SCARS (Monday’s Devotional)

    There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.  No matter how many times you apologize, the wound has been made.”

Ever been scarred?

How can we make peace with our scars… those painful reminders of things that happened to us long ago?  We can be at peace with our hurts because Christ was with His own.  Pierced in the side… nailed at the wrists… Jesus’ resurrection message reassured us that He knew pain, humiliation, and death… but they weren’t enough to take Him out.   We can’t let our own scars knock us down for good either.

But the scar remains.  We run our fingers over that raised place on our skin and feel some of those original emotions all over again.  Why did she do that to me?  What did he have against me?

Being cut deeply hurts.

But what if the knife… or the nails… or the words… came from us.

What if we were the ones that caused the holes?  Made the scar?  Did the hurting?

Is there someone walking around today that is running their fingers over a scar that you put there?

What then?  The Bible tells us the steps…

1)  Confess It To God

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

Tell God what He already knows… If we really hurt someone, denying it may help us to believe it but it doesn’t change the truth. God knows us… the sin is there… why not give up trying to hide it from the One who gave you your brain and heart.  Feeling ashamed?  Don’t drop your chin.  Look up… face your Heavenly Father… and tell Him who you’ve hurt.  I promise you that the eyes you will see won’t be stern… but compassionate.  Confession begins the eventual healing of our heart.

2)  Own It With the One You Wronged

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  James 5:16

Oftentimes this is the hardest step.  We are OK telling God who we’ve hurt… but actually going to the person and owning the issue can be crippling.  However, your recovery can’t go any further until you make the call, write the letter, Skype, or have coffee with the one who you’ve scarred.  Be strong… take courage… and realize that God will empower you as you attempt to make things right.  You will have the right words at the right time… That restored relationship matters… both to you and God.

3)  Seek Forgiveness

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” Matthew 6:14

This step is more than just saying “I’m sorry”… it’s asking for something you haven’t earned from a person who doesn’t have to grant it.  There’s risk involved.  But any relationship that means something occasionally requires forgiveness.  Remember, you and I have already been forgiven for so much.  God loves us with such an incredible degree of passion that He has paid the ultimate price for us missing the target and sinning.  When we seek forgiveness from those we’ve wronged, we can do so knowing that regardless of the outcome, God has paid for that sin…  Getting the “You are forgiven” from a person is important for closure and healing… but knowing the penalty for that issue has already been paid is priceless.

4)  Commit to Not Repeating It

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  James 1:23-25

What was it that caused the damage in the first place?  Misplaced anger?  Not thinking things through?  Frustration?  Fatigue?  A disconnect with God?  Whatever the reason, once you have forgiveness, commit to fixing and/or changing that behavior permanently.    Many people don’t take this step and find themselves continually seeking forgiveness, hurting again, and repeating the process.  If we are going to be who Christ created us to be, we have a responsibility to reflect His character.  We need to break that chain of cause and effect in our lives… to seek to love others and extend the grace and mercy we ourselves enjoy unmerited.

5)  Forgive yourself

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”  1 Timothy 1:15-16

The hardest step of all.  You’ve broken a heart…or a trust…or put holes in a relationship that will never be the same.  You’ve confessed it to God, owned it, sought forgiveness, received it, committed to fixing the issue in your life…

But why can’t I let it go?

Read the verse above…  all of us are sinners.  All of us make huge mistakes.  The way to help forgive yourself is to put those errors in context.

When we mess up… Christ shows us mercy.  When He does that…. He shows the world  sees how patient He is.  When people see that Christ gives grace to the imperfect, they get to know His character.  When they get to know Him… they can begin a relationship with Him.

Forgive yourself because by doing so, Christ is displayed… we are freed from our past… He gets the credit… others get to see His mercy toward us… and people get saved.

Not easy… but so critically important.

It is my prayer that if the scar came by way of your mistake… you would pray and follow these steps.  You were created for greatness not a life of regret.  Allow today to be your first steps down the road to healing.  

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