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  • Pastor Tom Cunningham

SCAR TISSUE

Updated: Sep 18



Scripture Texts: Romans 8:7-9; Luke 4:18; Proverbs 29:11; Psalms 46:1-11


We all have scars—and every scar tells a story. Scars are stark reminders of something that’s happened in our lives—often something not very pleasant—rather painful or traumatic.


My Story...

I have a scar on my left arm below the bicep above the chelidon. It's two inches long laterally and required 17-stitches. I was attacked and bitten in my own front yard by a German Shepherd named Smokey when I was 5-years old. It was late fall and chilly so I was wearing my little winter coat. Smokey belonged to a neighbor and had wandered across the road into our yard. My brothers and I were playing near our swing set when Smokey stood in our midst. He was standing his ground in a way we didn't understand. I started yelling at Smokey to go home; to get away. He was ignoring me completely—so in one impetuous fluid motion (I promise I've learned from), I reached to the ground, scooped up some playground stones and started throwing them at Smokey—yelling at him to "get". He stood his ground some more. For some reason I could never explain, in some brazen move borne out of ignorance or naiveté, I just walked over to our swing set—passing right beside him, trespassing his marked territory—to reclaim "my swing set". I had no sooner ventured to mount a swing when Smokey attacked me with a snarl—knocked me off the swing flat on my back—growling and irritated, he was on top of me—mauling me—easily ripping through my winter coat with his bared teeth into my left arm. I was kicking furiously into his stomach, but having no affect. I don't remember any pain, but I remember distinctly the blood filling the hole now in my down-filled coat—his snarling and tearing coming from deep inside his throat—hearing from somewhere my own screams. And then, in a flash and a blur of brown and white, he was off me and I saw our Collie, Whiskey and Smokey rolling down the hill in a fog of growling, snarling and yelping as they fought fiercely until Smokey squealed one last time and ran away. Vivid. I can still see the scar as vividly as the memory I just recounted—53 years later. That's the power of a scar. And every scar tells a story.


In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, you can read a litany of trauma and visualize the Apostle Paul pointing to his scars, both physical and emotional, as he’s recounting the stories as almost a chronicle of the trials he's endured.

"Five times the Jewish leaders had me beaten with 39 lashes; three times Roman officials had me beaten with clubs. Once people tried to stone me to death; three times I was shipwrecked, and I drifted on the sea for a night and a day. Because I've traveled a lot, I've faced dangers from raging rivers, from robbers, from my own people, and from other people. I've faced dangers in the city, in the open country, on the sea, and from believers who turned out to be false friends. Because I've had to work so hard, I've often gone without sleep, been hungry and thirsty, and gone without food and without proper clothes during cold weather. Besides these external matters, I have the daily pressure of my anxiety about all the churches." {2 Corinthians 11:24-28}

We all have physical scars on our bodies; battle scars, surgical scars, scars from accidents and emotional scars. Physical scars are visible and often obvious, but emotional scars and the wounds that produce them are not as easy to detect, yet every bit as real…


PHYSICAL SCAR TISSUE:

Scar tissue is the body's response to the need to protect the wounded area. A scar is a virtual certainty following a wound of any sort, at least to some degree. That's because a scar is the natural outcome of the body's normal healing process as it works to repair the skin or another of its organs. Growing skin is a slow, delicate process. So, rather than slowly build or repair skin the usual way in the aftermath of an injury, scars are the work of the body's quick response team. It's actually quite a reasonable response when you consider that an open wound leaves the body susceptible such things as pain, re-injury and infection.


Even though skin tissue that makes up a scar is of the same element as normal skin—a protein called collagen—it looks and feels different. Collagen has a cross-weave structure in normal tissue, whereas in scar tissue it is aligned parallel to the plane of the skin. In other words, scars use the same substance, but don't have the luxury of the time it takes to create a perfect skin weave—so a rapid build is fabricated in a hurry to protect the vulnerable opening in the skin.


Scar tissue has 2 purposes:

  1. Scar tissue is the body’s quick response to closing an open wound that can leave the body susceptible to infection, pain to re-injury.

  2. Scar tissue, as well as being a visible reminder of trauma and injury—is also a story. Every scar comes with a story and there isn’t one of us who hasn’t heard someone recount the epic story behind one scar or another.

My Story...

Some years ago, I twisted my ankle badly playing basketball in Botswana. When we arrived back home in Zambia, the pain and swelling was unbearable. When I finally arrived at the hospital in an attempt to have an X-ray taken, I was lucky in that the doctor in house was an American from a Missionary team and when she came into the room with my X-rays, she slapped them down on the table and said, “Hasn’t anyone told you to stop playing basketball? Your ankle is plastered with scar tissue”

What she had in front of me was my ankle X-rays which told the complete story of every time I had ever injured that same ankle. There were scars on the bone from healed cracks, chips of bone that had broken off with torn ligaments and reattached clumsily with calcium spurs.

