July 19, 2011
The curiosity that we all have in our human nature sometimes causes us to stare at people who may be a little different from the norm.
We see someone who is badly crippled and we catch ourselves looking and wondering what could have happened that caused that individual to be that way.
There was a young boy that went to the same church that we did many years ago, that when he was born he was almost normal: two legs, two feet, two arms, but only one hand. The one hand just never developed and it was a curious thing to see at first and he was often asked what happened.
There are times when accidents happen to a person that leaves them permanently scarred.
Back in 1961 there was a particular plane crash that had a survivor - Merrill Womach. The thing was, when the plane crashed, it caught on fire while Merrill Womach was still in the plane. He survived the crash, but he suffered third degree burns, most noticeably on his face. When he resumed his singing career at his home church, the people gave him a standing ovation when he came on stage, but they were visibly shaken at the gruesome sight.
I went to high school in Sault Ste. Marie with a young woman named Susan Yon. We were in the same grade, and were in several classes together over the years. We graduated together back in 1968.
After high school she got married, and I went to Ohio to go to college and came back married and worked at a service station on the main street in town.
One day while I was working, I watched as a car pulled out of a restaurant across the street and hit a motorcycle with two people on it. The two were Susan and her husband. We, of course, called the police and an ambulance and tried to make sure that if there was anything we could do to help, we were available.
Susan was about four months pregnant at that time, and as a result of the accident, she not only lost the baby, but because she was hit on the left leg, the leg was broken, the ankle was all but crushed, and she faced several operations so she could walk again. She lost two inches from her leg and the doctors had to put steel plates and pins in to allow her to walk. That day, Susan received permanent scars and a permanent limp.
There are lesser scars that we get - sometimes we get cut and in the healing process, scars develop.
Surgery is another source of obtaining scars.
As a city bus driver in the city of Saginaw, Michigan, many years ago, I met a lot of people. One lady in particular, would get on the bus, and sometimes ride for hours, just for something to do. We would talk and she would tell me about some of her life.
She was a heavy drinker, foul mouthed, and she used drugs. She would get drunk and become loud and boisterous.
Her husband finally divorced her, but in one of their fights, he pulled out his service pistol and shot her in the leg.
Being so abusive to herself caused her many health problems. Often she would ride the bus to get to the hospital for tests, or another surgery.
By her own confession, she said that she had had so many surgeries her body looked like a bunch of zippers.
I invited her to church many times, and finally she said she would come. My family and I drove from the north end of Bay City, to the far south side of Saginaw to bring her to church on a Sunday night.
The Lord moved in a mighty way that night, and touched Joan Rossio's heart.
The next day, Joan was scheduled for another surgery. And as she was getting prepped for surgery, she told the different ones at the hospital that she would not go down to surgery until her pastor would come and pray for her. Her pastor she had only seen once - the night before. But she had talked with the pastor, Bro. Gil Davenport, and he had agreed to go to the hospital and pray for her before her surgery.
While they were waiting for the pastor to arrive, they did a few final tests. Finally, Bro. Davenport arrived and prayed for her.
They were all set to give her the medicine to put her under, when a report came back saying that if she had been given that particular medicine, she would not have come out of the surgery. She would have had an allergic reaction to the medicine, and died.
But, because of her insistence on waiting for her pastor, the allergy was found out in time and saved her life.
After that, she came to church and was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost.
She witnessed to a friend of hers that was a 7th grade boys’ basketball coach. He came and got baptized and was filled with the Holy Ghost. He witnessed to a friend of his, and she came in and got baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost.
When Joan got saved, her scars did not disappear. They were still there. Her previous life that she had sown was still what she had to reap. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7 KJV
But though they may be ugly, scars do have some good points: scars may be the result of cuts, burns, surgery, accidents, or whatever. But what they show is that there was a healing. Scars are a reminder of past hurts.
I have a scar on my left wrist as a result of a flying hot aluminum chip, coming off the mill that I was operating, and landed under my watch band. I still remember the sizzle and the pain as I tried to get my watch off quickly. That happened in the spring of 1970, in Akron, Ohio.
I know people that have lost fingers or other parts of their body as a result of accidents. And, they can tell you how it happened. It has left scars that remind them.
