“Then he (Jesus) said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:27-29
Today is my birthday – birthday number two since Becky died. Last night I couldn’t sleep and I ended up sitting up and re-reading the Gleanings from the beginning. At so many places I was overcome with tears yet again, transported back in time to the deepest pain I’ve known and know. But with this I was also keenly aware of God’s healing and grace poured over and into this circumstance. So much healing has happened in my life and in the lives of those I love … it is hard to comprehend. Healing isn’t finished by any means and there are fresh grieves to consider as life goes on without Becky. But healing has happened and is happening.
Steve’s gift to me this year is one that I will treasure all of the days of my life. I was gifted with a Bible when we first came to Suburban that I’ve carried ever since. It has seen times of neglect and times of nearly constant use. It carries a record of God’s nudges and rebukes and comfort spoken specifically to me. The Bible got to the place where the cover was broken away from the spine and the pages were beginning to fall away. I mentioned this to my ever practical husband and commented that it would be cool to get the Bible rebound. He wasn’t too keen on the idea because the cost of rebinding could pay for two or more Bibles. I’m practical too and could see his point, so I just decided to keep using the Bible until it completely fell apart. A month or so later Steve started hinting around that he had the perfect gift idea for me. I was puzzled because there just isn’t much of anything I want or need. What I always most want is time with those I cherish – my ‘love language’ is Quality Time. Then in early September he told me he wanted to rebind my Bible! I was ecstatic and didn’t once even contemplate a ‘no’ to this extravagant gift.
We took the Bible to the local bindery … a magical and compelling place … and I worked with the craftswoman who would complete the task of rebinding my Bible. I chose a color and grain of leather, I chose 3 ribbons to be added, I chose a font for my name and the words Holy Bible to be engraved on the fine leather. Then I left the Bible in her hands and waited.
A few days later I got a call from her. She was a bit dismayed because after cutting the leather to the appropriate size she realized that there was a ‘scar’ in the leather on the back of the Bible. She wanted to know if it was okay to leave the scar or if she should order more leather and hold onto the Bible for a couple of weeks. I decided it would be best to go in and take a look before making a decision so I stopped by later that day to see this scar. It was clear that the animal whose hide was wrapped around my Bible had somehow run into barbed wire or some sharp thing that had torn its hide. The flaw had healed leaving evidence of the injury, but not in such a way as to compromise the protective nature of the hide.
I told her that I’d like to keep the scar. Something about it just spoke to me of life … of my life. I’ve been bruised and injured so many times. Sometimes the injury has been because of my own hardheaded choice to sin. Sometimes the injury has been the outrageous sling or arrow of misfortune. As those places heal often a scar remains to remind me of both what happened and of the healing power of God’s mercy in my life. Losing Becky has scarred me until I enter eternity, but the presence of a scar is a testimony to healing.
I think that is why when Jesus rose and for a season walked among men in his glorified body he carried scars. God could have given Jesus a completely restored and beautiful body. It isn’t as if He was incapable of removing those scars. But the scars in Jesus hands and side give testimony to love so great that nothing could keep Him from completing death on a cross to purchase our salvation. Jesus is healed and whole and scarred. And those scars caused that great skeptic Thomas to exclaim “My Lord and My God!”
May my scars testify to the healing love of God over my life.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-18