I had injured myself many times and had never gone to the doctor and the X-ray picture was telling a much more troublesome story than I had ever imagined. “How could this be going on in my body without me being aware of it?” Sometimes I was really in pain, but the thought of serious injury resulting in scar tissue had never entered my mind.

"For I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." {Galatians 6:17}

One translation says…

"…After all, I carry the scars of Jesus on my body." {Galatians 6:17}

In these scriptures, the Apostle Paul is talking about the physical marks of suffering and persecution which identified him with his Lord. As—no doubt—you also carry marks from the battles of life. And if you have been saved for any length of time, it’s certain that you will also carry some marks from that journey as well.

An English King once called his Knights together after every battle for his personal inspection. When the Knights were assembled before him, the King commanded, “Show me your scars.” The Knights hastened to obey their King. One by one, each Knight would remove his armor and stand before the King, revealing their battle scars. In each gathering, there would usually be one or two Knights unscarred by battle. For these persons who were not scarred in battle, the King had a further command: “Go get your scars!”

The scars earned in battle were the only credentials that mattered. Only those Knights who bore the marks of their service and dedication were considered worthy to receive the rewards and honors the King might choose to bestow upon them.

So then, disciples, I ask you—where are your scars?


EMOTIONAL SCARS:

As human beings, we're emotional creatures. Our emotions influence the decisions we make, the career path we take, the films, art and music we enjoy. Emotions help us choose our friends, those whom we fall in love with, those we stay with for our entire lives and also those whom we leave behind.

Yes, emotions have power. But, we are not meant to be creatures that are to be ruled by emotion, we are created to be ruled by the will of God. We are not to be ruled by emotions but fueled by emotions. God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate to you. Emotions are to inform you, not lead you.

"This is so because the corrupt nature [of the flesh—out of control and toxic emotional responses] has a hostile attitude toward God. It refuses to place itself under the authority of God's standards because it can't. Those who are under the control of the corrupt nature can't please God. But if God's Spirit lives in you, you are under the control of your spiritual nature, not your corrupt nature. We are created to be creatures of will, fueled by emotion, not creatures ruled by emotions overcoming our will…" {Romans 8:7-9 GW}
"A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them." {Proverbs 29:11}

Again, we are not ruled by emotions but fueled by emotions.

Falling in love is one thing, breaking up is quite another. When you fall in love, high levels of dopamine, oxytocin and a related hormone; norepinephrine, are released during the attraction and 'falling' phase. These chemicals make us giddy, energetic, and euphoric, even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia—which means you can actually be so “in love” that you can't eat or sleep.

Then there’s the breakup. The brain's response to emotional hurt and heartbreak is brutal: Studies on heartbroken people have revealed that heartbreak activates similar mechanisms in the brain to those activated when we experience physical pain. In some studies, the emotional pain people experienced was rated as equivalent to "nearly unbearable" pain. As a result of the heightened brain activity, your body is prompted to release stress hormones, including cortisol and Adrenalin. Your blood pressure rises, muscles tighten, chest closes in… Your brain is craving those feel-good emotions of crazy love and A BROKEN HEART is like withdrawal to your body.

That is why Jesus appears on the scene in the earliest part of His ministry with a message of healing for the brokenhearted.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; {Luke 4:18}

Every epic love that created every broken heart has a scar and a story—and that informs the rest of your life.


THE SAFE PLACE FOR YOUR SOUL


"The LORD guards you from every evil. He guards your life." {Psalms 121:7}

In Christ, in the church and in the Word of God is a safe place for your soul.

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." {Psalm 32:7 NIV}

I want you to know that there is a God who doesn’t just deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, there is a God who can deliver you out of whatever bondage, struggles and scars you have as well.

I’ve seen too many people experience the deliverance of God but then not back it up with the necessary daily disciplines. You have to back up the deliverance with a decision on a daily basis to exercise that self-control.

Scars are permanent only as a reminder. And with that epic story of how that scar came to be, there is also a reminder that the wound that created that scar is closed. And that needs to be an encouragement to those who continue to deeply struggle with old wounds that have created the emotional baggage that comes with the scar. That is where it should end—with the wound closed. Remember that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. He came to restore the area that was wounded and close that wound forever. We need to allow him to do that today. Right now.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. That is why we are not afraid even when the earth quakes or the mountains topple into the depths of the sea. Water roars and foams, and mountains shake at the surging waves. There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High lives. God is in that city. It cannot fall. God will help it at the break of dawn. Nations are in turmoil, and kingdoms topple. The earth melts at the sound of God's voice. The LORD of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, see the works of the LORD, the devastation he has brought to the earth. He puts an end to wars all over the earth. He breaks an archer's bow. He cuts spears in two. He burns chariots. Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth. The LORD of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah" (means 'forever') {Psalms 46:1-11}
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