You know what’s different about this summer? I have a new scar that is nearly impossible to camouflage. I’ve got other big ones, but they’re a little easier to conceal. This one, however, is on the top of my arm. I’m already starting to get questions about it because it’s that noticeable. The thing is, I’d much rather have that scar than the reason I got the scar. I actually have three scars like this. All three have resulted from pre-cancerous moles. The biggest reason I want to cover my scars up is not because they’re ugly, but so nothing from the environment triggers the bad spots into coming back to their respectable locations. To me, my scars are reminders of healing.
I remember the day I got the phone call after they ran the biopsy for the mole my doctor removed. We were at my family home in North Carolina for Christmas this past December. My ENTIRE family had come down with the flu Christmas Eve. The only reason I had kept my dermatologist appointment for the day after Christmas was because we had it on the calendar for over six months and there were very few doctors in that line of work where we live. Plus, our dermatologist in North Carolina is amazingly skilled at what he does. Years ago, he caught a melanoma on my dad’s foot that literally saved his life from that disease. So yeah, our family is super cautious about getting checked. The nurse called me and told me that the doctor wanted me to come in before I left to go back to Virginia because it was urgent that they scrape out the surrounding tissue so that it couldn’t grow any further. My heart sank. Anytime the “C” word comes up in our family, we all tend to think the worse because that’s how my dad died: osteo sarcoma- cancer of the bone. So, already miserable from the flu, I strapped on my mask and my husband chauffeured me over that afternoon to have minor surgery. After they sewed me up, my arm looked like something from Frankenstein. It hurt really badly too. They prescribed some medicine for the pain, but once we picked it up along with my flu medicine, I was told that I could not take both at the same time. Thus, I had to pick which ailment I needed more meds for. I chose the one for the arm because it completely knocked me out. For a couple months, my arm hurt to touch and especially to sleep on. Finally, though, I was able to un-bandage it and see the scar underneath.
Recently, I read a quote on Pinterest that said, “Scars are tattoos with better stories.” I couldn’t agree more. I remember pointing to my dad’s tattoo on his arm when I was a little girl saying, “Daddy, what’s this?” My sister, equally curious, referred to it as, “Daddy’s Too-Tat.” He would always explain that he got it before he knew Jesus as a 14 year-old boy who was frequently up to trouble. He remained grateful that for some reason he had chosen to get a cross and not some regretful picture or group of words. He had a scar underneath his throat that was leftover from an emergency tracheotomy he had performed on him when he had the croup as a child. He also had a scar on his shoulder, where he had to have steel pins put in to secure his arm back into place after wrecking his car as a 16 year old while under the influence of alcohol. Those scars were markers of how God had spared his life and allowed him the opportunity to find and receive the gift of Eternal Life years later. Those scars had a way better story than his tattoo did.
My physical scars remind me of how God has preserved my life through various things: chicken pox, falling down the stairs and busting my chin, trying to force ice cubes through a glass only to have it shatter and slice my wrist, opening a package with a box cutter on my lap only to have the blade slip and slice my leg, and of course- the removal of 3 pre-cancerous moles starting from first grade on. But you know what? I have scars on my heart that I think of far more often than the scars on my flesh.
I know you do too. Everybody has them. Some are fresh and festering, some are old wounds that have healed but left reminders of why they’re there. Feeling rejected in middle school, losing my dad to cancer, sharing the burden with my husband of dealing with an unexpected layoff…those are just a few of the wounds that God has bound with his healing touch. There are various other wounds God is stitching up and more that will come. No one gets out of this world unwounded.
In the Old Testament, believers would set up an Ebenezer-a marker of stones- to call remembrance upon the faithfulness of their Heavenly Father. When I gaze upon my scars- whether physical or of the heart- I am called to remembrance of the faithfulness of my great God as well.
For those who don’t recognize the faithfulness of their Maker, eyes are cast upon physical, spiritual, and emotional markers of pain with disdain and confusion. Why wouldn’t this happen in the case of an unbeliever? It makes complete sense.
But when a person has chosen to enter a personal relationship with the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, their scars are redeemed. They are given purpose and meaning. The eyes of the afflicted are presented with a filter to see their wounds through. They are given an opportunity to finish the ellipses at the tail of each wound with a beautiful conclusion for that particular chapter which The Author of Life has drafted to be a part of His story.
The most beautiful paradox in history is that another’s scars healed our own scars. It sounds bizarre. But, if you want to know how, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3), you must first know that, “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed,” (1 Peter 2:24).
Whatever scars are on your heart or flesh, I hope you recognize the amazing story of redemption that has been offered to bind up those wounds. I hope that deliverance has healed your lacerations and bruises like a soothing ointment. I hope that when people are introduced to your scars, you have a story full of grace, mercy, and faithfulness from the Great Physician to share. I hope that when reflect upon your scars…your Ebenezers…that your heart sings these sentiments,
“Here I raise my Ebenezer;
hither to thy help I come;
and I hope by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger,
interposed His precious blood.”
Sometimes it requires a sacrifice of praise when memories of pain flow from the scars that are left. But even in the midst of the pain, all laud is due to the redeemer and binder of our wounds. When you’ve been rescued from the scrapes, bruises, infections, viruses, and cancers of this life, you just can’t help but raise the scars left behind as a symbol of deliverance with thanks and praise to the one who rescued you.