In my sophomore year of high school, my counselor was plotting out my course for college and career. He asked what I wanted to do with my life, and I told him that all I wanted to do was be a writer. Although I traveled a circuitous route in life to get here, that goal never changed. When I was twenty-three I remember telling a friend, another aspiring writer, that I was finding I needed more life experience before I could really begin to write. Now that I’m in my mid-sixties, I have that experience, although it came with a price tag I never expected. It came with deep wounds, which have left permanent scars. Some of the scars can be seen on my body, but the most significant, influential ones are invisible to the naked eye.
I have learned that after a certain number of years in this life, every one of us is a mass of scars.
When armies fight battles, the wounded are divided between those who need to be carried out on stretchers, and those who are called “walking wounded.” The latter are those who are bleeding and hurting, but can still function well enough to walk on their own and get to a place where they can be evacuated. Most of the people I hang out with are “life’s walking wounded.” We have been through so much that we can never again be the innocent, unscarred people we started out to be.
When we, as a species, rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, evil came into what had been a perfect world, and pain became a difficult part of our education. Everyone gets hurt. It’s like a military boot camp, where we are pushed beyond our limits, but God uses these hurts as training—guiding us to what we will eventually become, in our assigned duties.
"Anyone God uses significantly is always deeply wounded... On the last day, Jesus will look us over not for medals, diplomas, or honors, but for scars." --Brennan Manning
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” --A.W. Tozer
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." --Elizabeth Kubler Ross
These scar-producing wounds are also a fundamental part of His plan to heal us in the long term. The beginning of healing is in giving up our illusion of control and turning to Him, the Source of Life, wherein is found all healing. We all have the idea that we don’t need God. It often takes pain to make us surrender to Him. Once we allow God to work His healing into our hearts, the scars become reminders of lessons learned and foundations for reaching out to others who are hurting.
“God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to none but the dead … He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those in disgrace.” --Martin Luther
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV)
Scars are to be treasured as milestones, not suppressed in our memories as objects of shame. They represent significant times in our lives when we look back and see that God can and does redeem, restore and renew the broken. God never wastes a hurt.
© 2018 Darvis McCoy
Photo: Remains of the Roman aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima, Israel. Taken in 2006 by Donna McCoy
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.