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The Souvenir of Scars

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When I was about three years old I fell and cracked my head open on a step in our back garden.

The only bit I remember about the whole thing is sitting on a hospital bed being stitched back together, although I'm sure my mum's memory of it is far more vivid.

But even though I have no recollection of it happening, I have a little scar on my forehead which tells me about it every time I look in the mirror.

It's not big at all and most people wouldn't notice it unless they were intentionally looking for it, but there it is: a tiny mark to remind me of my clumsiness as a child.

For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.
Galatians 6:17

While it may not be as nice as thinking about holiday keepsakes or mementos from a special event, the scars that we have - both physical and emotional - can also serve to act as souvenirs for us, and even when we have been healed of the wounds that caused them, they ensure that we won't forget those significant moments of pain or trauma.

Perhaps to help us not do it again.

Or perhaps just to recognise the moments when our walk with God has been less of a stroll and more of a stagger.

Jacob

I recently discovered something new about Jacob and I think he had a kind of scar.

Jacob's journey did not start particularly well; he pretty much cheated, lied and manipulated his way through life, deceiving his own father and brother along the way.

But later in life he did manage to sort things out, restoring his relationship with his father and seeking to make peace with his brother. In the midst of this he went through an extraordinary experience:

After he had sent them [his family] across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
Genesis 32:23-25

A lot of people believe that this 'man' was in fact Jesus - God in human form come to work some stuff out with Jacob.

And Jacob was well aware of the importance of this moment.

All night long they battled on, and even after his hip was broken Jacob would still not give up:

Then the man said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!' But Jacob said, 'I won't let you go unless you bless me'.
Genesis 32:26

Jacob was indeed blessed that night and God even recognised the change in his character by giving him a new name to reflect it.

But significantly, with this blessing came pain and a 'scar' of sorts:

The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.
Genesis 32:31

Most critics are in agreement that this limp stayed with Jacob for the rest of his life, and this thought is backed up by the writer of Hebrews who comments that in his old age, Jacob worshipped as he leant on his staff (Hebrews 11:21 ).

Given the extent of this injury and a lack of orthopaedic healthcare, it would be expected that Jacob's movement would be forever affected by his encounter with Jesus.

His souvenir was pain.
His memento was a scar that lasted a lifetime.
But perhaps that is not a bad thing.

Paul

Paul also talks about a wound that he has, although we don't know the details. In 2 Corinthians 12 he talks about a thorn in his flesh which torments him, which he begs the Lord to take away, but the Lord does not.

Instead, the 'thorn' remains and serves as a permanent reminder of the need for humility.

That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

Scars

It is in these times of pain, when we are wounded in battle or broken by hardship, that our relationship with God is stretched and, hopefully, strengthened.

So it is in our scars that we find perhaps the most meaningful souvenirs - ones that remind us how far we've come, how much He cares, or how much we need Him.

But of course, we are not the only one that carries scars.

He was hated and rejected; His life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him... He suffered and endured great pain for us... He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, He made us completely well. All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the Lord gave Him the punishment we deserved.
Isaiah 53:3-6

We have a Saviour who suffered and whose scars go with Him into eternity.

Whilst the rest of us stand in the promise of 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 21 - the promise of a resurrected body free of pain and sorrow - we have already seen the risen Jesus and we know that His scars remain. Thomas witnesses the wounds of Jesus in John 20; he begs to see them to know that this is indeed His Lord and Saviour risen from the grave.

And it is.
This is Jesus.

He is with us in our pain. He holds us in our suffering. He recognises our scars.

Because He carries them with him forever.

On the last day, Jesus will look us over not for medals, diplomas, or honours, but for scars.
Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, page 48

Continue Your Journey

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Article: The Great Recycler of Pain
#Souvenir Perspective 3: Matthew 26:26-30 & 1 Corinthians 11:23-28

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