Living in a country where memorials of one kind or another dot the landscape can make dealing with a holiday like Veterans’ Day a bit challenging. Reminders of sacrifices made and the cost of victories won are everywhere, but this Veterans’ Day, my thoughts are captivated by monuments that aren’t carved out of granite and marble or engraved on brass plaques. I think there is no more fitting memorial to be considered or basis for honor to be bestowed than the scars borne by those who engaged enemies in our place, fought battles on our behalf, and whose torn, broken, burned, and violated bodies insulated us from the kinds of torture they endured to secure our freedom. I join with multitudes this Veterans’ Day in honoring those warriors and celebrating the legacy of courage that was established through their wounds and preserved by their scars.
A Story to be Told ~
Scars are living memorials shared by all humanity. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and obviously, some are more significant than others, but all share some common characteristics. They provide indisputable, unbiased evidence that an invasion took place in the body they inhabit. Scars don’t just appear out of nowhere. There’s a story to be told about every one of them, and it’s always a tale of pain inflicted, of blood that was shed, and of trauma that had to be endured. Scars, by their very existence, remind all who see them that a battle was fought on that very spot and that healing came at a painful price.
Scars don’t just appear out of nowhere. There’s a story to be told about every one of them.
Scars are personal. There’s no universal warrior scar and no standard design for accidental injuries or assault victims. Every scar on every injured body is as unique and personal as the wound that caused it. There’s nothing abstract and impersonal about scars, and no one looks at his or her scars in those terms. The memorials they create in human tissue are fixed, permanent residents of the body they inhabit. They aren’t optional attachments like a garment that can be discarded when the fashion trend changes. Like it or not, a scar’s history is an inseparable part of the history of the one with whom and in whom they live.
Scars Are Testimonials ~
But scars are more than monuments to remind us of battles. They are testimonies of victory. They affirm that pain was inflicted, but they also prove that it was absorbed and overcome. Scars admit that a breach in some protective wall failed and a foreign intruder found access, but they also declare that the enemy was repelled. Scars testify that the battle was won, that the main defenses held, that weak places were restored, reinforced, and made stronger than before.
Scars are not just stories to be told. They are more than that. They are songs to be sung. Each scar’s music is uniquely its own, but they all begin with a tearful melody that flows from a place much deeper than the small space they occupy on the surface. Scars are ballads written in the heat of battle and sung by victors on behalf of all those who know what it is to be attacked. Their minor chords of pathos and fear eventually fade, and the movement shifts as a powerful upward transition begins. Major chords of faith and love blend in to drown out the pain, dispel the fear, and build to a climactic crescendo of victorious praise.
Making a Personal Connection ~
Thousands will gather around all kinds of memorials this Veterans Day to honor and celebrate the courageous men and women who made sacrifices we cannot begin to imagine. Stories will be told. Patriotic songs will be sung. Hearts will be stirred, and tears will be shed as we’re reminded that the freedom we so easily take for granted was not achieved by a majority vote in some legislative body. It was purchased by the broken bodies and shed blood of those who considered its value worth the cost. But today, we look beyond the cold, hard statues of warriors or painted images of battles. Today we focus, too, on something more personal. Today we focus on those who are living, and whose bodies in many cases bear the marks of their sacrifices on our behalf. Maybe if we thought about the scars that adorn the flesh of those men and women who were wounded for all of us, in the same way, we think about scars on our own bodies, their sacrifices might seem more real, more personal. Then maybe, too, as we think of wounded warriors, ultimate sacrifices, and personal connections, the greatest Warrior of all time would come to mind, and we would also honor and celebrate the most profound sacrifice ever made, and the deepest personal connection possible.
May we never forget the living memorial in Jesus’ flesh that will be on display for all time.
When Jesus was impaled on the cross, His tortured body became the repository of every vile thing God ever condemned and that people like us ever did or wanted to do. He absorbed all of the awful consequences that our human pride, and hate, and greed, and jealousy, and every other form of evil perversity could create. Everything that ever prompted shame and regret in the hearts of men was poured out on Him. That body was pierced and mutilated almost beyond recognition and became the object of ridicule and derision until even the Father turned His gaze away. He fought the most intense battle against the most powerful enemy ever engaged by man, and it appeared at first that all had been lost. But when Heaven’s victorious Wounded Warrior emerged from the tomb on that first Easter morning, everything was different.
The ragged tears in His flesh were gone, and every molecule of His physical body was perfectly whole, flawlessly complete, and equipped to live forever. Every trace of sin’s horrific attack was removed — except for one. He allowed the scars to remain. The wounds He endured to win our eternal freedom were ugly and deep, and the scars He kept for us to see won’t ever let them be forgotten.
Among heroes to be honored, victories to be celebrated, and songs to be sung this Veterans’ Day, may we never forget the living memorial in Jesus’ flesh that will be on display for all time. As we tell of battles fought, victories won, and the awful price of freedom, may God help us not to forget the one Warrior who died on our behalf and rose again. His scars have a story to tell and a song to be sung, too. It’s the greatest story of victory of all time and the most powerfully uplifting song we could ever sing, because it’s not just about Him. It’s about us and the gift He offers each of us through His wounds.
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)
May the very Prince of Peace Himself, and the peace we so long for, make your Veterans’ Day celebration the most vividly heartfelt ever.
In addition to his website, Gallagher’s Pen, where he publishes a weekly blog with a primary emphasis on unfolding responses to culturally relevant topics in accordance with Biblical insights, Ron Gallagher contributes regularly to Refresh Bible Study Magazine and various other freelance efforts. He is also a church consultant, featured speaker, and newspaper columnist. Connect with him at www.GallaghersPen.com or www.facebook.com/GallaghersPen.Ron’s new book, Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth, is available on Amazon.