Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Scars of My Father

As a small boy, I remember the day I asked my father why he had so many scars across his stomach and chest. At the time he gave me an age-appropriate answer. A few years later, I asked again and then he gave me the full story.

My grandmother owned a business on Turk Street in San Francisco. The area around Turk Street was in a seedy part of the city. It still is today. My father had become a regular at my grandmother’s business because he was dating my mom. He asked my mom to marry him on their first date, so he was seen a serious contender for my mother’s hand. His presence brought a sense of security to my mom and grandmother who were trying to stay safe in a tough part of town.

One night an intruder broke into the business after hours. My father confronted the intruder and a fistfight ensued. My father hit the man with a well-placed punch knocking him to the ground and jumped on top of the man to hold him down until the police could arrive. During the struggle the man pulled a knife and began to slash my father back and forth across his chest and stomach. My father was a carpenter. Within reach was his framing hammer. I am alive today because the hammer was close enough to allow my father to promptly end the attack.

Every life has scars. Most are not visible. Scars remain with you through all the seasons of life. They tell a story of conflict. The scars carried in the body of my father revealed a part of his life that went undetected until he took his shirt off. Each day we walk by people who bear the evidence of scarring encounters carried under the garments of everyday life. Some of those who bear the scars paid a price for their markings because of love.  In my case the scars of my father’s survival allowed someone like me to actually be born. Had my father’s framing hammer not been close my birth might not have taken place.

Another Man carried scars and puncture wounds as the price He paid for our redemption. His hammer was the resurrection. The scars of Jesus made it possible for each of us to experience a spiritual birth. The scars of my father were the evidence of his survival that allowed him to remain alive to give to me the gift of a natural birth. Every birth bears a scar.

When the time is right, ask someone you love about the scars they bear. The story they tell may reveal a struggle where a painful price was paid for the ones they love. The scars they carry tell the story of their survival. In the scar tissue of those painful markings you may even discover your connection to their story. Those scars are never ugly. They carry the beauty of sacrificial love.

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