Life…emptying the ocean into a thimble…

Emptying the ocean into a thimble
Emptying the ocean into a thimble

I have this visual in my head.
It’s the image of me and the image of God…and they are so vastly different.
In this image, I am so very, very small.
I am barely a speck within this massive cosmic universe.

I am a thimble.
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I cannot hold much.
What I can hold is quite limited.
What I can’t hold is very, very expansive.

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It reminds me of a time when I stood on top of a large building in the city and looked down.  Everyone was going about their day, unknowingly being watched from above.  They looked so small from my vantage point.  The cars and vehicles we plodding along and they almost looked like ants in a line.  It never seemed to stop or slow down…it just…kept moving.   The distant sounds of horns blaring and tires screeching could be heard, and it seemed suddenly quite silly.

Sometimes I wonder if this is how we look to God. thimble1
I wonder if He peers down at us…then again, where did we ever get this notion that He is looking down from somewhere?  Could it be that He is right next to us…could it be that he is holding our thimbles in his hands? …(okay, now I’m silently humming “he’s got my thimble in his hands…”)

But in reality I wonder sometimes if we are so consumed in our lives with trying to cram every single thing into our tiny vessels.

We try to cram in success.
We try to cram in popularity.
We try to cram in things and money and cars and homes and happiness and love and acceptance and families and jobs and contentment and places and desires and dreams and politics and rights and wrongs and judgement and….you get it don’t you?  That’s one long run-on sentence and yet, in a way, that’s what we’re doing to our lives.

booksSometimes we do too much.
We pile our “stuff” too high.
We demand far more of ourselves than God does of us…

We think that doing “things” in some sort of right order is what honors God, and then pretty soon those things sometimes replace or unknowingly take the place of God because it all has to be in the right order and done in the right way and polished to a tee…and so we work really, really hard at something that should be about God but it becomes all about us…

And so….Photo Nov 12, 11 19 44 AM

I keep coming back to this image.

How many times am I attempting to pour the whole ocean into my thimble?

How many times am I attempting to do this insane, impossible thing?

How many times do I come away from this “work” feeling defeated and, in no way have I gone even a few inches from where I started?

News flash…
maybe we weren’t created to carry the entire ocean around in our thimbles.
Maybe that’s not how this whole thing works.

It’s like going to the beach.beach

My family and I went this past summer.
We live in the cold north and so going to the beach means traveling a long distance.
So we drove, and drove and drove…finally we got there only to have like three days to enjoy the beach…and so we soaked up the sun and the sounds and the sand for as much time as we could.  We did all of the dumb touristy things.  We collected shells and bought overpriced souvenirs and we attempted to take the beach back home with us by the bucket full and because it was also caked in the carpets of our van.

Question:
Do we attempt to fill our thimbles with the entire ocean because we feel it will suddenly disappear?  Is this how we think about God?
I mean, if we don’t make this mad dash to overflow our thimbles with His infinite ocean do we fail at this holy life?  Is that what being a Christian is all…about?

antsAre we like ants in a line as we go to church and  carry our bibles and dress the part and look good “dressing the part”….

In a very real way have we lost the true meaning of what a “Christ-follower” is all about in this insane rat race of rituals and practices?

Are we attempting to empty the entire ocean into our thimbles when God doesn’t work that way? …and as we do these things are we becoming more and more frustrated, disillusioned and lost?

Matthew 10:10 says…matt 1010
Can we just simply come to Him and experience life without trying to swallow it whole while pouring the entire ocean into these thimbles?  Can we experience this abundant living by being content with what and who we are and what He is giving to us?

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Jesus said that he had living water and if we drank from that water we would never be thirsty again…is that enough for us?  Can we just sit by that well and realize that the ocean isn’t going anywhere?
Perhaps it’s time to stop the rat race.
Perhaps it’s time to stop attempting to fill our thimbles with the entirety of the ocean as we are never satisfied.

thimbleHow’s your thimble?

Something more to ponder today.

Perspectives Day 5.1 “Poetry” – Featuring Commissioner Harry Read “Heart-Talk”

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Heart-Talk

If I but give myself to thee, O Lord,
Roll over on to thee my life and way,
Acknowledge heavenly truth within thy word,
Believe thy love is constant every day

Then will I know the peace that trusting brings,
The power that issues freely from thy hand,
The joy which rises from eternal springs,
The quality of life which thou hast planned.

O grant me, Lord, the wisdom to believe
That life is only life when lived in thee;
Grant me the faith to ask and then receive
The promised life which Christ would live in me.

