Have you ever been wounded so badly you couldn’t bear to look at yourself in the mirror? When I was young, my family and I were in our back yard, my great-grandpa was sitting on a bench behind me with his retired police dog, a German Shepherd named Boots, beside him. My grandma called my name. As I turned to see what she wanted, Boots lunged forward snatching my face in his mouth. His bite tore up my face. My mom rushed me into the bathroom. I was bleeding all over the sink. As I rinsed out my mouth, blood came squirting through my cheeks. My mom reassured me everything would be okay, and my dad rushed me to the hospital. When I got back home, I looked in the mirror and saw lumps of skin with thread sticking out all over my face. I remember thinking, I’m going to look like Frankenstein for the rest of my life.
Sadly, as horrific as my face looked, it paled in comparison to the wounds I carried inside. As a child I was sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused. I would hide in a crawl space under the stairs in my bedroom closet and pray for God to make it all stop. I seemed to be drawn to friends I viewed as being worse off than me. My elementary school friends were beaten, burned, bullied, verbally and emotionally abused. One friend’s mom would swear at him, call him vile names, slap him, kick him, and burn his feet and armpits with lit cigarettes, just because he didn’t fetch her coffee and cigarettes fast enough. Another friend’s father would come home drunk and beat his eight-year-old son daily to remind him who “the man of the house” was. Another was bullied in school because of a facial disfigurement. We each ended up with deep physical, mental, and emotional wounds that would seemingly never heal. Over time the abuse lessened but the effects lingered.
While I grew up in a religious family, neither me, nor my friends were raised in homes where biblical Christianity was taught. I was taught a religion with very little mention of Jesus. I was told not to read the Bible because only church leaders could understand it. However, when I was nine years old, I felt I needed to know what the Bible said. One day while alone at the doctor’s office I saw a children’s Bible sitting on a table in the waiting room. I figured it would be easy to understand so I took it. I feel it led me to discover God’s truth. In my church, I heard talks about family, church history, and testimonies of belief in the church. In the Children’s Bible I read about salvation through Jesus, His life, crucifixion, resurrection, and the hope of the coming Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Reading the bible lessened the pain of my internal wounds.
My friends and I started searching for peace and healing. They chose drugs, drinking, and sleeping around. I sought solace in my hiding place under the stairs with the “acquired” bible. I am so thankful that at the age of 20 God reached out and I said yes to His offer of adoption. Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us that even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. It is the most amazing life-changing experience imaginable. When I confessed allegiance to God and repented of my sins, God changed me inside and out. He healed my wounds. The scars from those wounds are still there, but I now view them as the source that drew me to fervently seek God. Giving my life to God transformed my wounds from something dreaded to beautifully healed scars. They became testaments of the good news of who God is and all He has done for me through his Son Jesus Christ. They are a witness of what God can do for even the most broken, beaten down people in humanity.
Whether good, funny, or so hurtful, they cut to the very core of our soul; scars represent timelines of our life’s stories. What about your wounds? Your scars? No matter how devastating the abuse or suffering, God sees your pain and He cares. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you. Jesus purposefully and lovingly suffered unimaginable pain, torture, and torment to grant his followers healing and eternity in Heaven. Jesus was beaten and scourged beyond recognition, with such deep wounds, flesh was torn from the bone. Jesus’ scars symbolize the ultimate price He paid to secure healing of our sins and traumas. Isaiah 53:5-6 states “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 says “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
After his resurrection, Jesus showed Thomas his nail-scarred hands and pierced side. Jesus told Thomas “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). What will it take for you to believe in Jesus Christ, give your life to him, and be saved? There is healing available for your wounds. Jesus longs to redeem you, heal you and welcome you into His family.
The Bible says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Every day is one day closer to death and the coming of the Lord. No one is guaranteed even one hour of life. Jesus said “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus forgave my sins, healed my wounds, and made me new. Because of the scars He bares from the wounds, He suffered for me, my scars have become a beautiful reminder of His healing in my life. What He has done for me He wants to do for you. Will you let Him? Will you say yes to Him today?
Rick Winegar is a layman at New Life Christian Fellowship.