By Gerald Daniels
He was the perfect picture of a warrior — an Apache Indian, 6 feet 3 inches tall and probably weighs on the high side of 275. But as we talked I could tell this giant of a man possessed a tender heart and gentle spirit. We parted company with an agreement to meet the next evening and take up where we had left off. It was no surprise that he was there waiting when I pulled in. I learned that he was a highly decorated war veteran, a 6G certified welder, an accomplished horseman and that he wanted to be in his own business before long. After sharing this list of accomplishments and aspirations he pulled off his glasses, took a deep breath and began to tell me of the beatings and demoralizing experiences that he and his sister had endured throughout their childhood. As I listened to his life story I wondered how he had survived.
I listened with complete uncertainty as to what I would say when he quit speaking. There was silence when he did, and then instantly I knew what my role was that evening. It stems from my purpose, and that is to help people make sense of difficult issues in life. It wasn’t the time or the place to kick into counseling mode, but it was the perfect opportunity to plant a seed of hope. He wasn’t seeking sympathy, although I was overwhelmed with it. He was seeking direction — how to find and fulfill his purpose in life. So, I related a passage from Jim Whitt’s book, The Transformational Power of Purpose. Something he could mull over until we got back together. It starts with a quote from Elbert Hubbard, “God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.” Jim goes on to explain that scars have value when you understand your purpose in life: “I can tell you where every scar is on my body. And I can tell you the story behind every one of those scars. But scar tissue is tougher than your unblemished skin…Wear your scars proudly. They are evidence that you have been in the battle — and survived.”
That is hard to explain and even harder to understand when we’re in the midst of a battle, but simply put, life is tough sometimes and it is rarely fair. We must know why, and for what we’re fighting, so that ultimately there is meaning. What we make of the scars from life’s battles often determine the outcome of future events and issues that help shape all of our lives. I know this from experience. I spent 20 years of my life in prison. If that’s where the story ended it would be depressing. But here’s the rest of the story. I discovered my purpose in life while in prison and was fulfilling it even while I was there. See, I can help people make sense of the difficult issues in life because I’ve had to make sense of the difficult issues in my life. I’ve been in many battles — physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually — and I’ve got the scars to prove it. As Jim writes in his book, “No one is going to say or do anything to me that will deter me from fulfilling my purpose now.” Today I own my own business. But that’s not what makes me successful. The fact that I’m fulfilling my purpose is what makes me successful. That’s why I’m looking forward to my next meeting with this warrior. He has strengthened my resolve and commitment to help those who know they have a purpose, but because they are struggling with the difficult issues in life have been unable to find and fulfill it.
Maybe some of the difficult issues you have struggled with in life have left scars. If so, remember — God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars. Scars are reminders you have been in the battle and survived. If you’ve survived that means you have a purpose in life. When you find it and start on the path of its fulfillment you’ll be able to make sense of the difficult issues in your life.