"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders..." Revelation 5:6 (NIV)
Just one week after I had left Congo for college and a new life in the United States-the land that had gotten into my blood after eight years of living there-I was involved in a major vehicle accident. From that accident, I received a gash on the left side of my head that ran from the top of my scalp just above my left temple along my hairline to the top of my left ear. My bleeding head wound required fifty-six stitches by a plastic surgeon and about seven full days of experiencing the aches and pains of a person in her nineties. My mother and Nicol were concerned about the pallor of my face because I had lost so much blood in the ninety minute wait between entering the small hospital's emergency room and the surgeon sewing up my head. I carry a scar on my head that can be seen on a hot summer's day whenever I pull my hair up with a clip away from my face. Every chair of all the hair stylists since the accident has become the seat of information as to the cause of the wavy scar on my head. Most days, my six inch scar remains undetected by those who do not know its existence because it is hidden in my hair. I have often wondered how my fragile, paper-thin adolescent and twenty-something's self-esteem would have fared had the scar been moved two inches closer to the middle of my forehead, unable to be hidden. I have thanked the Lord many times that I carry my scar in a place that is not visible to most eyes.
Despite its not being obvious, I still want to hide my scar. Although the outcome of the accident has been minimally impacting on my life, I do not want to be reminded of how I received it everytime I look in the mirror. I can still remember the racing of the vehicle's motor, the out-of-control feeling, and then the nothingness that happened because of me being thrust into unconsciousness for several seconds. I don't want to dwell on the warm feeling of something running down the left side of my face and looking at my bloody hand, realizing that the warmth was my blood. I especially don't like to remember how humiliating it was to wear the guaze cap around my head for the ten days following until I was able to have my stitches removed. Time has allowed me to hazily recall the fact that I had nightmares for months afterward that the accident had not turned out as it did.
There is Someone I know who continues to bear the scars that He received after He had been crucified as a criminal on a cruel cross. The apostle John received a vision of heaven and its wonders, including the risen, crucified Christ. John called Jesus a Lamb. And as John gazed on this Lamb, what struck him most was that Christ still bore visible scars so that John knew that He had once been killed.
I do everything I can to hide my scars. Especially the scars my soul has received. I have found that the game of appearing to have it altogether is not only a lie, but that it is offensive to pretend everything is perfect, that I have no scars. The amazing wonder of this Lamb, my Jesus, is that He can cause beauty to be lived out of a scarred life. Jesus enables me to take that which has brought me so much pain and have Him use it to comfort someone else. My scars do not have to be the source of humiliation, shame, or despair they were when I received them. Those same scars can speak the loudest to another about the power of my God. He is the Redeemer of hurts. He can take those hurts and not only bring me healing, but use that healing to bring hope to someone else who desperately needs it. Yes, the evidence that the hurt, pain, or sorrow which happened can be visible, but my healed scars can take on a new voice and bring great glory to my Jesus from what was once raw and bleeding. Only He can do that.
One of the most profound poems I have ever read about the scars of Christ was written by an Irish lass who gave up her comfortable life to live and die in India to save babies from the horrors of shrine prostitution. If you have never read Amy Carmichael's books, I strongly recommend adding them to your library. She truly sat at the feet of her Savior, which is conveyed through the words of her pen. These are her thoughts on our scars:
Hast Thou No Scar?
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?
- AMY CARMICHAEL
Jesus, don't let me stay stuck in bitterness and hurt over life's scars. Let my surrendered and healed scars bring You great glory. Give me Your beauty for these ashes because You have promised that by Your stripes (scars), I am healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)