Before our first service on Easter Sunday, Bill, a dear friend of mine, a wonderful man of God, whom I deeply respect, asked to speak to me. He had something he wanted to give me. I was talking to Bob at the time. Bob was like a 2nd dad to me growing up. Bill wanted Bob to stay as he presented me with the gift.
Before I committed my life to Christ at the age of 15, I spent a lot of time at Bob’s house. His daughter was my best friend. Their home was a source of stability and strength for me growing up…a respite from the craziness that was my life. They lived the street over from me. They took me wherever they went as a family. Often they took me with them to their good friend’s house (Bill and Dot). They would play cards while the kids played.
My first memory – and my most vivid memory of Bill and Dot’s house occurred at the age of 13. They had cool things to do at their house….they had a net that you could climb that hung over the stream that ran through their property. They also had zip lines before zip lines were “cool”. There was a low one and a high one. I did the low one several times. I finally mustered the courage to do the high one. It was 16 to 20 feet off the ground and went over the stream. There was no harness or safety apparatus 🙂 I did the high one like a champ.
The adults must have walked away because what happened next was not the smartest thing I have ever done…Jodi (Bill and Dot’s daughter) and I decided to ride the zip line on the high wire…together!!!!
Let me paint a picture of why this was not the brightest of ideas. Jodi was/is this petite, athletic 105 – 110 pound cute, little thing…I was none of those 🙂 . We barely made it off the platform when the pulley went to my side and my hand slipped and I plummeted some 16 feet to the earth below. I barely missed landing on a tree stump. I fell on the side of the stream where there was no road…all the adults had to come sloshing through the stream to get to me. So did the rescue squad. I remember Nita (Bob’s wife) and Dot praying over me until the ambulance got there. When it was all said and done, I spent 3 days in the hospital with a fractured back and a broken wrist.
When I finally got home, I remember the youth pastors of the church coming to my house to visit and pray with me. Those youth pastors were Jim and Joyce Cooper, my pastorand boss today 🙂 And that was my first memory of them!
My falling out of the tree has led to many a discussion and story telling over the years 🙂 . Since that time, Bill and Dot have become important people in my life…people who have helped me grow in my walk with the Lord over the years.
Which brings me back to Easter Sunday. Bill shared with me that after seeing the Children’s program on Palm Sunday – The Three Trees – he thought of me. In the story there are three trees who want to do great things when they grow up and leave the forest. One ends up being the manger that Jesus was laid in when He was born, the second one becomes the boat that Jesus sails in when He calms the sea and the third one grew up to be the Cross Jesus was crucified on.
And the day before – Bill said – he had to chop down the tree from which I fell those many years ago. It was rotten and dangerous (like it wasn’t rotten and dangerous before 🙂 . Bill continued “Who knew that particular tree would grow up to become a symbol of pain in your life. He then presented me with a piece of the bark from the fallen tree.
I was so incredibly touched! So was Bob. Falling from the tree was the first time I remember someone praying over me. It was my first memory of Pastor Jim and Joyce…I remember sitting between them on my couch as they prayed for healing for me and for God to touch my life. It seemed weird to this unchurched 13-year-old but felt right and true.
Pastor Jim spoke on Easter Sunday about scars and how they tell a story. Jesus’ scars tell of His love for us. His death, burial and that He is alive now, today. People in our church shared their stories — of scars in their lives that show God’s grace and healing power; a woman who unexpectedly became a single mom through traumatic circumstances; a young man who saw combat in Afghanistan – and saw and experienced things a 21-year-old should never have to; a man who lost his mom at the age of 13 and stopped going to church but how a rare kidney disease and the love of a church brought him back to God; and a pastor who had been hurt, almost destroyed by a church…
We all have wounds. Life is not always fair. Bad things happen. We suffer consequences of poor choices. The Good News of Easter is we have the opportunity to allow God to heal our deep, gaping wounds. The scar left behind will be a reminder, a testimony, a symbol of God’s healing power, His love, and His amazing grace!
As I looked at that piece of bark from the tree that caused me much pain – it reminded me of the good that came out of it. And how far I have come from that 13-year-old girl, who had no idea of who Jesus was to where I am today…a woman who understands the scars of the Cross and the price that was paid so that I could be free. I am amazed at His goodness towards me.
I am going to write John 20:24 – 28 Scripture on this piece of bark and shellac it as a reminder to me that scars tell a story. And may the scars of my life Always point to Jesus.