Shine thou through me thy love and righteousness –
A glow of hope in this world’s hopelessness.

Psalm 37: 5.6
‘Trust in him…he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.’

By Harry Read.
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Perspectives Day 1 – Featuring Shanais Strissel (Captain) “On the Other Side of the Veil”

“On the Other Side of the Veil”

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Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid that when you woke up it took you a few moments to realize that it actually was a dream and not reality? It takes a moment for the mist to clear, the world to turn right side up and reality to realign itself once more.

I had a dream like that last night, vivid, stingingly emotional, deep and filled with rich, longing emotions.

I had a dream in which my mother showed up, she wasn’t what the dream was about or even a large portion of it, she just showed up for a moment…

I was sitting in a small room, with a small stage and when I glanced up I saw my mother walk out on the stage and begin to speak (which if you knew my mother she would NEVER intentionally get up in front of anyone)

            It wasn’t what she said, it was how she looked that struck me like an arrow through the heart…she was wearing blue jeans, an old t-shirt, her hair kind of wild and a huge cup of coffee in clutched her hands, with a nervous smirk on her face.

             The feelings that overtook me were so intense in my dream that I couldn’t even bare to look upon her face, in my dream I got up and walked out to the hall and cried, I cried a deep longing, emotion filled, slightly angry filled moaning cry.

            Why…because even in my dreams I know that my mother is gone and I can only glimpse her through the veil of death…it was her essence in my dream that connected my heart directly to hers because this WAS who my mother was, her look, her mannerism, her spirit...

            My dream was my subconscious creating an illusionary moment of a reality that I desire- a desire that I cannot fulfill….yet.

 

For now I wait patiently on this side of the veil.

 

Death is not a fixed point and heaven isn’t some misty, foggy place “out” there in the sky somewhere…it is just across the veil and closer than we think, or at least closer than I used to think.

            When death visits close to home and comes to take someone we love, whether violently or silently, it never comes gently- it cannot- it is not its nature, because it almost always leaves behind a gaping hole of loss or uneasy questions.

            But the good news for us is that even though we must, for now, stand on one side of the veil or the other it will not always be so.  Death may separate one life from another for now but someday that veil will be torn and we will not mingle with each other in death but in a real and tangible incorruptible life…

            When Jesus hung on that cross he didn’t just save us from our sin, he saved all humanity from desolate separation…We could not face God in a corruptible state but when Jesus tore the temple veil on his death, WE can now walk through that VEIL of death and arrive before God…and just as the temple veil was torn, so will this veil that separates the corruptible flesh, what we are now, to what we will someday become.

Someday, I will see my mother, my grandmother and those who are now on the other side of the veil and someday I will see that veil fall…

For those we celebrate on this day of honor and sacrifice, for the loss of loved ones, let the pain and sorrow of that loss gently flow into healing and hope…

            Healing because we know life does not end at death

And hope because we, for now, may get glimpses through the veil of death from time to time but someday it will be gone and we will be free to live and love the way we were meant to…without the fear of separation.

So on this day, let us not celebrate loss, but let us celebrate our future hope…

Because someday I will be able to go across the room and embrace my mother because nothing will separate us anymore, and you will be able to do the same…

 

Shanais Strissel’s Blog Site: http://shanaisstrissel.wordpress.com/

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My Rescue (a poem or sorts)

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I cried out “my foot is slipping”
as I clung horrified to the rock.
Deep below my fall would kill
jagged and deadly…deep below.

In panic and pain strength, it waned
I knew I could not go on.
And just when it seemed I would fall
and my body, broken would fail
His hand reached me at last.

Within His grasp, my breath I gasped
My life had faced death’s cold stare
Yet there He stood, Jesus my Lord
and I knew that I was saved!

From death’s fearful grave
to life – rays of light warm my soul.
For He walks beside me all this way
and I know I have been gloriously saved!  

3 Pitfalls of Holy Living

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I grew up within the context of a “Holiness Tradition”.  If you have grown up in this too, perhaps you will understand the importance of sanctification.  This is the second blessing – the Holy Spirit’s anointing and subsequent cleansing of the soul.  Holiness is the willful acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s prodding to become who we were intended to be.  It is the act of complete surrender which leads us on the path of reflecting Christ in every fiber of our being.  It is the beginning point of surrendering our old sinful self completely as we long to become complete in the image of Christ – which is our “new creation” image.  

