I am covered with scars. For years I self-consciously found it necessary to hide them, especially the larger ones. That all changed some years ago when I received a call concerning young teenager who had an accident which required painful treatment. His parents and physicians had requested that I visit him before his procedure. In High School I had suffered a similar injury and undergone much the same treatment. As soon as I introduced myself, he reached up his hand and asked…”Can I touch them?” I knelt by his bed and guided his hand toward the many scars that remain as proof of my ordeal. After touching them, he said…”I needed to see that I can get better.”
I’ve also noticed that my youngest son periodically needs to see and touch my scars. He has a particularly large one on his knee about which he is always concerned. When he’s particularly worried that his is not healing right, he’ll reach up and touch mine asking, “How long ago did you say this was?” Somehow seeing how a scar heals reassures him.
A scar is the visible evidence that something has happened. But it is not just evidence of a wound; it is also evidence of a wound that has healed. In the Gospel of John (20:20), after his death and burial, Jesus showed his scars to the disciples so that they would recognize him. It was only when they saw the scars on his hands and feet that they knew he was back.
Life has a way of leaving its mark upon us. In the same way that Jesus used his scars as proof that he was alive and well…God often uses someone else who has been wounded to bring love, understanding, and healing to others. No one goes through life unscathed, yet we still try to hide our scars. God doesn’t use the perfection of actions to change the world. It’s the scars that remain from our healed faults and failures that God uses to give hope to the hopeless. We only find true spiritual wholeness when we embrace our brokenness for others. We would do well to remember that “wholeness comes more from pain and failure than joy and success (Unknown).”
A few years ago my then seven-year-old son and I were walking down the tooth paste and shampoo isle of the grocery store. He always loved to shop and comment about all the products. At some point he noticed the boxes containing men’s hair color with each box showing a man with a different shade of hair. He reached out and grabbed the box for blondes, and said “You need this Daddy…so that you can have the same color hair as me.” Laughing, I explained that my hair was once blonde like his, and that his was getting darker and one day would be brown like mine. He put the box back with somewhat of a disappointed look and said…”Yea, but when mines brown yours will be white!”
It’s not uncommon to desire being like someone else, or even to have what others have. Occasionally, we may even feel as if those changes would bring a better quality to our lives, maybe more happiness and contentment. Paul writes, “And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life (1 Corinthians 7:17).” Paul’s words remind us that that always obsessively looking for something more or something better can devalue this moment.
It is so easy to become distracted by those things that we don’t have, those places we can’t be and those things that we can’t do. Living life so distracted causes us to take for granted and miss the blessings and gifts of the moment. Yesterday can only be remembered, tomorrow can only be planned…and life can only be lived today with what we have. Its only when we focus on living today as best we can, being as faithful as we can, that we become aware of the real blessings that God has placed in our lives. It does not matter what change you make in your life, you’ll never find happiness where you’re headed unless you take the ingredients along with you.
I loved baseball when I was a boy. I played every year. When I was ten years old, I had what was probably my best season. I finished the regular season with no errors and had a high batting average. It was the first year that I made the All Star team. During the All Star season accidents began to happen to me. Pitchers kept hitting me, balls would take unusual bounces and leave me bruised and bloody.
Slowly a fear began to creep into me. I began to find excuses to miss practices and games. When I did play, I found myself overwhelmed with anxiety and fear about what may happen. All they joy was gone. One day my mother pulled me aside and simply said, “Everyone is afraid sometimes. But you can’t focus on your fear… or you’ll never enjoy baseball again. Focus on what you enjoy, not what you fear.”
Fears surround us. Often they are the personal fears that stem from the problems that we each face, the challenges, the failures that we worry about. For some of us, they are financial fears that we carry around. We worry about our job performance because that affects our financial future, and many of us have struggled with losing jobs and being in that in-between land where we don’t have a livelihood. There are health issues that we fear. We fear cancer. We fear heart attacks and strokes and the list can go on. All of these are very real dangers.
In Isaiah 43:1, we read “But now, this is what the LORD says… ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” This passage reminds us that we belong to God, and that God will see us through any trial. When we focus on our fears, we tend to forget our blessings. Eventually the fear and worry began to have a negative impact on how we enjoy those very blessings. There are some things in life that may be out of our control, but there are also things that we can do. It is only when we focus more on the blessing from God that life is truly a joy. You will never find happiness where you are going unless you take the ingredients along with you.