“From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me, for I am wearing on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.”
Galatians 6:17 NLT
I was really sporty as a child and as a teenager. I still love sports but my psychical state doesn’t always necessarily allow me to enjoy them the way I used to. But I did everything, football was my favourite. I played rugby, cricket, netball, basketball, hockey and athletics. I actually won county high jump competitions! I was aided in a lot of these sports because I could run very, Very fast. I actually still hold the record in Hastings for the fastest under 12 80 metre sprint. (12.8 seconds) I was quick. So although athletics wasn’t my favourite, I was a compulsive winner and it was a sure fire way to add to my medal collection and relay was my absolute favourite.
It was summer 2008 and myself and some of my school friends were competing in the year 8 county athletics tournament. We had performed okay but we knew that relay was what was going to win the day for us. It’s where all the glory was, and I was the FOURTH runner. For those of you who don’t understand the magnitude of what that means, it means I was bringing home the medal. I would run last and win the race and the glory would be mine. I mean the teams'. The gun sounded and we got off to a slow start, but the second runner picked it up and fired us back into the race. The third runner carries on and as she is about to pass the baton to me, she is neck and neck for first place with the girl in the lane next to her. And it dawned on me, for the first time ever, at the end of a relay run, I was in a race. In every other relay race I had ever done the three runners before have carried me, and all I had to do was bring it home, but not this time. I had to run, and win the race in my own right.
So I looked my teammate in the eye, grabbed the baton and ran the fastest I have ever run in my life. I’ve been 6ft since I was 11 and I used my stride to my advantage. The first 50 meters got some distance between me and the girl I was racing and the final 50 was about finishing strong. So I kept going, not looking to my left or right. And I could see the finish line, 4 steps from crossing I gave a little shout of celebration from knowing I had won the race for our team, the crowd were cheering and I could hear some of my friends shouting my name, it was incredible. Until with two steps to go, I tripped. Hard. But at the speed I was running i still finished first, I still crossed the finished line but I was just tumbling like no one had ever seen and my good Lord it hurt. I ended up with all the skin completely scraped off my entire left knee, two inches above and below it, a grazed shoulder, a sprained wrist and bump on the head for my troubles. To this day, I still have the scars from that painful, painful victory.
That’s a great story; to tell you the truth I’ve dramatised it. My little sister Precious was there and she will tell you that my fall was actually hilarious. Whatever it looked like, it was embarrassing and painful! And sometimes that is a picture of this life that we are trying so desperately to navigate. This story is so true to life because I’m sure more than a few of you have had this feeling. You feel like you’re giving everything you have to get through the season you’re in, you’re pushing as hard as you can. And just when you think you’re making progress, out of nowhere you trip on thin air. Just as you lift your head and see the finish line, something takes your legs out and you end up on the floor, in pain and embarrassed.
I think the thing I hated the most about the whole situation was the fact that I was left with horrible scars. Particularly on my knee, it was gross, it ruined outfits and made me incredibly insecure. The pain in my left knee still hasn’t fully gone away. But the scars were the worst. I would do everything to cover them. I couldn’t bare the idea that people could see it, then I would have to tell them my story and they would know what happened to me and they would laugh. I wore tights all year round and even tried putting my mums make up on them. As I have got older the scars have faded and only I know that they’re there, you won’t know what happened to me unless I point it out to you, but those scars are still completely there.
But the truth is, my scars show something. They mean something, they have a story, and ugly as they are my scars mean so much. This actually makes them beautiful. I think you can sense where I am going with this because not all scars are physical. They can be emotional, you can feel like you have a scar on your soul from an injury that wasn’t your fault or that was your fault! You were doing everything you were supposed to do and you were tripped up by thin air. Someone hurt you physically or emotionally, someone left you. Someone promised they would be there and they weren’t. Someone said things about you that weren’t true. You trusted someone and they are now everything that you feared they would be. You let someone into your heart and they weren’t gentle. I could go on forever listing things that could have left you with scars. And I know some of you reading this right now have spent years trying to cover up your scars so no one; anywhere will know what happened to you. You’re exhausted. Its ok, I know.
One thing I now know about my scars is that they’re actually marks of a victory. If you read back I still won that race. I still ran, I still finished, I kept going and to tell you the truth I would have crawled over that finish line if I had to. Now, when I look at my scars, I focus on the victory that they represent. Did they hurt? Yes. Were they ugly? Yes. But I won that race. And something that blew my mind? The reasons you have scars to show is because you survived. The thing that hurt you didn’t take you out. You’re alive, and breathing to tell the story. And if you ask me, that makes your scars absolutely stunning. It means you won, you beat the thing that hurt you. And you’re alive to talk about it. Incredible.
Our scripture today was written by a man called Paul and he had some scars. Some soul scars at that. He used to kill Christians! But to add to that he was shipwrecked and bitten by a snake and stoned among other things. He had some physical scars too. And this is what he had to say about them. “From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me, for I am wearing on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.” Galatians 6:17. Paul was fully aware that his scars meant something. They were badges that marked his victory to him. His scars showed that he followed Jesus and He could not be prouder of them. He recognised how beautiful they were and you should too.
Jesus has some scars, on his hands and feet where the nails that pinned him to a tree he created were. Where he hung, bled and died. When he was mocked, beaten and ridiculed. Where he hung up there for all to see in what looked like the biggest failure in human history. But it was actually there single handed redemption of every soul that would ever and had ever lived. That sounds like victory to me. His scars show that he conquered death, and most importantly, his scars represent an unrelenting, unfathomable, unmatched love for you, the one He calls his own. So, wear your scars proudly, you survived. Tell your story loudly, and use what you learned to help others whose wounds have not healed yet.
We love you.