My skin is rubbish at healing. I have all kinds of scars from stupid mishaps, and operation scars that look horrible because they just haven’t healed well. But those scars and what they represent, are part of what make me who I am.
Scars are a sign that something has happened to our bodies. A scar is defined as a mark left, or a lasting after effect. We are different from how we were before. Scars are not just physical, they can be emotional too, and can effect us in all kinds of ways.
There are many on the internet offering scar removal – but that may just remove the visible mark, it doesn’t effect the fact that something has happened in our lives.
In Genesis, Jacob is involved in a fight, a struggle, a wrestling match. Jacobs has been a troubled life. Now he is on his way to be reunited with his brother Esau.
He is spending the night alone. During that night a man appears and wrestles with him. This struggle lasts until almost daybreak.
Jacob is scarred in this encounter, but also changed and blessed. His name is changed, he is given a new start. He has wrestled with God and he is no longer the man he was before. And the final act before the man leaves – to bless the newly named Israel – what Jacob had asked for.
“Stuff” happens in life. Life as a Christian does not get rid of all the bad things that happen. We are not immune to tragedy and hardship. God does not lift us from the life that everyone has to live. That would not be fair – and I don’t think it would be good for us. I don’t think it does anyone any good to have their life made easy for them. Great enjoy the smooth bits, but don’t expect it all the time. There are things we have to grapple with. There will be tragedy and pain that happen to us. We all carry scars of some kind.
I suppose the difference is what we do with those scars. Do we pick at them, so they never get a chance to even begin to heal? Are we aware of our own scars, and those of others, and be gentle where it’s tender? Do we learn to live with them, and allow them to change us and the way we behave? Are we willing to let God touch us and leave his mark?
There will be times when we will need to wrestle with God. Times to ask questions, work out who he is, what he means to us.
There may be circumstances in life we have to wrestle with. There may be scars we are left with that challenge us – but as God touches our lives, so he blesses us.
Scars are horrible, but when they begin to heal they can change us. They are not to beat us down or destroy us, but they help to shape us and equip us for our calling in life. Scars make us more sensitive. Being touched by God can change our lives. Wrestling with him brings his blessing.
Do we wrestle with God? Are we willing to let him touch us and change us? Will we let him bless us? Can our scars help make us someone new?
I’ve been musing about what I was trying to say about this passage all week, and then today, Day 14, in The Methodist Prayer Handbook 2010/2011, Martyn Atkins shares this prayer, which seems to sum it up:
God does not always lead by the shortest route,
because some things are best learned on long journeys.
God sometimes leads us into the wilderness,
as well as by still waters,
because some destinations are reached with scars as well as smiles.
God urges us to travel light,
but also to take things of our precious past with us,
because some things remind us
where we’ve come from
and bring hope of a future.
God guides in different ways,
sometimes half-hidden, as in a grey cloud,
sometimes blazingly clear
because God’s people are called to travel
as God guides them,
and there is never a time
when God’s guidance fails or ceases.
As Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Amen
copyright Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes