The most recent of these wind storms occurred about a week ago, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of the tin on two my neighbor’s barns. The crumpled up sheets of tin are still lying where the winds deposited them after having ripped them off his barns. Once the insurance adjusters finish their work, the roofs will most certainly be replaced.
What caught my attention was that they too had obviously suffered similar roof damage in some previous wind storm. The tell-tale signs of this were evident in the fact that the leading edges of tin on the southwestern side of both barns had clearly been replaced at some point in the past. I could see this because the replacement sheets of tin on the edge were far less rusted than the interior sheets.
I wanted to race back down the road and shout to the two barns so recently ravaged by storms that they were not alone. Others had been through the same thing. Sure, they were scarred from that day forward; but the important thing is that they had survived!
And these two barns, though right now so heavily damaged, would surely survive this experience as well. Would they bear the scars of their ordeal? Yes, but those scars would only serve to give them character. Equally as important, their newfound scars would one day serve as testimony to their personal resilience.
Does this have application to you and me? For my part, I believe it does.
Elbert Hubbard was an American philosopher who was fondly quoted by previous generations of Americans. Among his witticisms were the following gems:
“Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing; and you'll never be criticized.”
“Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.”
“Graveyards everywhere are full of indispensable men.”
But my all-time favorite Hubbard quote is one having less to do with life in this world and more to do with life in the next. He once wrote: “God will not look you over for medals, diplomas, or degrees – but for scars.”
It was this very phrase that came to mind as I made my way back home following my morning’s epiphany. It has remained on my mind for much of this past week.
God has blessed me with many a diploma and degree, and even a medal or two. For these things, I have always been thankful. But the older I get, the more I am coming to understand and even to appreciate the other set of blessings He gave to me: my scars!
No Pastor can get through 40 plus years of ministry without acquiring a full set of scars. I am no different. But it is only as I have retired from full-time ministry that I have come to value those scars. Every one of them bespeaks some battle, whether personal or public, that I undertook in a genuine attempt to stand strong against adversity. And for this reason, each and every one of those scars now has great value.
Perhaps this is precisely what our Lord had in mind when He made such statements as this (in Matthew 5:11-12): “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”
I will admit that, in times past, I failed to fully appreciate these words. But now I see things differently. Before, I might have even sought to gloss over or even cover scars I received in such struggles. But these days, I choose to display them a little more prominently. And while I might stop short of saying that I am proud of them, I am certainly not ashamed of them. They testify to my struggle for my Lord, His will, and His Kingdom. And even if no one else recognizes this, He certainly does!