Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole that was behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.
In the house, his mother was looking out the window. She saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, and made a U-turn to swim to his mother.
It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him.
From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms, just as the alligator snatched his legs! That began a very incredible tug-of-war between the two.
The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go.
A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the alligator.
Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. On his arms, there were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.
The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma asked the boy if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. Then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go.”
Why would this mother scar her son? Because she loved him. Why would her son be glad she scarred him? Because he knew it was because she loved him. If it were not for the mother scarring her son, then he would have surely died.
Sometimes we need to be scarred by others. Sometimes we are in a spiritually dangerous situation and need others to help us – even if the way they help hurts at the time. The Bible tells us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov 27:6). Those who love us will be willing to scar us to save us.
The same is also true in reverse. We must love others enough to be willing to scar them to save them. Unfortunately, others may not always appreciate the wounds; but we can know that we wounded them out of love, and we can know that the Lord knows our motive.
While scars are not always pleasant to give or receive, they can be better than the alternative.