Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, (Numbers 3:12)
Relate: His name wasn’t Joe, but Joe works. Joe was a junior at a camp where I was counselor. He wasn’t the best looking guy, he wasn’t the smartest, or the most sociable. On all counts he was a little below average. He was a follower and about a month earlier he followed some other guys into doing some very stupid things. They were caught. Now Joe had a court date coming up. He also had scars on his wrists. In his words, Joe said, “I’m such a screwup I couldn’t even do that right.” I sat in the back of the chapel with Joe and we read the end of the book of John together. We started with chapter 18 and just kept going. After every moment of suffering Jesus went through on the way to the cross I stopped and said, “He did this for you.” We were both in tears and before we got to the end, Joe had given his heart to God.
That was well over a decade ago. Joe is now serving the Lord, he has a great wife and some awesome children. The advent of facebook has helped us reconnect and Joe has shared how his scars are now a story. He has a gift for investing into the lives of people who are now where he was. What he once saw as failures he now sees as opportunity.
React: Levi was a failure. He was cursed. He had taken the distinctiveness of God’s covenant and, with his brother Simeon they used it to murder an entire community for revenge. Years go by. Lots of them. Now his descendants have taken this curse and used it as an opportunity to focus on God. The Levites are cursed to never have their own inheritance, instead God is their inheritance. The tragedy of an ancestor’s failure is now a springboard with which they can lead all Israel in worshiping God.
What stories do my scars tell? My hands are riddled with them. There’s one by my thumb where my sister clawed me because I stole… something of hers. There’s where I got stitches on my middle finger when I almost cut my finger off with the hedge clippers. I’d convinced my dad I did half the ride to the emergency room. He wasn’t too happy with that. My eyebrow covers up more stitches from riding a rocking horse right down the stairs. I thought I’d killed it. But there are also deeper scars. From the girl who showed a love poem I wrote her to the entire school. Some of the names I was called. And there’s deeper scars still that don’t need to be shared. You have some of those too, I’m sure. We all do. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all failed. We’ve all been the victims of others sin and failure as well. The question is, will I be like the Levites? Will I allow my scars become the stories of God’s grace or will I wallow in the failures of the past and drift into obscurity, like Simeon who shared Levi’s curse. Which will I chose? What about you?
Help me never to forget, God, that You have scars. You carry the marks of my shame. My sin is what nailed You to the tree and dragged You to the grave so that it doesn’t have to drag me under. You will carry those scars through eternity so that I will never forget Your amazing grace. When I let myself be dragged down by the shame and guilt of my past I belittle what You have done for me. Help me to never to do that. Instead let me take the story of scars, Yours and mine, to those whose hurts are still needing healing.