When we were kids, with little else to do, we’d compare scars. “Bike wreck. Hunting knife. BB gun. Stabbed with a pencil. Caught in a fence. Touched a pan on the stove.”
Each wound left its mark. And each mark left a story. Most of them the result of some reckless behavior.
Typically, after most of the kids had finished showing all their scars, I could keep going. Apparently, I was a bit more reckless than most.
Like the afternoon I was in the backyard throwing knives at a tree, I happened to look down at my bare feet. There was a gap between my big toe and the next toe. I thought, I bet I can stick my knife in that gap. I let it loose and missed the gap by only one inch. Unfortunately, the one inch placed the knife point in my foot. It left a scar.
When I was fingerprinted for my concealed carry license, my fingertips were sliced and diced by marks left there from carelessness with the sharp end of knives. Or mishaps with box cutters. Or slips from a chisel. Or getting caught in a power tool. Even now as an adult, I always keep a box of Band-Aids close by, just in case.
Many things have caused scars and each scar has its own story.
I’m reminded of a car wreck in high school each time I look at my brow. That scar is there because of a culvert, no seat belts, a windshield and alcohol. But that wreck and the scar that remains, God used to change my life.
Since most scars result from careless, even reckless behavior, this one was the climax of a young life discounting God’s importance. I was a teenager heading away from Him, along with other kids doing the same thing. But, I knew better and God had other plans in mind.
That wreck was God’s opportunity for me to change. As damaging as it was, it had grace written all over it because God was rescuing me. He got my attention and turned my life toward Him. And left me with a scar to remember how much He loved me and what He was willing to do to preserve my life.
As a young girl grew into a teenager, she suddenly became ashamed of the scars on her mother’s arms and hands. They had been savagely burned and left horribly disfigured. One day the daughter told her mother to wear long sleeves and gloves, her scars were embarrassing her. Her grandmother heard the daughter and pulled her aside. She described a day when a fire ravaged the house they were living in. Her mom wasn’t home but came up after the house was engulfed in flames. “You were still inside,” the Grandmother said. “Your mom ran into the flames and soon came out shielding you in a blanket held tightly by her arms and hands. Those scars show how much she loved you and what she was willing to do to preserve your life. To her there is no shame in the scars, only the reminder, your life was worth her sacrifice.” The daughter ran to her mom and kissed the scared hands that saved her life.
When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, not My will but Yours be done, His death was only hours away. How could He handle that?
Though He knew the pain to come, the suffering and the scars to follow, He accepted the cross because of what it would do to prove how much God loves us and what He was willing to do to preserve our lives. Heb 12:2 who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, Jesus looked past what that day would do to Him and looked at what it would do for us. And, now, when He looks at the scars, He doesn’t look at them with regret, but with joy that He was able to endure what would bring us life.
After the resurrection, all the disciples were present except Thomas. John 20:24-29 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Seeing the scars tells the story. Not just of the brutality of the day, but of the power of love. When we die and meet Jesus, we’ll see the scars, we’ll understand the cost, we’ll fall on our knees and kiss the feet that the nails held to the cross. Why? Because those scars will remind us of how much He loves us and what He was willing to do to preserve our lives.
Heb 9:22 And according to the Law, almost all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. His scars are the evidence of the blood He willingly shed on our behalf – each scar a badge of courage.
I remember reading The Red Badge of Courage as a kid. The story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he wants to go back to his regiment but wishes for a wound wrapped with a white gauze, stained red by blood – a "red badge of courage." He thought it would counteract his cowardice in having run from the fight. Before he can return to his unit, he gets accidently busted in the head with a rifle butt by another soldier and gets his badge. Because of his wound, his regiment welcomes him back, no questions asked. He is fueled with new courage and carries the regimental flag into battle. The blood-saturated bandage proved what his heart had failed to say, that he was, after all, a courageous young man, willing to bleed for the cause.
Many others have sacrificed their own blood for the cause. One of the badges of courage presented to men and women in the military is the Purple Heart. It is the evidence of scars resulting from wounds in which they shed blood fighting the war of freedom. Most get it having survived their wounds. Some have it given to their families after they have given the last full measure of devotion to their country.
That symbol demonstrates the cost many have been willing to pay on behalf of a grateful nation. And for those given another chance at life, though they don’t typically wear the Purple Heart pin, those men and women bear the scars, reminders of their love for their country and the moment they were willing to die to preserve it.
That’s always been the heart of patriots.
The word patriot signifies a person who loves his or her country and is ready to boldly support and defend it at all costs. That was the original meaning when the word came into the English language in the 1500s, but it hasn’t gone unchallenged.
In those early days, Patriots were those who shared a love of country but often that love was defined by a common allegiance with others according to beliefs and ideologies. Patriots were identified by their loyalty to whoever held the power of public opinion. Those who disagreed were disloyal.
During The American Revolutionary War the colonists were called patriots because of their rebellion against the King. Americans liked the word. To them, patriots were those who took action against British control.
After winning our independence, and since then, the word patriot has been elevated to the title of brave men and women who have or are physically defending the rights and freedoms of our country, as well as anyone with a high degree of love, devotion and allegiance to their country. That would make most all of us patriots.
