me to stop doubting and believe in the power of His resurrection.
Sometimes it's just good to sit back and listen. And let the truth of God's Word inspire and refresh you. A catalog of our teaching messages can be found on theheart.us. You can also follow us on Podbean, Spotify, and iTunes. Catch up on the messages you may have missed. Listen again to those that inspired you the most.