Physical scars are one of the most notable reminders of trauma to the body, however, all scars are not negative. Scars are received not only as a visible reminder of experiences we have endured, but as a tangible reason to be grateful for being delivered.
I have numerous scars on my body and all of them carry significance. Even thirty years later, I glean nuggets of wisdom by reflecting upon them. There are endless purposes for scars, but among them are disobedience, mercy, sacrifice, and healing.
When I was seven years old, I was a participant in summer camp at the local Salvation Army. When the bus dropped off the children in the fenced in playground, the intent was that we all play until class time. There were, however, a group of children that saw this time as an occasion to climb over the barbed wire fence and visit the store just up the street for candy. Of course I was included in this group, but on one particular instance I climbed the fence and slipped. The sharp wire at the top of the fence dug deep into my wrist and prevented me from moving any further. I remained there until one of the counselor came over to assist me and assure me that my mother would be notified.
In the mid-1990’s, I worked in a silica process plant, in order to support my wife and two children. It certainly wasn’t a glorious job, and I came home regularly with cuts and scrapes from working with sharp material. In the winter, I would wear two pairs of gloves and three pairs of sweatpants, for safety reasons as well warmth. My job was to use a sledgehammer to break 6-foot tall silica ingots into pieces small enough to fit into the crushing machine.
One day, I wasn't paying attention to the direction in which the sharp glass would fall and it rolled into my leg, immediately slicing through all three pairs of sweatpants and deep into my shin. It took several moments for the blood to begin to flow, but when it did, there was plenty of it! The injury was not serious, but it was enough for me to be sent home for the day. I remember arguing with the plant manager about how much I needed the money and couldn’t afford to miss work.
As a soldier in Somalia, I stayed in a tent each evening, only partially asleep and expecting to be attacked by the ‘enemy’ at any time. One quiet evening I got up in the middle of the night to use the portable toilet and heard a single gunshot. A split second later, I heard the corner of the wooden toilet crack and felt a sharp sting under my left eye. A splinter was lodged in there as evidence of how close I came to having my life extinguished.
In 2002, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, an immunodeficiency disease that seriously limited my ability to breathe. At one point in time, my lungs were only processing 40% of my oxygen intake. The doctors performed a biopsy, by making an incision just above my collarbone and to insert their instruments behind my ribcage to take samples from my lungs. There were no promises of recovery and the doctors informed me that this disease could spread to other areas of my body and there was a possibility I would not be able to talk again.
The tone of my voice did change, but God healed my body to the point that I became more focused and receptive to His leadership in my life.