I’ve wept with this woman. Prayed with this woman. Laughed loud with this woman and served alongside her. I’ve been changed by the heart of this woman for Jesus. Couldn’t love her more. For twenty years, my friend, Sheila Walsh was a keynote speaker with Women of Faith and her passionate commitment is to simply and powerfully allow the light of Christ to shine through the broken places of her story. Sheila Walsh doesn’t merely write words, she lives her words — and the Word. When things aren’t okay, I honestly don’t know a wiser, more life-giving, Jesus-clinging guide than Sheila Walsh. It’s a grace to welcome her to the farm’s front porch today…
I read a comment someone left on my Facebook page one day and it made me smile. The person had written, “I pray that one day I can be the fearless godly woman you are.”
I sent off a reply, aware that it didn’t come close to telling the whole story of what a fear-filled child and young woman I had been and the long, hard walk to begin to understand where true courage is found.
I wished I could sit with this young woman and walk her through the years and the moments that had shaped me, but where would I even start? Do photos tell our story?
I treasure an old black-and-white photo taken in my parents’ garden before my dad’s suicide.
My mum, shiny black hair falling in gentle curls onto her shoulders, sweet smile, holding my sister’s hand. Me, sitting on a blanket on the grass, my handsome dad kneeling behind me as I lean on him for support.
Fast-forward four years. Something has changed in the photo of my six-year-old self. I’m standing in a blue dress with the summer sun kissing my face with freckles. I’m smiling but there’s a guardedness in my smile. I see it in my shoulders too; no longer leaning into the photo, I’m pulling slightly back.
Suicide in a family changes everything.
What about the Polaroid taken the night I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital—pale, thin, eyes dim as if the lights had been turned off inside? Does that tell a more honest story? Or do our scars tell the story?
Should I start with the little indentation on my right knee? I fell off my bike when I was four and Mum had to dig the gravel out. I was so proud of that scar.
What about the scar on my upper left arm from the mandatory vaccinations every Scottish child was given in school? They called it the “bird’s nest” because it was round and had five little needles, little birds that popped up and stabbed you. I remember lining up behind my classmates in the nurse’s room. They were chatting and laughing, but I was terrified.
By this point in my life, I associated any type of pain with overwhelming loss. I wanted no more scars.
None of these pictures or scars would tell the turning point in my story.
No picture could capture that profound moment when, finally, the scars of Christ met the woundedness in me.
For that, I would have to take her to the back row of a small church in Washington, DC, in 1992. As the pastor came to the end of his message he said something that woke my attention.
He said that he knew some of us felt dead inside. I looked up. It was like he was talking to me. He said, no matter how deep the hole was, Jesus was here, that we didn’t have to get ourselves out of the hole, just call on His name and He would pull us free.
In that moment, I felt as if I was the only one in the church; and standing before me, arms open wide, with nail pierced hands, was Jesus.
The words of a hymn that my beloved nana used to sing to me washed over me in healing waves and I began to understand them for the first time:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.
As I left the church that morning I knew I wasn’t fixed, it was a greater gift, I was seen — seen in all my brokenness and loved.There is no image that displays the love of God more perfectly than the scars of Jesus. The scars tell God’s story.
“That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!” (John 20:19–20)
But before the joy, there was heartache and questions. Nothing made sense anymore.
John records much of the final conversation Jesus had with His disciples on the night He was betrayed. He tried to prepare them for what was about to happen, but they didn’t understand.
They knew the Master but not the Masterplan.
They were singing hymns as they left the upper room and headed across the Kidron Valley. Then it all started to go wrong.
Haven’t you been there? I know I have. You’re in a great place, loving God, family intact, when suddenly something you didn’t see coming happens, and you wonder where God is, and does He see what’s going on?
It might be relational or health, finances or future plans, but whatever it is, when it hits, and it feels wrong, it’s hard not to panic.
We all know we’ll face challenges in life, but sometimes we’re hit by something that feels as if the enemy has won. That’s a frightening place to be. That must have been how the disciples felt that night.
But as the risen Christ held out His nail-pierced hands and wounded side to His friends, they were no longer marks of death, they were signs of victory: declaring that death was overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Christ wears those scars in heaven as glorious trophies of the battle He has won.
The only wound from this earth in eternity will be the scars of Christ. If Christ has chosen to live eternally with His scars, why would we be ashamed to show ours?
I think that every time God the Father sees the pierced hands and feet of Christ, He sees you and me. The scars tell God’s love story.
Some of our scars show on the surface, but some are hidden deep inside, wounds from things that were done to us, or from choices we’ve made and secrets we’ve kept.
The love of God invites us to bring our scars into the light. We don’t have to hide anymore. It really is okay not to be okay.
Would you allow the love of God to rest upon your scars?
Ask Him to help you see them not as scars to be hidden but as glorious tattoos of triumph because you’re still here.
Our scars are proof that God heals.
Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than 5 million books sold. She is cohost of LIFE Today with James and Betty Robison and her Wednesdays in the Word program, with more than 100 million viewers. Walsh is a popular speaker and Bible teacher around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil.
We’ve all experienced that moment when we wish we could start all over again. Failed marriages, lost friends, addictions, lost jobs. This is not the life we imagined. Yesterday can leave us stuck, sad, shamed, scared, and searching. Sheila Walsh wants you to face the pain head-on and then start again, from right where you are.
In It’s Okay Not to Be Okay: Moving Forward One Day at a Time, she helps you overcome the same old rut of struggles and pain by changing the way you think about God, yourself, and your everyday life. She shares practical, doable, daily strategies that will help you move forward one step at a time, knowing God will never let you down.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]