I grew up at 38 Border Road in LaGrange, Georgia. My family was so poor we couldn’t even pay attention! Oh, we were happy and well adjusted; we were just poor! But the truth is that growing up poor teaches you how to make adjustments, adapt to your circumstances, and improvise.
My childhood friend and I loved to play baseball. However, his family was just as poor as mine. So, we couldn’t afford a baseball, or a bat for that matter! So we improvised by using a stick for a bat and a crushed tin can for a baseball.
One day I was pitching and he was hitting. He hit the ball (can) and it hit me dead in the face below my right eye. (I gave new meaning to the old saying: Keep your eye on the ball!) Blood began to flow and long story short – I had to have about five stitches to close the wound.
The innocence of my childhood has long since faded and many from the old neighborhood, whose faces I can still see in my mind’s eye, are no longer with us. However, the results of the encounter I had on that day with a tin can – left a permanent mark on me. I can still look into the mirror and see a visible reminder of an encounter from over fifty years ago.
Amazingly, it is those ugly, hideous looking marks that life sometimes leaves, that empower us to help others. In John 20: 19-20 (KJV), we find such a story, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” Understand the context of the story. Jesus has died. The disciples are gathered in a room behind a closed door for fear of the Jews. Jesus appears to them by walking right through a closed door. Then he speaks to them! That would have been enough to have totally blown my mind. I would have been like Gomer Pile. You would have heard me saying, “Shazzam! Did y’all see that? Boom! He just walked right through that closed door! And do ya’ll hear that? A dead man is talking!” But strangely enough, none of that impressed the disciples. They weren’t impressed until they saw His scars – the marks that life had left on Him. The Bible says that when He showed them His hands and feet, “Then’ were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” It was only when they saw His marks that they received Him. Not before!
As we travel through this thing called life we leave a mark and are marked by it. So, let us do everything within our power to insure that the life-encounters we have with others are so phenomenally positive and God honoring that they leave a permanent mark on them; a mark they will remember with fondness fifty plus years from now. And yes, whether by our smile, a kind word, a thoughtful act, a prayer prayed, or a kind deed, we are leaving a mark upon others in life – a mark that gives them a platform to tell others about Jesus. Let us make sure we leave the right marks!