The Scars That Remain

Driving across my pastures, I’m always looking for signs. Invasive weeds or insects that signal a need for treatment or sneaky serpents that can cause harm to my newborn calves and my buddy, Bubba, the chocolate lab. It seems every drive results in discovering more things to add to an ever-growing list of chores. On this day, I saw fewer things to do and more lessons from the past.

Noticing a crack in the ground, God led me to stop and consider what was before me. In Texas, it’s not uncommon to see cracked ground (caused by a shrinkage of the dry clay-based soil, like a dry sponge). What is uncommon is seeing them in winter and spring, when puddles dot my pastures and my roads are muddy. Especially after God’s blessing of nearly 41 inches of rain since last October. In the past seven months, we have received almost as much rainfall as we see in a year (~46 inches of rain). After suffering through a severe drought in 2021-2022, rainfall was much needed. It’s replenished our pond, helped the winter grasses thrive (weeds included), and brought life back to our parched fields and pastures. Still, the scars of the damage inflicted remain. I often tell folks, “After last year, I’ll never complain about mud again.”

Taking the photo shown, I wanted to reflect upon this peculiar sight when I had more time. I wasn’t sure what God wanted me to learn from it, but I felt strongly there was a lesson to be found.

God often prompts us to take notice of things He wants to use as an object lesson. #ATeachingGod #ListenForGod #AnActiveGod Click To Tweet

The more time I spend in “God’s Country”, I find myself more attuned to how He uses His natural world (animals, plants, trees, weather, etc.) to teach us. It didn’t surprise me I found a lesson in my pasture, but I sure didn’t expect to see cracked ground. Indeed, the scars of a most difficult season remained. The chasms before me weren’t as wide or deep as they were before, yet their presence reminded me of the pain and difficulty we faced.

Thinking and praying over the photo later, my mind traveled as my fingers ran across various scars all around my body. Running along each one, I remembered the injury or surgery associated with it, and the associated pain. Sometimes the injury inflicted the pain. Other times, more pain came in the healing. And yes, there was some pain I inflicted upon myself through self-talk and self-doubt. Next, I recalled some of the emotional scars I still carry. A less than stellar childhood, war, divorce, and losing loved ones came to mind. A lifetime of physical and emotional pain has left many scars. They form the roadmap of my life.

Scars come in many forms, yet all can reflect healing rather than hurt. #Scars #ReleaseFromPain #Healing Click To Tweet

A roadmap? Like the lines of a highway on a map, my scars traced a route from childhood to the present. As my fingers traced my body’s trail of scars (toes, ankle, knees, hip, side, shoulder, hands, and neck), they arrived at the place where the deepest scars of all live. My mind. It is here where all the memories of the pain, hurt, anguish, and sorrow live. With many, their journey stops there. They dwell on their past and re-live all the pain and hurt experienced in their life. Thankfully, God did not allow my journey of remembrance to end there. Instead, He guided me to the spot where my past trail ended and my new journey began. It was when my thoughts arrived in my heart that I found Jesus.

He was there, awaiting my arrival. With a smile and firm embrace He held me close and whispered, “I’ve got you friend, and your long journey of pain ends with Me.” In that moment, I realized that while I kept many scars, there was no longer any pain associated with them. His gift of grace had allowed me to lay all the pain, anger, and hatred at His feet. He took it all and forgiveness removed all the associated pain. In my heart, Christ reminded me of His promise. “More pain and agony will come into this life. I have taken them too, if you remember to give it to Me.”

One of my favorite worship songs is by Mr. Matthew West. His song “Forgiveness” speaks to me in a way few can. It reminds me that through forgiveness, God sets us free from the pain we ensnare ourselves with.

My prayer for you this week is that you partake of God’s amazing grace by laying down the pain of your past once and for all. It’s accomplished by surrendering it to God through the act of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31-32). In doing so, you’ll find your scars no longer cause you pain (Job 11:16). I assure you; the memories often remain but they become painless, numbed by grace.

God’s blessings,


58 thoughts on “The Scars That Remain”

  1. Funny, I was just thinking this week about writing a post about past hurts after talking with someone about some painful things from their high school days. Ultimately what it comes down to is what you said–forgiveness of whoever hurt us and surrender of the whole situation to God.

