ecember 29, 1966, was a very cold and frosty morning in Birchwood, Tennessee. We were enjoying the Christmas holidays, and my brother and I wanted to go hunting with Dad. Against Mom’s advice (it was really cold), Dad woke up Randy and me to go rabbit hunting. Who would have known that the events of that day would forever change our lives?
Once Randy and I had thawed out in our warm car, we grabbed our shotguns and began walking back to the field where our beagles—Frank, Jack, and Jill—were catching the scent of a rabbit. It was then that I noticed that the hammer on my .410 shotgun was pulled back and ready to fire. Without hesitation, I did what Dad had taught us to do in order to release it back to safety without firing. However, in the process of that action, my thumb slipped off the hammer and fired. The barrel of the gun happened to be pointed directly at Randy, and the blast killed him instantly.
I was 8 years old and the youngest of three siblings. Randy was only 10. Immediately, I frantically screamed for Dad. I saw him step out from a wooded area and into a sage grass field. Once he caught a glimpse of what had happened, Dad ran to me and took me away from the scene. Albert Wilson, a friend of Dad’s, was hunting with us that day. Dad asked him to cover Randy’s body and wait for the ambulance. We buried Randy on December 31, 1966.
I have never been one to hold to the belief that “time heals all things.” I believe that true healing rests in the hands of God, not in the hands of a clock. My scar is deep, large, heavy, and invisible to the human eye. This message is to anyone who, like me, must walk through life with an invisible scar.
- My scar teaches me that I am imperfect and in desperate need of forgiveness.
The hardest person you will ever have to forgive is yourself! You see, the sixth-grade class at Meadowview Elementary lost a classmate; my sister, Teresa, lost a brother; and my parents lost a son—all because of me. Satan likes to remind me of that from time to time, and he uses something I call “triggers” to do so. Some of my triggers are cold frosty mornings, beagles, sage grass fields, .410 shotguns, and the song “Winchester Cathedral.”
My loving family never needed my apology nor placed any blame on me. They immediately moved in to protection mode and loved me through this tragedy. However, I had to forgive myself.
Guilt and shame are two terrible bur- dens to carry, and they will rob us of joy. Thank God, there is One who is capable of carrying the burdens of our past! In Christ, we can “lay aside every weight” (Heb. 12:1), “casting all [our] care upon Him, for He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV).
- My scar is a sign that I have the ability to be healed.
We have our limits. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.” Yet, where the skill of humanity ends, God is just getting started. When a beloved woman named Tabitha died (see Acts 9:36-41), Peter knew God could pick up where humanity left off. When he prayed the prayer of faith, Tabitha arose! There is nothing that can come your way too difficult for God to heal.
A physical scar is our body’s way of telling us that the wound has been closed and healing has transpired. Whether our wounds are physical or emotional, we have the ability to heal.
- My scar does not have the final say on my future.
Scars cannot dictate to me where I am going; they can only tell me where I have been. Even after all of these years, I still recall that terrible day in 1966. Healing does not equate to a loss of memory. No matter where I go or what I do, there is the scar to remind me of the path that I once traveled.
In many ways, scars are like a diary of our life—a reminder of the accident, miscarriage, or abuse that we once suffered.
None of us can completely escape our past violations, mistakes, setbacks, and tragedies. They are part of our story . . . part of who we are today. What Satan wants to use to destroy us, God will use to work out for our good (Rom. 8:28).
- My scar is a testimony to others.
It is all right to allow others to see our scars, for our scars tell them we have made it through the storm. When Jesus rose from the dead, there was joy among Mary and the disciples; but there was one who needed to see the scars of Jesus for himself. Thomas could not believe Jesus was alive until he saw the scars in the risen Jesus’ hands and side (John 20:24- 29).
Like Thomas, there are people today who need to see the scars. They need to hear your testimony because it is proof that God is real and actively involved in caring for His children. Thank God for those who can believe without seeing, but there are some who won’t believe until they hear your story and see your scars.
You need to redeem your pain, using your experiences to help other people. That’s called ministry. If you will allow Him, God can use your pain for good. In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul said that God “comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (NLT).
Divine healing covers all aspects of hurt. For God not to be able to heal both physical and emotional wounds would disqualify Him from being God. Divine purpose can come from the most difficult times in your life.
Paul wrote, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17 NKJV). There must have been hundreds of scars on Paul’s body, for he was beaten three times with rods, stoned by an angry mob, and suffered three shipwrecks, yet none of these scars detoured his destiny (see 2 Cor. 11:25). His scars only prepared him for the work God had called him to do.
Today, I am happy to testify that I am healed and can use my story as a message of hope to those who are hurting. You, too, can be set free today. Thank God I am free!