Yet, all too often, when the topic of holiness is discussed there are pitfalls that creep in and threaten to undo or destroy this transformation of the soul.  These pitfalls come in the form of erroneous thoughts or beliefs which can make ones attempt of complete surrender to the Holy Spirit impossible or at the very least extremely difficult.  

I would like to address three major pitfalls of holy living which always seem to cripple and strangle this vital growth process.  I use the term “process” for lack of a better word, though I mean this walk of holiness and complete surrender.  I also find myself using the words “holiness” and “complete surrender” either together or interchangeably only because “complete surrender” is what is required of us when we allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us through and through.   

These pitfalls seem to be the three most influential concepts hanging around today that can cause the most damage and deter a person from accepting and receiving this second blessing:

Pitfall #1 – Holiness is about Perfection

 

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I cannot count how many times the term “perfection” comes up when discussing “Holiness” with Sunday School classes and Bible study groups.   Holiness and “human perfection” are not synonymous.   When we talk about becoming Holy, we do not all of a sudden become devoid of our imperfections while suddenly becoming perfect in every way physical shape or physical form.  Human perfection is not our goal when we talk about becoming holy.  The pursuit of human perfection is impossible improbable.  We need to recognize that this pitfall of associating human perfection with holiness will only cause us to become frustrated and long for an easier route in the spiritual life.  

Although we recognize that human perfection is not our goal we should also, in the same breath, acknowledge that it does not let us off the hook within the realms of our moral living.  The old scapegoat of “I’m only human” cannot be our excuse when we make mistakes and stumble upon this path of righteousness.  Yes, we will not be humanly perfect, but the Holy Spirit can sanctify us through and through while providing us aid and strength to avoid the trappings of the old life.  

Pitfall #2 – Holiness is all about working harder

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Truth be told this pitfall leads to a lot of burnout among Christ-followers.  Some feel as if they must do more for the “glory of God” and when they consider what “do” is, it entails longer hours of sweat and toil.  Don’t misunderstand me here, the Holy life does include many sacrifices and effort, but simply working harder is not the sole pathway to holiness.  

We can dress up in our uniforms and act the part and still not be any closer to being sanctified through and through.  
We miss the point.  Sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s work within those who are earnestly willing to surrender everything from within and without.  No effort unto our own will ever suffice.  No measure of extraneous “works” will earn us holiness.  We must begin with a humble, seeking heart and a willingness to be taught by the Master.  When we are on our knees before Him, longing to be made whole through the Holy Spirit, then and only then may we experience the all consuming power of sanctification.  

The working harder doesn’t come first…it comes second.  This isn’t to say that we maintain our holiness through working harder, but rather it is a response of love and devotion to the One who cleanses us through and through.  All physical appearances for the benefit of others within the realms of our “works” may very well still fall within the old life.  Working harder in the hopes of attaining holiness will only cause frustration, burnout and disillusionment.  Instead worthy pursuits to consider would be – humility, complete surrender, the discipline of prayer & supplication.

Pitfall #3 – Holiness is only available to smarter more capable saints.

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Believe it or not many come to the conclusion that holiness is only reserved for the wisest and the smartest of the saints.  Thankfully (in my case and perhaps yours) this is simply not true.  Jesus even told His disciples when they were attempting to shoo off children who were climbing all over Jesus this:  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)  I recognize the context here but to me this also indicates the child-like faith we need in order to receive the Holy Spirit. 

 

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Here’s a comforting thought: We don’t need to be a scholar to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and that of Sanctification.  We do not need to have degrees on our walls or wear a specific color of trim on our shoulders to pursue Christ-likeness.  A lot of people have the head-knowledge but when it comes to the heart-knowledge the mettle of sincere intentions and devotion are formally revealed.  This is first a personal matter.  A private conversation with God Himself.  It is a one on one appearance with God in the holy of holies.  He shows up.  He will never forsake us, and His desire for us all is to avoid these pitfalls as we pursue His holiness in our lives.  Yes, Holiness is possible and attainable to all who are willing to surrender fully to Him.  

-Just another some to ponder today.

 

 

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My Tribute to Moms

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We shouldn’t need a “special” day to thank Mom.  Every day should be a “special” day.  Moms have a way of knowing just when to call or tell you something that no one else has the guts to say to you.  Moms have been with us through the good, the bad, and the ugly (sometimes there has been a lot of “ugly”).  

Moms Get it

It is more than just Mother’s “intuition”, Moms seem to have a supernatural/extra-sensory connection with their children.  I’m not some sort of crackpot here, it’s just that I’ve seen it in person and I know there is more to a Mother-child connection than meets the eye.  Moms know what to say and sometimes more importantly what not to say but just to provide a hug or an expression of compassion, love and support.  