    1. Please do write that post Ms. Barbara. I love your perspective on things my friend, and from the number of posts I’ve seen recently on this subject, it seems clear to me that God wants the world to hear His message. Thank you ma’am.

  2. J.D., this is a beautiful post! I am so grateful God brought you to Himself and healed your pain. You are such a blessing! It is amazing but I often thank God for the scars – they remind me of His grace and mercy and love poured out on my life. And I never want to forget nor take Him for granted.
    And I am so grateful for the rains you and the ranch have received. May He keep your pond filled! Blessings!

  3. The description of your transformation brings tears to my eyes, J.D. Only God! With Him, all things are possible. Funny, I was just writing about scars today too. Ugly scars are a beautiful reminder of God’s healing and restoration. Thank you for sharing so transparently. I know many hearts will be touched.

    1. Amen Ms. Annie. “Only God” indeed ma’am. Thank you so much. It always amazes me how God can use multiple people to share His message for this world. Our writing friend, Mrs. Sylvia Schroeder wrote about scars, I did, you are, and I’m certain others have recently. Such holy validation. I pray folks are listening. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. I love how you find God’s lessons in nature. Keep ‘em comin’.
    I love that song Forgiveness too. It speaks to my heart and reminds me. And oh I need reminding because the devil tries to sneak in with ideas about my value. Get behind me satan. Jesus is before, beside, and behind me.

    1. He certainly does Ms. Cathy. Satan loves to try and dredge up our past hurts and haunts, doesn’t he? I’ve learned that when he does, I simply point him to my Savior by telling him that, “Hey, go talk to Jesus about that. He took that over for me.” Works every time! 😀 Of course, it works only when we have fully given it to Jesus. That’s the hard part, isn’t it?

  5. I hear you, friend. I struggle because of my past — some out of my control, and mostly, my own choices. I cling to Romans 8:1, but I also remember a t-shirt my son wore as a child: When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future. Amen! As always, I love the metaphors God gives you to reveal beautiful truths on your ranch. Blessings, friend.

  6. Jesus kept His scars in His resurrected body to remind us of what He redeemed us from. Our past has been washed in His blood and I so often must go back to the cross to remember that my past doesn’t define me. The cross does. Thank you, J.D.!

  7. Yes sir. The consequences of staying stuck in unforgiveness are much greater than the temporary pain of spiritual surgery by our Great Physician. We thank the Lord for freedom and healing, but also for the scars that remind us what He’s done.

    1. Agreed Ms. Dottie. When things or people remain unforgiven, we seem to replay them over and over in our minds. When we fully and truly forgive the offense by praying God bless our forgiveness, it seems like He takes all the anguish and pain we had from it and replaces it with His grace. It often feels like a burden is lifted when we forgive. God’s blessings ma’am.

  8. I love your statement that scars are signs of healing instead of hurts.
    Healing fascinates me. We break a bone and it grows back together. We break a piece of wood and it needs glue.
    God made us to heal, body and soul.
    Beautiful message, JD. Thanks and God bless!

    1. Great way to view them Ms. Marjorie. We used to say, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” I am wont to add, “… and I’ve got the battle scars to prove it!” now. 😀 God’s blessings ma’am.

  9. We all bear scars of lives meaningfully lived, though not always pleasant to recall, J. D. But God can turn anything around to His purposes, so let’s lay all of our scars and burdens at His feet.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Martha Jane. As Ms. Marjorie Hill mentioned above, our scars are like battle ribbons on a unit’s flag. They remind us of the battles we’ve fought. God’s blessings ma’am.

  10. Oh, J.D., my heart aches for the boy who endured the pain of injustice. I’m so grateful our Savior lovingly gives us a new roadmap to His redemption and healing mercy.

    Blessings to you,

    1. Thank you Ms. Tammy. So sweet ma’am. I remind myself these days, because forgiveness has enabled me to, that if it weren’t for what the shy, quiet little boy endured, he could not be the man that God made him to be. And yes ma’am, when God enters your heart, your trip is re-routed. Aren’t you glad He’s already promised us our final destination? Each person’s journey will be different, but I pray a great many will all end up in the same place; among the clouds with Jesus, a great witness to all His glory.