Unfortunately, many today are trying to make the word negative again by redefining patriotism as some kind of superior attitude over other nations. They call it nationalism which has become a slanderous assault against loving your country first, which, they say, is an insult to modern, world culture. They say America isn’t better than any other nation and should give up her rights to be a dominant force for good over the rest of the world. By attacking the foundation of what makes us America, they have also attacked what makes her good.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman researching American greatness said: “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
The goodness of America reflects our connection to God who said: blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. We are not self-made. We are shaped by belief in the goodness of God and the conviction of being accountable to live according to that goodness.
The vast majority of countries in the world cry out for the goodness of America. They want America’s generosity, compassion, resources, wisdom and help. And we have done what we could.
But the fight today is the clash between what kind of country America has been and what kind of country it will become. Will it follow the chain of principles that connect it to its founding principles or toss them aside and recreate an America far removed from that which made her great?
We’ve seen how a man in the White House can lead the country according to ideals rather than according to principle. We’ve also seen how a man in the White House can restore America back to those principles.
The difference between ideals and principles is usually the money those who provide the ideal will get out of it. Never think the battle over climate change is about the earth. Never think Covid-19 is only a health issue. Bill Gates has invested heavily in vaccines. He stands to make nearly $200 billion by the use of vaccines for diseases including the Coronavirus.
Tocqueville: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.”
What does a bribe do? Prov 17:23 A bribe perverts the ways of justice.
Everyone has a price at which they will sell out. We must make sure that price is higher than the bribe to give up our rights. No patriot died to have rights taken away but for them to be upheld.
Theodore Roosevelt: Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him… [when] he fails in his duty to stand by the country.
Samuel Adams: If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.
I believe those times have come. What this virus has exposed about men and women in leadership has shown how corrupt those in government can become with unchallenged authority. But how do we fight it?
In 1645, an army of rural Puritans led by Oliver Cromwell faced the finest swordsmen and cavalry in all of England. Prior to the battle, Cromwell said, “Boys, keep your powder dry and your prayer book handy. Our battle is in the Lord’s hands, and He alone gives the victory.” As one man, the Puritans fell to their knees and began to cry out for supernatural strength.
Cromwell and his men won the battle and much more. This conflict was about the government of England. It was King against the people. Cromwell’s army represented the people. Their win reverberated in a cry to change the government from a King’s rule to a Parliament as it is today. Even though the odds were against Cromwell’s army winning the battle and changing his nation, God intervened. But more than just help these men win a battle for England, He set in motion the very ingredients of government our country would be founded upon a century later.
That’s how the battle is fought: The greatest powers cannot overcome the humblest prayers. This is the battleground for Christian Patriots. It’s where we enter the war zone.
Zech 4:6 This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts.
Most Christian Patriots, will never face physical conflict on behalf of our nation. But since every physical conflict is at heart a spiritual conflict, we must face the spiritual conflict in prayer. As true as any bullet that hits its target, the prayer of righteous men and women will always hit their targets.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
What we cannot change, weak as we are and unimportant to the grinding of the massive machine of government, God can, taking the cry of our hearts and accomplishing much.
King Solomon prayed over the dedication of the Temple: 1Kings 8:37-40 If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house; then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men, that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.
God responded: 2Ch 7:14 If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The cry for healing is the cry for deliverance. Something has gripped our lives, our hearts, our nation and won’t let go. We feel incapable of doing anything about it, so we pray: “God, this is bigger than we are, but not bigger than You are. God, this is stronger than we are, but not stronger than You are. God, this is more powerful than we are, but not more powerful than You are. We need Your help. Heal our land, O God.”
Remember the word heal includes make whole, save, deliver. Peter said Jesus’ scars prove God’s ability to do all of that. 1Pet 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Isa 53:4-5 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
Healed from what? Our grief, our sorrow, our sins, our un-well-being.
By His scars, His stripes – His badges of courage – we are made whole, saved, healed, delivered. He is the source. Whatever the need for deliverance, from whatever has gripped our nation or our lives and won’t let go, Jesus can break its hold on us.
How do we connect what He can do with what we need done?
- Whenever our body is unable to fight what has invaded it, be that a virus, a cancer, a heart break, an upheaval, we can pray for deliverance.
- Whenever we are attacked by our own government whose ideology has changed dramatically from the original intent, we can pray for deliverance.
- Whenever those who defy our nation being one nation under God prevail in separating our country from God’s goodness, we can pray for deliverance.
- Whenever those trying to do right by our Constitution and Bill of Rights are threatened and beaten down by those who want America to change into a socialist state, we can pray for deliverance.
Pray that God leads us back to the kind of nation that creates patriots, willing to live or die to make her great again, willing to bear the scars as their badges of courage, willing to stand against evil by the power of God. Pray that God will heal our land, our hearts, our bodies, knowing that’s what He promised He’d do.
- Thank God for the scars in your body that remind you of His willingness to save you from a life of destruction and cause you to seek Him.
- Thank God for Jesus’ scars that paid the price for the sin that separated you from Him and brought you into the Family of God.
- Thank God also for Jesus’ scars that insure us He can heal, make whole, save and deliver us from all evil.
- Thank God for Patriots who have paid for our freedoms with their own blood and who bear the scars of their sacrifice to keep America good.
Ps 91:14 Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation."
See My salvation, My healing, My wholeness, My deliverance.