Scar + God = Badge of Honour


J_Bev_750I have four kids, and every one of them had five stitches at least once in their heads before they turned 6 … In fact, when my sons wore shaved heads, I would colour the scars with eyebrow pencil when they went for job interviews because the scars made them look like bad boys. (‘Nuff said.)

I have a few scars too. The one under my chin is from climbing to look over a shop counter to see what was happening on the other side; that scar is my badge of vision and determination. The scar on my wrist represents a desperate teenager who thought all hope was lost. The fact that there’s a scar at all shows that Hope is not killed so easily. My scarred legs, from cancer operations, represent salvation and healing because if it were not for them, I would not have realised I needed a Saviour.

We’re all scarred, and when we look into the face of Jesus we see our wounds up close and personal. Just as standing naked in front of the mirror shows the caesarean, the appendix, the mastectomy, the brutal beating or the ugly accident—getting closer to God shows our heart wounds clearly. No matter how long ago, the scars are undeniable.

Paul said his sufferings allowed him to identify with the death of Jesus, so Jesus’  life could be seen in Paul. He realised that what he’d gone through wasn’t for nothing. God, the ultimate Recycler, can take death and make it into LIFE.

So then death is produced in us but life is at work in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:12

How can people see Jesus in me? 2 Corinthians answers that.

Some of us have perfect bodies, but our hearts are scarred in ways too painful to speak of. Suffering brought to God creates a mysterious alchemy that produces life. When life breaks forth out of suffering, not only am I transformed, but the people around me are affected too.

Suffering produces wounds, but when God heals and restores, He brings honour to our wounds and those scars we tried to hide produce life in the people around us.

Our scars contribute to the shape of who we are, but they don’t have to dictate who we become.

Paul said all things work together for good for people who love the Lord and are called to His purposes. That doesn’t mean what happened was good, but that God can use even the most terrible things if we will let Him treat the wounds and heal them. I don’t know what Paul’s life was like before we come across him, but I’m guessing he had a really ugly upbringing. Why? Because he was such a mean man, legalist, rigid, unyielding, aiding and abetting the deaths of anyone who dared disagree with his beliefs.

When Paul found Jesus, everything changed—his actions, his attitudes, his perspective of God and himself. That changed how he thought about the people around him. He told anyone who would listen about the amazing treasure wrapped in the old banged-up jars of clay that we are, so that our excellence can flow from God, instead of from our brokenness.

Paul knew what he was talking about. He celebrated his scars as victories—badges of honour because of what Jesus had done for him.

I always love the story of Israel crossing the Jordan—they had a story to tell and memories to celebrate or mourn. They piled up twelve stones from the riverbed onto the bank, but not many people realise that they also took twelve stones from the riverbank and put them in the riverbed (Joshua 4:9), so that when the Jordan began to flow again, it flowed right over the great boulders that had once been clearly visible. The rocks weren’t gone, but they lay so deep in the water no one could see them. When God heals our wounds, the reasons for our pain and loss still exist but people aren’t aware of them because we no longer live out of rejection, and bitterness no longer dictates the course of our lives.

There were instructions about the stones that were visible. (Joshua 4:6) When people asked the purpose of the stones, the answer wasn’t just to recount the story, but tell what it meant personally. “What do these memories mean to you?”

Only people who have been restored can talk with honour about restoration. This is what my scars are about. They show that whatever happened to me, wherever I’ve been damaged and wounded, whatever wrong has been done to me, whatever hurt I’ve suffered, whatever accident of birth or time of tragedy I have been through, there’s a God who can bring me up and out, turning ugly gaping wounds into scars that serve as badges of honour and trophies of the grace of God at work in me.

These stones, these great boulders, each one capable of destroying my life, have been lifted off me, and all I have left are these scars. They show where I’ve been, and even what has happened to me, but they don’t show who I am.

I belong to the One who has given honour to my wounds, transforming them so the Life Giver can use them. They’re not for nothing. It wasn’t all in vain.

Beauty for ashes
Joyous oil instead of mourning
A beautiful cloak of praise to destroy depression
A tree of righteousness, hand planted by my Lord for His glory.


Image credit: cmuffins