Do you have any scars? Sure you do! I bet you’ve got an interesting story to tell about how you got each and every one of those scars. I’ve got a scar on my right knee with its own story. When I was four years old we lived in the town of Liberal for about nine months. It was tough on my Mom, a city girl from the East coast. Natives of Liberal, Kansas, will tell you that their fair city may not be the edge of the world but you can see it from Main Street. Mom bemoaned the constant dust. I think it was even more difficult to leave her supportive network of family and friends to move to the edge of the world. She befriended a neighbor who had two children just a little older than me. During our short stay in Liberal, Mom’s sweet friend needed surgery. When she came home from the hospital, my mother dragged myself and my two brothers to the neighbor’s house for a cheerful visit. I can’t remember if I was kicking and screaming but I didn’t go willingly. When God fashioned me He didn’t have a doctor or nurse in mind. The entire concept of surgery, with the cutting and the bleeding, freaked me out. It still does. Mom eventually relented and allowed me to return to our house. I ran so fast that my feet outran my body and I fell on the rough sidewalk. Thirty-two years later I still wear the scar. The wound has healed but a scar remains.
Did you know that when Jesus appeared to the disciples one week after His resurrection, He had scars? John 20:27 (NIV) tells us ‘Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”’ Now the Bible doesn’t explicitly use the word ‘scar’ but we get the idea of a mark left by a wound. We all have scars.
Some wounds cut so deep it takes a long time to heal. Some scars can’t be seen on the skin. Some scars lie in our hearts and minds; the rough remnant of an old wound. Some things you just never get over. The empty space left by the loss of a loved one. The empty arms left by a stillborn baby. The lost expectations left by a tragic accident or lingering illness. No amount of therapy or prayer or compassion seems to completely remove the scar. These rough spots lie within us as latent reminders that something is seriously wrong with this place. You and I both know it.
In Ecclesiastes 3:11, King Solomon observed that God has put eternity in the human heart. We have some instinctive knowledge of what life should be and we know that reality doesn’t live up to our utopian longings. According to Milton we live in a paradise lost. We have a word for this brokenness, evil. There is evil in the world; things that God never intended for us to experience. This evil embodies the natural consequences of sin, echoing its brokenness through our hearts, minds, bodies, and relationships. It’s so wrong, it’s so broken, and it just can’t be saved. But I do find hope for my scars. It’s found in Revelation 21-22. In these chapters I read about Jesus, my Devine Champion, making everything new - even me. He promises to wipe every tear from my eyes. He promises a new order of life without death, mourning, crying, or pain. A garden with a tree covered in leaves that possess healing powers. I want to go there, don’t you?
My Devine Champion is so faithful to His promises that the apostle Paul considered it as good as done. You can read his words to the early Christians about God making us a new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Philippians 1:6. My mind always wonders: if God is doing the good work in me, making me new, then what is my part in the work? What is my responsibility? Jesus’ teaching in John 15 answers my question. I am to remain in Him. He invites me to follow Him, mimicking His attitudes and actions as a young child follows their parents. I am to receive His word, cultivating His truths within me as a gardener grows tomatoes in his garden. I am to offer to others the same love and forgiveness that He has already given to me. Expectantly waiting for the fullness of time, when everything including me will be completely made new.
Revelation 21:5 ESV ‘And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”’