I love stories. Good, bad, ugly, I love to hear people’s stories. It’s what makes us all unique – we ALL have a story. My story consists of a lot of ups, rather than downs. I really have a huge sense of God’s grace in my life as I look back on my story, but the older I’ve gotten, my story has been laced with a great deal of hurt, betrayal and loneliness. I’ve shared it many times here, that while some have experienced hurt at the hands of drugs, alcohol, poor choices in relationships, my hurt has been at the hands of church people. It doesn’t even feel right typing that because I don’t want it to sound like I live a life of ministering to church people and I can’t stand them. It’s quite the opposite, it’s because I love them so deeply that the hurt at their hands has hurt me so profoundly, but it still motivates me to never stop loving. It’s become part of my vocabulary to repeat the words, “Hurt people, hurt people.” It gets me through…it helps me understand. The very hurt that cut through me caused me to hurt so many as my own scars healed. The effects have caused me to keep many at an arm’s lengths distance, to be more guarded, to think twice before I accept an invitation to “hang out”. Quite frankly, it made me cynical, and quite frankly, that’s never been my MO. I don’t like it, but I’m thankful for it. Oxymoron? My story, though laced with pain, has helped me see that one that often gets overlooked…the one that hurts so deeply, the one that feels there’s no way out. You see, it’s very hard to minister to hurt people when you never understand their hurt. It’s very hard to minister to hurt people if you’ve never forgiven those that have hurt you. No forgiveness only makes every attempt to minister shallow and meaningless.
Our new series, “SCARS” began yesterday by making it clear that we ALL have a story. Whether it be abandonment, abuse, scandal, unforgiveness…we all have a story. From the apostle Paul to you and me, our stories can either motivate our futures or leave us stuck in a place of hiding, denial and hopelessness. Jeff shared with us his story (Go to the WATCH & LISTEN tab). Overwhelmingly, we heard this…
“It is not my wounds that stop me. It is when I don’t allow JESUS to bring healing.”
And then, what encouragement and motivation we have from the words of Paul….
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward-to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:12-14 MSG)
Virtually every week I hear someone say, “I don’t think God can use someone with a story like mine,” or “I don’t have a good enough story.” Listen, my friend, you have a story. There is someone that needs to hear it. It’s very hard for me to hear someone say, “I know what you’re going through” when they , in fact, don’t have a clue. You want…and need…to hear from those that really can tell you they have been through it, and show them how God brought you through it. Your scars each tell a story. I have physical scars that remind me everyday of a Doctor’s mistake during a surgery. Because of his carelessness and being overtired, I went from a minor gall bladder procedure to a four and a half hour procedure during which no one told my husband a thing that was going on. A very long hospital stay, wound infections, and side effects to this day all remind me of a very horrible time in my life. Those scars, for quite a while, reminded me of “God, why me?” But, let me tell you what those scars began to signify for me. They symbolized opportunity. My doctor, an unbeliever, got to see an amazing God bring me through. We had every reason to sue this doctor (the Bible says we’re not to sue other believers), but we chose to forgo quick money in order that my doctor, and his staff, know Christ. We had just begun serving in a new church and as bad as this circumstance was, it served as an opportunity for them to love me through this, and for me to love them in return. If I could share anything with you, see your scars as opportunity. Don’t allow your story to remain silent. Tell it confidently and boldly. Lives will be changed. Christ will be shown. Scars with untold stories just remain ugly. Scars with stories shared hold promise and potential. Which scars will you choose to have?