Have you ever been scarred?
By falling out of a tree or being run over by your sibling’s bike or accidentally stapling your finger? Maybe your scars are more internal than external; from listening to too many ghost stories or being hurt emotionally at some point in your life. We all carry scars of some sort.
In Mark chapter 5 we read about a man Jesus met who made his home among the tombs and mountains because he was possessed by an unclean spirit. No one could hold him down or make him settle—though he was bound with chains, even those could not restrain the raging of the demons within him. Day and night he roamed in deserted places, like a wild beast, outcast from society, “crying, and cutting himself with stones.” I don’t know how many years this had gone on, but I imagine this existence was taking its toll on him and turning him into a shadow of what he once was.
Then Jesus stepped out of a ship onto Gadarene shores and this man came face to face with the Son of God. The Bible says, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him…” Jesus cast out the unclean spirit and restored the man to his right mind, and the former maniac begged to be able to follow Him wherever He went. Instead of granting this request, as we would expect Him to, Jesus told the man, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” The next verse says, “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”
I love this story. Not so much because of the part when the man was under demon possession–but even that part is necessary to make this account the miracle it is. Because without the tragedy there could have been no triumph. He would never have been mentioned in the Bible if he had not had a problem for Christ to solve. And what I really enjoy about the whole thing was that the scars he bore from his former life could now serve as a testimony to the wondrous power and compassion of God. The traces of his fetters from his years captive to Satan now were transformed into trophies of God’s redeeming love.
And that is why the Lord in His wisdom allows us to suffer scars. Not because He does not love us, but because He loves us so much that He wants to show His glory through our lives, no matter how far He has to reach to rescue us from Satan’s captivity. Each scar is a story. And each story is meant to be shared to the glory of God.
I have done things and said things that besmirched my testimony and haunt my memories. Wretched decisions that led to even worse actions. I used to wonder why God allowed me to go so wrong so many times, how my past was supposed to help my future. But somewhere along the way I realized that those scars were not meant to be stumbling-blocks preventing me from living out the perfect will of God. They were meant to be stepping-stones to wiser choices and grander testimonies of God’s grace.
Just like that maniac of Gadara, my scars are a story I must share—to keep others from making the same mistakes, to teach others Whom to turn to for salvation from the ravages of sin, to show others the hope mankind can know because of Jesus Christ. We are saved “that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9)
Psalm 40: 2-3 “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”
Maybe you are saved, but scarred. How are you treating those scars? Are you using them as stumbling-blocks in the way of God’s will, or are you letting them become stepping-stones to the greater glory of God?