The Scars That Stay

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“Do you think this scar will ever heal?” Cole stared down at the one-inch jag of bumpy skin on the top of his right foot.

“It’s healed. It’s just a scar. It’ll go away as your foot grows. It’ll probably be mostly faded by the time you’re a teenager.”

The memory of Cole getting the scar six plus years ago came back like a flash of lightning over the Gulf. My sister, our three boys, and I ventured out to Ft. Myers Beach on a muggy summer afternoon. We built sand castles, barely avoided gray-blue water walls of summer’s flash storms, licked melting ice cream, and enjoyed watching our youngsters run around like bathing-suit clad wild men, wrestling and digging in the cooled-off sand and shells underneath the setting sun.

During one of the last playful jaunts around the sand playground that evening, four-year old Cole let out a yelp, hobbling in my direction. Trickles of crimson streaked down his foot.

I rushed toward him, imagining a broken shell or piece of a broken bottle stuck in his tender sole.

Squinting through the twilight, I tried to figure out what Cole stepped on. He pointed to a four or five-inch long, green stick lying near his feet. Upon closer inspection, I realized he’d been poked on the top of his foot, not the bottom.

I found a band-aid, stopped the bleeding, and we began packing up for the night. After tucking the strange green branch in my beach bag, we headed home.

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Later, I learned that Cole had stepped on a Red Mangrove propagule. One end of the propagule is a relatively sharp, pliable barb intended to stick in the sand in order for the plant to begin new growth. The green bean-on-steroids seed pod had somehow jabbed the top of his foot, causing a decent puncture and a scar that’s still visible half a decade later.

Scars.

We all have them, each with its own story. Some scars bring us precious new life; others draw us too close to death.

First they hurt, then they heal. Eventually, they fade. Some are tiny, others gruesome, but always they’re marks of physical trials and emotional pain where healing occurred but memories remain.

During a sermon last year, our pastor noted that the only physical scar from earth we’ll see when we’re home in heaven are the scars on our Savior’s hands.

Jesus’ scars. The scars that stay. For you. For me.

Thomas and the disciples saw these scars after Jesus rose from the grave and spent time with them in His glorified body, before returning to His Father’s right hand in heaven.

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” (John 20:24-29)

Instead of anger or indignation at Thomas’s stubborn skepticism, Jesus offered Thomas the opportunity to see and touch His scars. To believe. Thomas’s disbelief vanished upon seeing his beloved Teacher’s wounds — undeniable evidence that obliterated his doubt and quadrupled his faith.

As Easter draws near, and we’re inundated with chocolate, bunnies, and spring dresses that impress, don’t forget His scars. Even to the skeptic Jesus will show them — His pain that became our eternal gain. His sacrifice, for our salvation.

Amazing Grace.

Jesus.

 “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” Isaiah 49:16

God’s Christmas Consolation

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“You said you were going to play with me when you finished that book—you promised!”

The familiar words came from our playroom.  I listened to my boys’ exchange, wondering if I needed to intervene.  The upset child dragged out loud words like a ferry horn warning of imminent departure.

There are times as a parent when I leave them alone to work it out, but there are other situations when Mommy Mediator steps in. Dueling voices rose, so I walked into the room and reiterated how important it was to keep their word.  When you promise something, do what you said you’d do. I reminded them that a promise is like a gift to someone, and when we break it, we yank the gift back, hurting the other person as well as ourselves.

When someone promises us something our heart desires, we hold tight to that promise, placing our hope in the person’s word and faith in their actions.  The Bible details many promises that God brought to fruition among His people: an arced, colorful promise to Noah that marks stormy skies to this day; His seemingly impossible promise to elderly Abram that he would be the father of many nations; and God’s greatest promise of a perfect Lamb offered for our sin, His Son Jesus—fully God and fully man and overflowing with grace.

Within the Christmas story we read about another promise, this one given by God to one of His faithful.  In Luke 2, we’re introduced to Simeon, a righteous elderly man of sterling reputation who lived in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus’ birth.  The Bible tells us that Simeon was “just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). God had revealed a promise to Simeon through the Holy Spirit that he would see the promised Messiah before his death.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:25-26)

Jesus was born quietly in a stable, with only Mary, Joseph, and the surrounding animals to witness His humble entrance into a broken world that needed Him.  God sent the shepherds to visit the Christ child, affirming His promise of a Messiah had come to pass. Once the shepherds arrived at the stable in Bethlehem, they found the “Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12, NKJV).

In His sovereignty, God was tying together His promise to Simeon with the lives of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  Shortly after His birth, Joseph and Mary brought their newborn Son into Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice on His behalf and present Him to the Lord.  At the same time, Simeon was prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple.

So he (Simeon) came by the Spirit into the temple.  And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:27-32)

As he neared the dusk of his days, Simeon held God’s prophesied Messiah; peace overcame him as this life-long promise came to completion.  What joy must have filled his heart as he held God’s perfect Salvation in his arms!  Jesus was the Christmas Consolation for Simeon, just as He is for us today.

This Christmas season, let’s hope in God’s Word alone, knowing He is faithful to His promises and that through Jesus—God’s Christmas Consolation—we’re given new life and unshakeable hope.  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’” (Psalm 70:4)