Don’t Mess with Mama

As a kid I remember saying something I shouldn’t have.  My mouth ran briskly while my brain was too slow to catch it.  What happened next is still vivid in my mind.  I nearly lost my nose, because the words I had said were directed at my mother.  They were bad words.  Words I should never have said.  Hurtful, razor sharp daggers of lingo…and I was wrong.  My mother slapped me on my face and I thought my nose was going to fly off.  I deserved it – lesson learned. 

But watch out world…

If you ever mess with Mama’s kids…you’re going to get a smack down like no other.  Some say World War 3 will be caused by Superpowers and nuclear war.  I beg to differ.  If you mess with Mama’s kids, you might as well hang a sign around your neck that reads “I caused World War 3.”  Image

 

 

Not only does Mom know what to say to help her kids and how to correct her kids, but she will defend her kids at all cost.  You deserve to be warned should you pick a fight with her children…you might just have taken your life in your own hands.  

To My Mom –

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My Mom and Dad

I love you and I am so proud of you!  You have helped me through a lot of things.  You have always been there (I know I’m lucky, some never had it as good as we did growing up).  You sacrificed a lot for us kids.  There were times that I know you and Dad went without things just to make sure Sherry and I didn’t.  I can never repay that kind of love except to replicate that example in how I love my children and in how I love you.  

As we all grow older I am learning how to cherish and treasure you as my Mother.  I am so thankful to God for providing you to my life. The decisions I have made in this life were because I had the instruction of two godly people growing up – Mom and Dad.  This is worth so much more than earthly treasures and riches.  This, as I am slowly beginning to realize more and more, is what life is all about.  

To my Wife – Shanais Strissel

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My Mom and Shanais on our Wedding Day (September 12th, 1998)

I am the luckiest man alive!  I married my best friend and life long companion.  She is an amazing Mom, and she personifies Christ to our children!  I consider myself blessed because She said “Yes” almost 16 years ago when I proposed.  Since then, through the good, the bad and the ugly, She has been a rock and a light to me and these four crazy blessings we call kids.   Wow…I still can’t find the words to express how much I love her and what she means to me.  That being said, I plan on spending the rest of my life trying to collect those verbs, adjectives and everything in between to try and bring to light how important and loved she is to me.  

For You, the Reader – 

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Hug your Moms.  Cherish who they are.  Life, this temporal thing, is short.  Take time to appreciate all that your mother has taught you.  Make sure you take the time to tell her how much she has done to shape you as a person.  

Don’t lose any opportunity to appreciate your Mom.  She deserves your respect and love…so show it.

-Just something more to ponder on this Mother’s day weekend.

 

“Perspectives” Day 5 – Featuring Timothy McPherson “Vulnerable”

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Vulnerable

I’m an introvert. I once saw this Internet meme and thought it was hilarious and aptly described me:

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I do not like exposing myself to too much scrutiny, examination, and prominence. It’s a protective measure. I don’t like getting hurt emotionally.

Those who know me and have seen me voice my opinions on Social Media would beg to differ. I tend to be quite “vocal” in my online presence; more so than I would have ever had the courage to do so in public. I have no scientific data to support my claim, but sometimes I feel the Internet, and especially Social Media, makes extroverts of introverts. It’s almost like a buffer zone for me. I am able to think, process, and then articulate my thoughts and feelings regarding various topics.

If you know me outside of Social Media, you might tend to view me as very reserved. This sometimes has gotten interpreted as being stuck up. While I was at our College for Officer Training (seminary) my now-wife was advised not to get to know me because I was too intellectual and too theological for her. I am very grateful that she did not heed that advice!

That being said, I love to preach. I love to teach. Standing up before a crowd or being part of a discussion group brings out what little extroversion I possess. However, since I am an introvert, releasing all of that mental muscle to expose myself before a group of people always leaves me exhausted afterwards. I retreat, find a book, or go to sleep.

 

The Problem

Enter the plight of the introverted clergy. We can get very lonely.

Perhaps a common misconception is that introverts don’t want friends. This is not true in the least. For myself:  I do want friends. Sometimes it’s a desperate longing. Then the inner battle of introversion begins:  being vulnerable versus not being lonely. It can be a bitter struggle. Often times, I feel surrounded by a group of strangers who are watching my every move and hoping for a misstep.

