As I carry the mail to rural residents in the Texas Panhandle, I spend several hours in my car traveling many miles on countless dirt and county roads. While I travel, I enjoy listening to Christian radio stations and I have heard many good sermons from a variety of preachers. This has been a blessed season of my life to soak in the word of God and to listen as others expound on the word. Recently I heard a message on the book of Jonah. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the preacher or even the station since I listen to several stations depending on the reception in the area.
Anyway, this pastor was speculating on whether it was possible that Jonah carried scars from his encounter in the belly of the whale and that perhaps those scars made his message of God’s coming judgment and cry for repentance to the city of Nineveh even more believable. Even if he carried no outward scars, his testimony of God’s justice and punishment, his own repentance and God’s mighty hand of salvation would have given credibility to his message. Jonah’s life conveyed evidence of both God’s judgment and His salvation.
As I listened, I began to think about those whose scars are a testimony to the world of God’s goodness. Some people have visible scars that bare obvious evidence of God’s grace, mercy, and restoration in their lives; their scars like marred wood add beauty to their life and their testimony. Some have been rescued from sin and their scars are a banner they wear as a testimony to God’s salvation. Some have been redeemed and restored through circumstances and though their scars may not be as visual they cannot hide nor squelch the joyous light that radiates from them as they loudly proclaim their testimony and praise to the God of their salvation. Sometimes God’s restoration is only a restoration of joy and peace in the midst of difficult situations and it leaves the world puzzled and confused because there is no doubt that wounds have been bound and healed and no longer have any crippling power despite difficult circumstances.
And yet there are others who have also received a weighty dose of grace – those who have been saved from the death sentence of sin and whose self-inflicted wounds have been bandaged and healed – who never bare their scars but keep them covered and hidden as though they don’t exist. They may – I may – should the moment call for testimony – hold out to the world a finger that has had a splinter removed and boast of the Band-Aid there, but we deceive ourselves when we hide the wide scars of deep chest wounds. We are self-righteous Pharisees unwilling to admit that we have wounded and have been wounded by covetousness, gossip, adultery, disobedience, fornication, maliciousness, envy, unrighteousness, wickedness, pride, and a host of other wrongs.
We were born with a sin nature into a fallen world, but so often we want to deny that we struggle, have struggled, and will continue to struggle with both inward and outward sin. *Although we are given great promises that we can with diligence add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, we easily forget we have obtained precious faith and these virtues through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ and He has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.
We forget that we were purged from our old sins and obtained noting on our own. We all have been wounded and hurt by sin, but we have a Savior who heals. So let us rejoice in our salvation and rejoice in our restoration; and let us pray for strength to remove the covering of self-righteous pride and lay bare the scars of those deep heart wounds remembering that scars can add beauty to our lives, credibility to our testimony, and encouragment to those whose wounds are still raw.
* 2 Peter 1:1-9