There are other types of scars that we get. Scars on the physical body, man has learned to live with.
Someone, somewhere, has a scar that they overlooked, and have been able to become successful in life. Don't think that your little scarred up body is oh, so pitiful that you feel sorry for yourself, because there is someone, somewhere, who has had worse hurts than you, and have persevered.
But what about the scars that can't be seen? But you know that they are there.
What about the scars on your feelings? A loved one, or someone you held dear, said something hurtful or spiteful to you. You know what they said wasn't true, but it still hurt. And, though you can forgive them, sometimes it's hard to forget.
The old saying isn't necessarily true: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
I've broken my left arm twice, and it has healed both times. You hit me with a stick and chances are good that I will recover. But when you speak to me and your words and voice are filled with hatred and malice, I'll remember that for a long, long time. And, so would you.
So, as you say something you know is unkind to or about somebody, but when you say it, you are smiling. You say, “Oh, they know I didn't mean it”, or “They know I was only joking”. Does that lessen the pain? Does that stop the hurt?
The saying is true: Many a truth is spoken in jest.
Why were you even thinking along those lines, if you didn't mean what you said?
So we are adults, we can handle life: "Let troubles come my way. I'm tough, I can handle it."
At work you take all the flack from those you work with, and you go home and yell at the kids and yell at your wife, and kick the dog, and throw things around, and generally take out your rage at home.
But, don't you think that as much as it may hurt you to be ridiculed or criticized at work, it must have hurt your children and wife so much more? To have your parent yell and scream, perhaps even hit, you for no other reason than that you were there, how would your child feel?
What about that type of scar? Who's going to heal the hurt on the defenseless children? Or are they going to grow up tough? So much scar tissue on their hearts that they can't be touched.
Children are impressionable, you know. If what they see at home is different than what they see at church, which way do you think they will go? How many hours a week are they at home? How many at church?
Children are so defenseless. They can be hurt so easily by unsuspecting adults that we can't realize how much harm is really done.
You say, I would never hurt my children, yet you let them sit in front of the TV or computer for hours at a time. Yet, can they tell the basic Bible stories? About the Tower of Babel, the pillow of stone, the ladder into Heaven, the prophet that was thrown into a pit and pulled out by friends, bags with holes in them. These are just a few. Do your children know about these? Who is the one that said what about a thread or a shoelatchet?
The chances are good, tho', that they know the cartoon characters on most of the TV shows. They know what player plays what position in most major sports. They can handle computer games better than most people three or four times their age.
All of this is making scars on the kids’ minds. It may, or may not, be noticeable on the physical, but you can tell it on the mental side.
Scars - who's going to help these children? It's impossible for a Sunday School teacher, who may have these children for maybe four hours a month, to counter act the influence of 4 to 6 hours of TV or computer per day.
Parents, who is going to heal the scars of your children? Who's going to tell them that sin is bad, and that God doesn't want us to sin? Who's going to erase the damage done by a sin-sick world?
You say that God can heal them, God can take care of them. But, listen what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 10:14: "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"
If you don't tell them at home, who will?
Child abuse, child pornography, child molesters: how can we protect our children? How can we shield them from the sin of the world? By bringing the world into our home? NO. Emphatically, no.
We can shield them by bringing them to church. We can shield them by teaching them at home during the week, stories from the Bible. By setting an example in your own daily living what Christianity is all about.
I've been talking about scars. Scars are healed wounds. Isaiah 53:5 says, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed."
You say that those wounds have healed long ago. You say Jesus lived twenty centuries ago, and the wounds were healed before His ascension. What about Hebrews 6:6 where it says that they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame?
Don't let His scars be lost on you. Don't let your scars become calluses where you lose your feelings and sensitivities. Your scars can be reminders of healed hurts, or reminders of past hurts that you can't, or won't, let go. You must let the Healer of healers touch you, so you can be healed
Edwin Colegrove pastored in Sault Ste. Marie in the early ‘70s. He and his wife Mary currently reside in Muskegon, Michigan. They have three married daughters and four grandchildren.
This message is adapted from a sermon he preached in Shelby, Michigan in 1985.