Wednesday, May 09, 2012


“The king was deeply moved and went up to the gate chamber and wept. As he walked, he cried, ‘My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!’ “ (2 Samuel 18:33 HCSB)

We can do some stupid things.  Actions have consequences.  As a teenager, we were riding sleds down a rough mountain road.  The snow was packed and iced over—it was like an Olympic bobsled run!  Somewhere along the way, someone suggested, “Let’s make a train!”

So, we lined up some sleds.  I laid down on mine and grabbed the ankles of the sled runner in front, somebody grabbed my ankles behind me—and off we went down that curvy, steep incline—flying like a missile.  Then we came to a curve, and there was suddenly a problem we had not considered—steering!  We were missiles alright—but not laser-guided, computer-directed missiles—more like the Scud missiles fired off by Iraq in the Gulf War—dangerous, but not accurate!

The important piece of data we overlooked was that if you didn’t have hold of the sled’s steering bar—having chosen instead to grab the ankles of the guy lying on his sled in front of you—there would be no way to guide these projectiles on ice!  It felt like we were going a hundred miles an hour, when catastrophe struck, and I tried to recover.  I let go of the guy in front as carnage ensued—teenagers flying here and there—and almost made it.  Almost is the operative term.  I went airborne.  Grabbing for the sled, I managed to land on it.  The only trouble was, that when I reached in desperation for the sled, my right arm went under the runner, instead of taking hold of the side!  So, I continued careening down the “track” on top of my sled, with the sharp runner grinding my arm down into the road beneath, all my weight resting on it.

I still couldn’t steer, but was yet going remarkable fast.  Amazing what power gravity exerts!  Next up—a sharp curve.  But, I did stop—when I hit a big tree!  I stopped really fast.  I remember calling out to my fellow daredevils, “Hey, guys, I think I’m hurt!”  Do you reckon?

My arm now bore a long gaping hole—the flesh was peeled back and it looked like it went to the bone—at least that is what my mother thought when she briefly saw it, before she turned away and almost fainted.  So, off I was carted to the Emergency Room, where they sewed the wound shut.  It never did hurt that much, really, for the cut was so deep, it severed the nerves.  There is still an area of my hand that has little feeling in it.  Decades later, the effects of one foolish choice continue to be evident.  Until, the resurrection and a glorified body, I will have this scar.

David made a foolish choice one dark night.  It sounded like fun at the time.  But, he then sped down the icy road of disobedience, like a sled without steering—and what a crash!  He got up from it.  He moved on.  But, he carried the scars to his dying days.

These are the scars of sin.  We see them in the chapters of 2 Samuel, following his illicit relationship with Bathsheba and his violent “execution” of her husband.  The baby conceived in the adulterous relationship dies at birth.  David’s son Amnon rapes his half-sister, Tamar.  Tamar’s brother, Absalom has Amnon killed in revenge.  Absalom starts a revolution and takes over the kingdom, intent on killing his father David.  David flees for his life and is cursed by Shimei as he goes, while stones are thrown at him along with the taunts.  David’s men do prevail, but his son Absalom is butchered in battle.  Sorrow would sweep over David at the news of his son’s death.  These are the scars of sin.

Did David find forgiveness? Absolutely!  Was he restored to usefulness in God’s kingdom?  Certainly, God returned him to the throne.  Would he ever take up the harp and play songs of praise to God again, as in former days?  He would.  The wound was sewn up, the skin healed, but the scars remained.  You can still see those scars today as you open the pages of God’s Word.

The Serpent is so crafty.  He loves to slither up and whisper, “Go ahead and do this.  It will be such fun.  It’s not so bad—and after all, you know God will forgive you. You may as well go ahead.”  Have you ever heard that?  There is just enough truth in it to make us swallow the bait—then we are on the hook!

But, the Devil isn’t done—his name means, “The Accuser” and he has mastered his role.  When we do sin, he hisses, “Now, you’ve done it.  This is so bad—God will never forgive you.  You may as well give up!”  We look down at the scars of sin and think, I am so disfigured by it, no one would love me—not even God.

But, here’s what God will do in His grace—if you are willing to humble yourself before Him as David did.  When Shimei cursed him, and his men wanted to kill the cur, David responds this way:

“When King David got to Bahurim, a man belonging to the family of the house of Saul was just coming out. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he was yelling curses as he approached.  He threw stones at David and at all the royal servants, the people and the warriors on David's right and left. Shimei said as he cursed: ‘Get out, get out, you worthless murderer!  The Lord has paid you back for all the blood of the house of Saul in whose place you became king, and the Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. Look, you are in trouble because you're a murderer!’

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut his head off!’  The king replied, ‘Sons of Zeruiah, do we agree on anything? He curses [me] this way because the Lord told him, “Curse David!” Therefore, who can say, “Why did you do that?” ’   Then David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘Look, my own son, my own flesh and blood, intends to take my life-how much more now this Benjaminite! Leave him alone and let him curse [me]; the Lord has told him to.  Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead of Shimei's curses today.’  So David and his men proceeded along the road as Shimei was going along the ridge of the hill opposite him. As Shimei went, he cursed [David], and threw stones and dirt at him.” (2 Samuel 16:5-13 HCSB)

David wasn’t defiant, but contrite.  This paved the way for the outpouring of God’s grace.  Here is the promise:

But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!  Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:6-10 HCSB)

God exalted David again.

One day, the scar on my wrist will be gone, when I get to heaven.  But, as long as I live on earth, it is a reminder of the importance of choices and how one foolish impulse can mark you for life.  But, by the grace of God that scar has been transformed into a testimony!  God used it today to convey a message to you.  It stands as a warning against rash decisions, and a reminder of God’s mercy in sparing me from worse injury, even death!

Are you thinking about making a wicked choice today?  Think again.  The results may seriously scar you.

Do you already have such scars from a sinful past?  Humble yourself before the Lord.  Seek His grace.  The scars can be transformed into a testimony to help others.

I can show you my scar, if you want to see it.

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