I recently had a conversation with a friend in the ministry, and when I asked him how things were going, he brought up the phrase “many stripes.”
This of course is a reference to Christ, by whose stripes (suffering) we are healed (cleansed of our sins). But he was also referring to the scars of ministry. We talked for a while about how our foolish (not sinful) decisions lead to painful scars.
Last Monday I returned in Barrouallie after teaching an Eschatology class at a local bible college. The combination of the teaching and driving (an hour up, and an hour back) had left me pretty tired. I opened the back door of my car, and then without thinking, bent down to pick up my bag. This resulted my forehead hitting the car, and giving me a small cut.
The foolish decisions of life often lead to scars, and pain (in my case physical). This is especially true for those in ministry.
The important thing isn’t to try to escape scars because they will definitely come…….
It is to learn from those scars.
The thing about scars is they hurt! Nobody enjoys failing or experiencing consequences of a foolish action. But we must allow God to use those painful experiences to make us more like Christ.
There are two major responses to painful experiences:
- We can learn from our scars, and commit ourselves not to making the same mistake again
- Or we can retreat to a place of safety, so that we never experience another scar
When our foolish mistake leaves a scar, Satan loves to come in our moment of weakness. He will say “you see! This is what will happen EVERY TIME you try to serve God! It would be better to stay where its safe, and not take any risks.
Of course this is a lie
- Failure is not a constant part of our lives
- And there is no such thing as a safe place, where we won’t experience pain
It’s far better to understand scars are Gods way of highlighting weaknesses in our lives. He does this in love, so that we can turn to Him for restoration.
The scars then are a picture not of our failure, but Gods Redemption