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In my case, my self-defense became too bitter and overran my life. I had no one (other than my wife) with whom I could express my fears, frustrations, joys, sorrows, accomplishments (or the lack thereof). I hated it. However, I was not willing to open myself up to the possibility that friendship is possible with others. My marriage suffered. My ministry suffered. I was a living hypocrite talking about loving my neighbor when I had the hardest time doing it myself. I began to look at myself repugnantly. I hated who I had become and began to hate myself.

My walls of defense had kept me safe for a little while, but in the end, they crumbled and collapsed on top of me. I was a mess.

 

The Hard Lesson

I realized (very slowly) that I needed to change. I began to open myself up to others. It was an arduous task. Protecting my own insecurity had led to my downfall. There were other factors mixed in that made things extremely difficult, but I at least could control my friendships. Finally, I decided to open up.

That has helped me out extremely. Trust is hard for me to give out. I had been hurt too often in the past, but then I realized that the benefits of trusting people far outweigh the hurts that I might otherwise receive from those who would betray my trust. I am by no means out of the woods and I need to continually improve myself. One of the most difficult things for me to do is to make friends in my own community. Being an officer in The Salvation Army tends to be isolating. There seems to be an unspoken rule that fraternizing is not allowed. However, I believe that actually goes against God’s command to love each other as we love him.

Being vulnerable to others is a discipline that I am still learning. I hope someday to be proficient at it. I will always be an introvert, but I don’t have to be a lonely one.

 

Heaven is for real…and so are we! (Don’t be a blind label follower)

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I wouldn’t attempt to criticize “Christian” movies coming out onto the silver screen.  I think perhaps they have a message that might reach certain people.  Take the most recent movie, for example – “Heaven is for real” based on the book and real life account of Colton Burpo: 

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I am certainly not in a place to judge the authenticity of his story, this isn’t my purpose for this blog entry.  I recognize too that Heaven is for real.  That when Jesus said that He was going there to prepare a place for us (starting with His original disciples) that He meant it.  Life does not end at the final exhalation of breath, but continues…How or where that will be is still a mystery to us all.  But here is where faith comes in.  

Still…

I don’t draw my criticism of the content of this story nor the content of other such movies recently released that also have faith-based themes.  Where my criticisms lie is in the cheap budgets and production content.  

I understand the need to be relevant in the world…and I don’t necessarily go to see a movie just because it is labeled “Christian” just as I don’t necessarily patronize certain businesses because they also happen to be “Christian(s)”.  Does that label make the product better in some way?  Will their services far exceed the services of others who don’t label themselves as “Christians”?  

Another thought that comes to mind within this realm of “Christian” labeling is: Do I solely live within a “Christian” bubble then?  

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Every where I go, everyone I see, the things I choose to buy are they all “Christian”?  Is my worldview solely engaged in other Christians out there so much so that I have no contact…with “those“. “Other“.  “People“.  ????

 

Don’t get me wrong, I need to hear encouraging and challenging teachings about Christ and about faith too, but what happens next?  What will I then do with those teachings if my entire ecosystem is “Christian”?  How does that impact the lost?  How can I reach out a compassionate hand of understanding…if I don’t understand?  

 

I’m not knocking the movie “Heaven is for Real”…I think there is some serious merit in exploring Eternity and our destination there one day…but what I am knocking (for lack of a better word) are Blind Label Followers.  

Ephesians 6:12 says – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

This is sandwiched right in between the verses about putting on the whole armor of God.  
In one hand we put on our armor and gird ourselves against sin, temptation and the dark forces of evil.  In the other hand we recognize that people around us who are lost (as we once were) are not the enemy!  Sin is the enemy and we wage a spiritual war within this world.  

If we only exist within the “Christian” label ecosystem how can we reach out to those who are completely blind to sin and its trappings? 

Here’s what I am not saying: 
I am not saying stop watching strictly “Christian” movies…there’s a time and place for them and at times an active evangelistic tool.
I am not saying don’t buy anything “Christian” either…that’s just plain dumb and we need edification and challenge through authentic Christ-following authors and teachers.  

What I am saying:
Break the Christian bubble if you’re living in one.  
Reach out into the world (don’t be conformed to it mind you) and love as Christ did to the whosoever.
Be wise and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in discerning how you should act and be instead of living through “group think”.  
Live out-loud your faith but take the time to listen to the needs of the unsaved around you!

-Just a thought.

ATTENTION: Join me tomorrow as I explore what others have said about seeing Jesus face to face.

Just something else to ponder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These scars are beautiful!