  11. Edwina Cowgill

    I teach a class that helps participants look at the bad fruit (bitterness anger, distress, etc.) in their life and we trace that fruit all the way back to their childhood, in some it’s traced back to infancy (that’s where I discovered the bitter root beginning in my life) and we work through the progression of forgiving the people who hurt them. It takes a long time to work through the situation to forgiveness, but it is worth every minute. I’ve seen many lives changed and families reconciled. Bless you for sharing your journey!

  12. Good day, Mr J.D.,

    I’m sitting in Israel after a day of seeing the Holy land, especially Mt. Carmel where Elijah had GOD prove His power over the priests of Baal.

    The 450 of Baal would have overcome the small mountain top. And considering the need for Elijah to prove who really is God, I presume the Hebrew people needed a reminder of the glory of God. There would have been no better mountain top for the demonstration. One can see the Mediterranean Sea, a vast valley of commerce and agriculture, and trade routes with merchants moving between Damascus and Egypt. Talk about witnesses!

    My point is when I read that scripture the public eye doesn’t seem to be included. Standing on the site makes it plain that even ships on the sea could see when the fire of GOD consumed the sacrifice of Elijah.

    Your summation of God’s power causes me to think about what I’m experiencing. What I think I know is there is no location where I can feel closer to Jesus than His presence in my heart.

    This is another fine work by you for God’s glory. Thank you, friend.


    1. Wow! What an amazing trip that must be Mr. Warren. I trust Ms. Barb is with you. Know that I’ll be praying God speaks to each of you in a mighty way as you draw closer to Him during this journey my friend.

  13. Yvonne Morgan

    Another great message my friend. It has me thinking about my scars and how they formed me into the person I am and lead me to Christ. This especially hit home today as I sit with a boot on my leg from a fall. The scars and pain don’t end but God provides for us through them.

  14. What a wonderful take on scars forming the roadmap of our lives. We can be thankful for each and every one if we let God teach us through them just like you allow Him to teach you through ranch life.

    Better not bitter – as I’ve heard Rick Warren say.

    1. Thank you Ms. Candyce. So very pleased you enjoyed this post ma’am. I think God wants all of us to be reminded that He can take our pain away if we will only surrender it to Him. Sometimes He doesn’t do it in the moment, but He will always deliver. God’s blessings my friend.

  15. This message touches my heart and soul, as do many of your messages. Thank you so much for reminding me that my scars, including outward and unseen scars have brought me closer to God. Blessings to you and Ms. Diane.

    1. Ditto Ms. Melissa. I’m often moved by your godly heart, which you express so well through your writing. I’m so glad you enjoyed, and be sure to say “Hey” to Bop for me. Sure hope I get to meet you two at BRMCWC in a few weeks.

  16. The Bible often connects suffering with the glory to come. What hope. And your story of experiencing some of that here and now through finding Jesus provides real encouragement.

  17. J.D., this brought tears to my eyes. Recalling your childhood pain and suffering and letting the Lord take it from you was so soul-stirring. I pray to lay down my past pain and not pick it up again. Scars can be a beautiful reminder of overcoming suffering and pain, Jesus knows first hand.

    1. J.D. Wininger

      Indeed He does Ms. Karen. My prayer for you, and perhaps your twin sister, is that you can lay down your past hurts. My friend Mr. John often reminds me, “There’s a reason the rear view mirror is so small and the windshield is so large. God wants you to keep looking forward.” God’s blessings precious friend.

  18. I am so very sorry, my friend, for being so late getting to your post. It is always a highlight of my week, but this week has been fraught with computer issues and a barrage of other distractions that have assassinated my routines and schedules. I’m sitting here taking a deep breath and rejoicing in finally getting to my “J.D. time.”
    Now, concerning the piece, I couldn’t help but review the scars that form my own “road map,” especially the internal ones. It’s fascinating how God designed us with those built-in prompts to remind us of where we’ve been and how He got us through those tough times. God used one of them in particular to teach me things about forgiveness that I didn’t want to learn, but that have enriched my life in more ways than I can count. Since then, I’ve been blessed with opportunities over the years to teach others about forgiveness and I always begin by talking about scars. I point to one or two and review how ragged and painful they once were and how I couldn’t touch them without adding to the pain, but now I can rub all over them and feel no pain at all. Then I tell them that forgiveness is Gods method for turning wounds into scars.
    When they laid Jesus’ body in that tomb, it was torn and bloody and the painful testimony those wounds declared reveals the awful consequences of my sin. But when He walked out, there were only scars.
    Thank you, my treasured Brother, for the blessing this piece is for me this morning, and for the forgiveness I hope you’ll offer for being so late getting to it.

