S C A R

Posted: November 21, 2013 in Christian
Tags: , , ,

Recently, during my quiet time, God has had me studying my scars.  Yes, my scars.

Scars are interesting things.  Every scar marks us.  Every scar tells a story.  Every scar has a cause.  And, every scar reminds us of two things.

The first thing a scar reminds us is, we have been hurt.

Sometimes, these reminders are unpleasant.  They are reminders that we have been injured because of our own disobedience.  I have a scar on the back of my head that is just such a reminder.  One weekend, many years ago, my parents and I were going on a camping trip in Stone Mountain Park.  As we pulled into our campsite and were setting up, I was jumping around and playing as many children of my age would do.  As I started to jump a span between a picnic table and the back of our truck, my Dad told me not to jump.  But, in a moment of disobedience, I jumped anyway.  Lost my footing and fell backwards, hitting my head on the corner of the concrete picnic table.  We spent the rest of that night in an emergency room, getting my head shaved and stitched back together.  Today, that scar remains as a reminder that my disobedience hurts.

Sometimes, these reminders are not so unpleasant.  They are reminders that we were injured as a result of filling a nobler purpose.  On my left arm and hand are a few small burn scars.  This injury occurred in 1994 during a tour of one of the historic Victorian homes in Talladega.  In a freak incident, a fire started in an upstairs bedroom of the house, while nearly 100 people were touring inside the house.  My friend, David Williams, and I worked to remove the burning material and extinguish the flame, keeping the house and guests from greater injury.  In doing this, some of the burning material dripped on my arm and hand, causing some injury and ultimately leaving a few scars.  The injury, while painful at the time, has never been a painful memory because my injury was insignificant compared to the damage and injury to others that would have been had we not acted.  Today, the scars remain as a reminder that doing the right thing is not always painless.

Other times, these reminders are comforting.  They are reminders that we have been injured, intentionally for our own benefit.  On the side of my neck is a small, thin, straight scar.  This injury occurred, intentionally, at the hands of a skillful surgeon.  The purpose of the injury was to remove a diseased portion of my lymph gland that if left untreated would have severely damaged my health.  Today, that scar is a reminder that it is best to remove harmful things, even when they leave a mark.

The second thing that a scar reminds us is, we have been healed.

A scar shows where an injury was, not where an injury is.  A scar is a testimony to the healing that has taken place.  A scar is there to remind us that pain is not permanent.

Just as we have scars in our physical life, we can have scars in our Spiritual Life.  We often have the mistaken idea that the Spirit-filled life is easy and painless.  In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Living a Spirit-filled life is messy, difficult and often painful.

The truth is our Spiritual Lives have scars.  Those Spiritual scars share the same types of causes and provide the same type of reminders that our physical scars do.  Paul gives us some great examples of these in his own life.

Acts 22:3-5 – “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.  I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.”

Paul never forgot that in his zealousness for God, he disobeyed God in persecuting, arresting and killing followers of Christ.  Paul never ignored the Spiritual scar caused by this disobedience.  Instead of letting this scar on his Spiritual life debilitate him, Paul used the healing of forgiveness to encourage him further in the ministry.  Paul recognized that God could use his Spiritual healing from disobedience to spread the love of Christ across the Roman Empire and the world.  The consequences of Paul’s sin remained (Stephen and others were still dead), but the scars of healing gave him a renewed mission.

This story of Paul reminds us that our past is never too bad for God to overcome.  God’s grace and forgiveness qualifies us Spiritually, regardless of the physical consequences of our past sins.  In fact, Paul’s past life, as Saul, gave him access to many people that he otherwise would not have been able to speak to.  Many of these became believers because of the change they witnessed in Paul.  Often the painful experiences of our past give us access to minister to people we could otherwise be unable to reach.  Forgiveness is the Spiritual scar testifying of our healing from our sin.

Secondly, Paul recognized that in many instances his Spiritual scars served a greater purpose.  There is no doubt that Paul’s repeated trials and imprisonment caused both physical and Spiritual scars for him.

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 – “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

Paul recognized though the trials were difficult, they served a greater purpose.  Paul used these times of physical and Spiritual healing to write and encourage the many churches.  Since his writings compose two-thirds of what we know as the New Testament, his “injury” was for our greater good as well.

Paul’s experience teaches us that ministry is not always painless.  Often we must put ourselves in a position to be hurt, in order to help another in Spiritual need.

Finally, Paul recognized that some of his Spiritual scars were surgical in nature.

Philippians 3:4-9 – “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;  concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.   Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;”

Paul tells us these things, in themselves, may not be wrong.  But, placing his faith in these was harmful to his Spiritual wellbeing.  Paul is basically saying:  God has surgically removed these things from me, because they would be detrimental to my Spiritual health.  The scar that remains is a reminder for my good and God’s glory.

Just as in our physical body, our Spiritual scars are reminders that we have been healed.  The scar is there for a testimony of our healing.  It is there for a testimony of God’s grace.  It is there to remind us of God’s greater purpose.  It is there to strengthen us in our Spiritual walk.  It is there to be used for God’s glory.

Why did I go through this long writing?  Because, over the past few days God has caused me to take a different look at my scars.  That is the lesson I want to share.

Now, I see a scar I am reminded… Sanctification’s corrections advance righteousness.

S – Sanctification’s

C—Corrections

A – Advance

R – Righteousness

Every scar in our Spiritual life has a purpose.  Don’t hide the scars.  Embrace them.  Use them for the purpose God intended for His glory.

Living a Spirit-filled life means growing in His likeness.  It means living according to His purpose.  It means following in His service.  It can be messy.  It can be difficult.  And, yes, it can be painful.  All in all, it is for my good and His glory.

How have your scars changed your life?

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