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When I was a young boy I received a bicycle for Christmas, it was blue.  I rode that bike all over the place.  I loved that bike.  There is something freeing about those moments as a young kid riding a bike around town and facing new adventures with that new found freedom.  That freedom took me to the scene of my accident…that sounds more dramatic than it really was.  I fell off of my bike and in the process I gashed my knee open.  The “accident” wasn’t very traumatic or memorable with the exception that there was a lot of blood localized around a cut on my knee.  Upon further review I probably should have had stitches but it was bandaged and wrapped and slowly it healed.  In the healing process it itched, occasionally it burned, but over time it formed into a white lined scar right across my right kneecap.  It is still there to this day, though smaller just as that young boy was so long ago.  

We all have scars.  

Some scars are there to remind us of how foolish or negligent we’ve been in our lives while others were inflicted on us by an outside source.  Regardless of how they were formed they have become part of our identities now.  

Some scars though,  have not marked us on our bodies but rather our hearts and our minds through hurtful experiences inflicted by others around us.  These scars too are long lasting, some we carry with us to this very day and they mark us and are a part of our current identity.  

What kinds of scars do you have?  I would be willing to guess most of us carry with us both types of scars.  We have known the pain of physical afflictions and accidents which have left their marks on us, and we have also known the psychological and harming pain of scars of words slung our way and even the pain of losing a family member to death.  These scars cut us deep and leave their impression on us…sometimes for life.  

Can you recognize the beauty in your scars?   

We have lived.  We have not come through this life (thus far) unscathed.  We have experiences to share with others.  Wisdom to convey.   We have knowledge that we wouldn’t have possessed before earning (or falling victim to) these scars.  

Could I ever relate to a parent in mourning at the loss of their child?  No absolutely not.  I can empathize.  I can weep with them, but I cannot completely understand the heart-wrenching pain involved in that scar.   Although I cannot relate, other parents who have lost children along the way can share their wisdom and understanding during such a time of heart-wrecked agony.  These scars carry with them beauty.  Not because life is lost but because hope can be conveyed.  

I don’t wish to imply any of these scars are lovely when inflicted on us.  They burn.  They hurt…sometimes severely.  Sometimes they maim and disfigure us either physically or emotionally…but there is beauty on the other side of our healing.  There is knowledge and understanding…there is opportunity to relate with others and to help in their healing.  

From our scars to His…

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“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” by Caravaggio

Jesus held out His hands towards Thomas.  We call him “doubting Thomas”…I think we all can relate to him.  Jesus had died.  He had suffered horribly.  His agony had been witnessed, and there was no way to come back from that.  How could the other disciples say Jesus was now alive again?  How could they make Thomas’ soon to be scar in his heart hurt any more?  It was like salt on a fresh wound.  And so He doubted their accounts of a risen teacher.  He vehemently drew the line and was unwilling to cross it until (as if it would ever happen) He physically touched Jesus’ wounded body.  So the scars came to Thomas.  The wounded hands and feet of Jesus suddenly appeared to the disciples in a hide out along with the rest of their Savior.  He stood before them and Thomas had to place his hands into those nail scared hands and a spear pierced side…then He believed.  

Scars are beautiful…

I don’t mean to say that in a masochistic sort of way or idle fascination in pain and maiming, I mean that in relational love and experience.  Thomas placed his inexperienced hands in the nail scarred hands of the Savior and was forever changed.  Jesus knew what it was like to suffer.  Jesus knew what it was like to carry these scars with Him…and His beauty marked the hearts and left a sacred scar on His disciples.  

What was meant to be evil and  damaging in totality had become beautiful and life-giving.  What was meant to destroy and cruelly maim had become healing and salvation to all the world.  These scars are beautiful!  

Do you have scars like these that you can share with the world around you?  These are the scars of experience and understanding.  These are the sacred scars of healing and restoration.  These scars say “I understand and I can relate to what you are going through!”  God doesn’t bring these scars upon us, but He can bring something marvelous out of our trials and experiences.  The damaging things that this life and even Satan himself can throw at us God can turn into victories.  

The scars of a recovering alcoholic who has beaten the odds and stayed sober can lead other alcoholics to find Hope.  The scars of an abused woman who has turned her life around and escaped that wounding lifestyle of physical abuse can bring hope to another woman who is still stuck and imprisoned in that life of hell.  

Do you have scars?  
Can you bring hope?  
Do you have a story to share with one who needs to hear it?  
There is victory in the scars.  
There is hope in the nail scarred hands of a Savior who understands.  

These scars are beautiful!  

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