    1. J.D. Wininger

      You NEVER have to apologize for not getting to one of my blog posts Mr. Ron, but I’m always appreciative when my friends make the time to read, share, and comment. Perhaps the greatest honor any writer can attain is being deemed “worthy to be read.” Thank you for that vote of confidence sir. What a great way to help others learn about forgiveness. Getting them is much easier than forgiving them, isn’t it sir? Yes, when we pause to consider how Jesus Christ must have felt when He look upon that broken and beaten shell His Spirit inhabited during His time on earth, oh the sorrow He must have felt, seeing what the human race He created had done to Him. We are surely “blood bought” and we must be prepared to pay with ours gladly for Him. Thank you for your always encouraging words sir. God’s blessings.

  19. I’m so glad, brother JD, that the Lord took all your scars and removed the pain. Forgiveness is indeed the key to healing. I used to tell my students that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies, when it’s actually we who die. It’s comforting to realize that God will bring justice someday–whether on earth or in eternity–for all the wrongs and injustices suffered during our lives. Thank you for your encouragement today. You are such a blessing!

    1. J.D. Wininger

      Me too Ms. Karen. When I consider all that God did for me before I ever came to know Him, I stand in awe of such extravagant love. I also think of how unworthy I am. To know that God will repay makes it easier for us to forgive, that’s for sure ma’am. Thank you!

  20. As someone who let the pain and scars of my past damage my present and rule my future, your message touched me deeply. It was only until I could lay those burdens at the feet of our Lord, was I able to accept His forgiveness and extend forgiveness to those who had hurt me. Thank you, J.D. May God continue to bless your ministry, my friend.

    1. J.D. Wininger

      Oh Ms. Katherine; I’ve only been allowed to view just a small portion of your life, and I have seen the sorrow, suffering, and anguish that God has faced along with you in these past years. As we’re going through these things, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that we aren’t alone with it and that He will bring good from it. Forgiveness, true forgiveness is often harder on us than the person being forgiven. Thank you for sharing your godly heart with us ma’am. God’s blessings.

  21. Jesus kept His scars also , and they remind us of His love that heals our inner scars. May He continue to heal those in each one of us. Thanks for your insights from nature, J.D. They’re great.

    1. J.D. Wininger

      He sure did Ms. Kathy. He can heal all our scars, pains, and fears my friend, that’s for sure and for certain. Thank you so much for commenting and all your encouragement ma’am. God’s blessings.

  22. Oh, I remember that drought well. How many times did I pray for rain to grace the Cross Dubya? I am glad to hear that you have received a good soaking thus far, and I hope the trend continues despite the cracked ground you discovered.
    It is surprising how hard it can be to release pain that has plagued you for years. Maybe because we don’t feel deserving, or we don’t know how to live without it? Whatever the case, it is sinful to hang on to it. Why? Because in essence we are unconsciously saying we don’t believe God can forgive us and release us. Ohhhh, but that’s so far from the truth. Freedom is just a “forgive me” away. God can remove not only the guilt but the shame if we let Him.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. I still haven’t been able to get the garden in, or plow and seed part of the hayfield, or keep up with the lawn mowing, and get some other outside work done. There’s mud everywhere, but you’ll not hear me complain. After months and months of no rain, an overabundance is nothing more than a realignment of things to do. To see things green and lush again, even if it’s weeds that I can’t spray, I am grateful.

      You bring up a good point ma’am. Perhaps we don’t want to release past pains because we are convinced ourselves that we do not deserve to live without that pain in our lives. We’ve heard statements such as, “Into every life, a little rain must fall” or “… there will be troubles” and we precondition our minds to believe that we just have to live with it. That’s not what Christ teaches us. Yes, we will have trials in this life, there will be heartbreak and heartache, we will be burdened; but God doesn’t want us to “live with it.” He wants us to give them to Him and live in the joy of His presence. I love how you reference “freedom”. There is true freedom and liberty in Christ, isn’t there my friend. Thank you and God’s blessings ma’am.

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