I was pretty excited tonight when my husband told me that Joe Empey would be speaking to the youth tonight at the church. Joe was one of the missionary’s in the Brussels Terrorist bombing that happened last year. I haven’t heard his story from him yet, so was excited to go. He only had maybe 10 min, but there was something that happened that made a huge impact on me.
Joe was telling about what happened just after the bomb went off: being unconscious, waking up, realizing what was going and somehow being aware of exactly what it was, finding his companion, looking for others, then the pain setting in. As he approached his companion and asked if he was okay, he asked where the sister was and if she was ok. His companion said, “she’s burned like you.” Joe said he then looked down at his hands and realized he was burned. “I still have the burns and scars here on my hand,” he said, holding it up.
As “the oil lady,” my first thought was, “I need to get him some oils to help that scaring.” And then I heard it. “He’s going to want this scar. I still have mine.” My heart began to swell. Joe will treasure this scar. Not because he’s a boy who thinks scars are cool and a sign of manhood like my boys do. But this one is different. This one tells a story. This one has deep meaning. This one is about a miracle of a life being saved– physically and spiritually. This one tells about how many others were “saved,” too.
Joe went on to say that in the hospital after the accident, he questioned why missionaries who were spreading love and teaching of Christ would have this happen to them. And his answer came through a scripture he read while in the hospital. John 16:32-33
32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
For a young man thousands of miles from home. No family there. In the middle of a terrorist attack, it’s no wonder that he saw the tribulation of the world, but was given powerful comfort from the Savior. So many people have been touched by this story. Probably more missionary work from this one event than he ever anticipated.
But my mind came back to the scars. As women we are often trying to hide the scars, the wrinkles, the battlewounds from life. I thought of all the healing I’ve been trying to do to be whole again. I thought of how many times I’ve asked to touch the robe or to jump in a pool of Bethesda. I KNOW Christ and my Heavenly Father can heal EVERYTHING and make it all perfect. So why am I not healed?
And yet Christ, who could raise from the dead, still has scars. He could get rid of them. He IS whole and perfect. But He still has scars. And to those whom He has appeared, they’ve seen them with their eyes, touched them with their hands, and bathed them with their tears. I picture this over and over in my head all the time. That glorious day when I meet Him. I’ll see the scars!
And I’ll know the story they tell. The price they paid. The pain. The struggle. The battle. Wanting the cup removed. The miracle. People saved. God’s love felt.
Joe, those hands gave me a glimpse of God’s love tonight. Those beautiful scarred hands– yours and His– that tell a wonderful, powerful story. It made me long for that day. And, He also let me know that the struggles we are going through that give us scars remind us of a great battle won, a victory gained, experience given, wisdom learned, and pure love felt. Those scars change us. And even though we’d like to look perfect or be whole, that little bit serves as a reminder of God’s perfect love for us and how it changed us.
“…In ME ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
And His hands remind me that indeed He has overcome the world. Those scars let me know He has.
Thank you, Joe. for allowing me to take a picture of your hands to always remind me that scars are a beautiful reminder that we are not alone!