I've been thinking a lot lately about scars.
Here's what I know. We all have scars.
Some of them are physical.
I have a scar on one of my fingers where I was reaching for a tennis ball underneath a chain link fence and part of the fence dug into one of my fingers. It bled. I got some stitches. It left a scar.
I have a scar underneath my chin. I was diving for a basketball during practice in college and my chin hit the floor first. It bled I got some stitches. It left a scar.
Scars are always are reminder of some past event. Something that happened that many times was traumatic and even life changing.
Yet, I would suggest to you that even more difficult to handle are the scars that we bear on the inside. Emotional scars. Scars from hurt. Scars from relational wounds.
These are scars that we all bear.
No one can go through life without being hurt. No one.
Everyone has been hurt, everyone has bled emotionally and relationally, and everyone has a scar.
Some people allow their hurts from the past to stay in their minds forever. Instead of letting the wound gradually heal, leaving a slight scar, resentment keep picking the scab and putting the DVD back in to watch it again. We keep a record of the wrong, and we keep underscoring it in the ledger of our minds.
And the wound never heals.
You see, the positive side of scars is that they show that while there was a wound, that wound has healed. They might not look like much, they might even be ugly, but scars dictate that what was once an open wound, is now in the past.
Here's what I know: we must define our scars and not let our scars define us.
Our scars can help others recognize us for who we are - that we have gone through life challenges and emerged victorious.
Even Jesus has scars.
In "The Odyssey", there is a scene that takes place near the end of the story. Odysseus returns home after many years of wandering. He is in disguise as an old man. At first nobody recognizes him, not even his wife and child. One night before bed, Odysseus' aged nurse bathes him.
At first, she thinks he is just a stranger; but while bathing him, she recognizes a scar on his leg. She remembers the scar from his infancy. She did not recognize him until she saw his scar.
Thomas had a similar experience. When he saw the scars, he new the resurrected One was the crucified One. He knew it was Jesus.
Our scars help us identify with others. They show that we are real.
But here's what I also know. Jesus loves us - and our scars.
I am thankful that God never turns his back on us - especially when he sees our scars.
Pastor Lee Strobel tells this story:
"Shortly after the Korean War, a Korean woman had an affair with an American soldier, and she got pregnant. He went back to the United States, and she never saw him again. She gave birth to a little girl, and this little girl looked different than the other Korean children. She had light-colored, curly hair. In that culture, children of mixed race were ostracized by the community.
In fact, many women would kill their children because they didn't want them to face such rejection.
But this woman didn't do that. She tried to raise her little girl as best she could. For seven years she tried to do that, until the rejection was too much. She did something that probably nobody in this room could imagine ever doing. She abandoned her little girl to the streets.
This little girl was ruthlessly taunted by people. They called her the ugliest word in the Korean language, tooki, alien devil. It didn't take long for this little girl to draw conclusions about herself based on the way people treated her.
For two years she lived in the streets, until finally she made her way to an orphanage. One day, word came that a couple from America was going to adopt a little boy. All the children in the orphanage got excited, because at least one little boy was going to have hope. He was going to have a family. So this little girl spent the day cleaning up the little boys—giving them baths and combing their hair—and wondering which one would be adopted by the American couple.
The next day the couple came, and this is what the girl recalled: "It was like Goliath had come back to life. I saw the man with his huge hands lift up each and every baby. I knew he loved every one of them as if they were his own. I saw tears running down his face, and I knew if they could, they would have taken the whole lot home with them.
"He saw me out of the corner of his eye. Now let me tell you. I was nine years old, but I didn't even weigh 30 pounds. I was a scrawny thing. I had worms in my body. I had lice in my hair. I had boils all over me. I was full of scars. I was not a pretty sight. But the man came over to me, and he began rattling away something in English, and I looked up at him. Then he took this huge hand and laid it on my face. What was he saying? He was saying, 'I want this child. This is the child for me.'"
Jesus says to you today, in the midst of your scars, "I want you. You are for me."