It was just a few weeks past my third birthday, but I remember it clearly. I was donning a two piece, striped, colorful bathing suit, remnants of M-n-M’s spread across the corners of my mouth, and wearing my hair in my favorite style: dog ears with “Cindy Brady” curls. My mother, older sister and a dear family friend had spent the day at the local swimming pool. “You stay in car. I will be right back,” my mom said as we arrived at the friend’s house. She wanted to help our friend carry her supplies to the door and make sure she arrived in the house safely. Ever the strong willed child, I decided rather than staying in the car I would step out to say hello to Misty, the family’s St. Bernard. No sooner had my feet hit the ground when Misty’s teeth grabbed hold of my face and knocked me to the ground. I remember my mom prying the dog’s mouth off my face, before we hopped in the car and headed to the local emergency room.
Sixty-seven stitches to the face later we were dismissed from the hospital to make the drive home. There is rarely a day or two that goes by that I don’t briefly think about that incident. I certainly don’t dwell on it and it goes without saying that the experience didn’t alter my love for animals as I have four dogs at my feet right now. Yet every time I look in the mirror or look at a picture of myself, I am reminded of the August Dog Day of Infamy. Why?
BECAUSE I SEE THE SCARS
My parents took me to a plastic surgeon who advised against the surgery. “The wound will heal,” the surgeon informed my parents, “but the scars will always remain.”
Not only do I have the many facial scars from the bite, I have several other scars, whether they be from accidents or medical procedures. And there are other scars too: the scar in my heart when I buried my dad, scars from broken friendships and scars from bad decisions. Rarely do I talk about my scars, but occasionally someone will ask and I’m happy to explain. You see, each and every scar has a story behind it. A purpose.
EVERY SCAR REPRESENTS A STORY
First, scars represent a moment in one’s life. Some scars happen that are out of our control while others occur because we make terrible mistakes of our own will. (Had I obeyed my mother, the day would have turned out differently.) Scars remind us that life isn’t perfect and we will experience pain, trouble, and heartbreak in this life.
In this world there will be trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
Secondly, whether they are physical or emotional, scars remind us that we were wounded and bruised, but the injury has healed and we have been delivered from our pain. All throughout scripture God delivered His people. He delivered His people out of Egypt, delivered Daniel from the fiery furnace, delivered Mordecai from his impending death in the book of Esther, the examples are nonstop. Psalm 107:6 tells us, “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”
Finally, and most importantly, when I look at my scars, I am overwhelmed knowing the scars that have impacted my life the most aren’t even mine. They can’t be found anywhere on my body. They are on My Savior’s body - on His hands and His feet from the nails; on His side from the sword that pierced Him.
HE MADE THEM HIS VERY OWN
Each Sunday we have the opportunity to pause and deliberately remember His scars and the impact they have had on our life. I’m reminded of a verse from the old hymn, I STAND AMAZED, particularly the second line.
He took my sins and my sorrows
He made them His very own.
He bore the burden to Calvary
And suffered and died alone.
(Written by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, Public Domain)
As I think about my physical and emotional scars, I can’t fathom enduring them for anyone else, nor can I imagine bearing someone’s burden so much that I suffer and die, yet that is what our Savior willingly did for us. And even if I were generous enough to suffer for others, my parents would have never allowed it, yet the Father willingly sent His Son to suffer for us. And Christ endured pain and death for every single person that would ever live. And that story - the story of His suffering, death, and scars - should be remembered and told in detail every chance we get.