Your scars authenticate your witness.

8 03 2016

pablo (8)A friend shared this story with me. He was a pastor who had a moral failure in his personal life and had to leave the ministry. He and his family went through a deeply difficult valley of repentance and shame. His wife stayed by his side, and his young children weathered the transition from respected ministry to uncertainty. The family very nearly lost their home. They were shunned by many friends and former church members. My friend did not have a marketable skill, but his wife got a job as a school teacher. They were barely able to make it through. After many months he was invited to teach a Bible study, which after two years led to his being invited to serve as the pastor of a small congregation.

While all of this was going on, my friend came back to the foot of the cross in deep repentance. He listened to recorded sermons, sometimes four or five in a day, while he watched the children at home. He said that the temptation to return to his former sin diminished as he filled his soul with the truth of God’s Word. He realized that his broken soul was being healed by the grace of God.

The Word of God comes to us in deeper meaning as we go through these cycles of death, burial, and resurrection. In reading through the gospels, my friend was struck by the fact that when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection that His body was changed. Jesus could appear in a room when the doors were shut. Yet even in His post-resurrection body, Jesus still had the scars of crucifixion. When Jesus appeared to Thomas, who said he needed physical proof if he was to believe in the resurrection, He said, “Reach your fingers here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).

My friend illustrates a vital truth about our resurrection-like experiences. As we manifest the risen Christ, our scars authenticate our witness. They prove that we are not propounding theory, but are speaking out of our own stories. The scars show that we are genuine people who have gone to Golgotha and sacrificed. We have grappled with the will of God and surrendered. We have failed, denied, and doubted. But God has been faithful. The wounds of Jesus’ cross have healed our failings. His grace has replaced our shame with honor. When people see our scars, they gain hope that God can also accept them with all of their faults. Resurrection does not happen to the strong. It raises those who were dead and buried. Our story of struggle is the hopeful news that earns a hearing from genuine seekers.

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