He was a 23 year old on the island of Okinawa, was my father. When though he was behind some cover from the defending Japanese, he lifted his head to take a look at what was in front of his position and Pow! A bullet creased his scalp and blew his helmet off.
The young man from Georgia had seen a lot of fighting by that day's events, and he was to see some more before the war was done, but that was the only scar he carried... that was visible.
It was very hard to get him to talk about what happened as his 24th Division hopped across the Pacific. As boys, we wanted to know the details. He was not interested in giving them. All we could see was the scar.
I was in a meeting yesterday afternoon with two people from our community. Since I am followed by the tag "Baptist preacher" people seem to react in such situations in a couple of ways, generally.
They will either try to remember how their momma taught them they were supposed to act, in that case I hear a lot of "Reverend" dropped here and there, or they will at some point in the conversation let me know how great their church is or how they have been hurt by churches in the past.
It was the latter yesterday. "You don't want to know," was the response when I asked what happened. And the door/subject was quickly closed.
But here's the thing. I DO want to know. Because in this world marred by people hurting people, I probably can identify. And then I can share who helped me heal.
Friends, there are times when "church" drives me up the wall. It is so difficult sometimes to see past what people do to what they are - in all their imperfections and propensity to injure each other - they are the Bride of Christ - the Church. And in that is a reason to keep loving and learning to love. In that is the hope that Jesus and His amazing love will work out the divisions we've created between us and get His heart's desire. Which is...
21 May they all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so that the world may believe You sent Me. 22 I have given them the glory that You have given to Me. May they be one just as We are one. 23 I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so that the world may know You sent Me and that You have loved them just as You have loved Me.
John 17:21-23 (HCSB)
Friends, everyone has scars. Everyday has enough trouble. We have to ask God to grant us the grace not only to stand under our burdens, but to help our neighbor bear his.
We were made to love God and each other, and placed together in places like New Hope to do more than we could ever do separately.
Pray for your church - for your pastors, your deacons, your teachers, your nursery workers. Find something to praise them for. Give them the gift of encouragement. There are far too many self-inflicted wounds on the Body of Christ.