8th June 2013

God Looks On The Heart 

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
1Samuel 16:7 (NIV) 

As I was watching the funeral of Baroness Thatcher one of the guests caught my attention. Simon Weston was just 20 on 9 June 1982 and he was on RFA Sir Galahad in Port Pleasant, just off the Falkland Islands, when it was bombed and set on fire by Argentine Skyhawk fighters during the Bluff Cove Air attacks. The ship was carrying ammunition, including phosphoric bombs, and thousands of gallons of diesel and petrol. Out of his platoon of 30 men, 22 were killed. The Welsh Guards lost a total of 48 men killed and 97 wounded aboard the Sir Galahad. Simon survived with 49% burns and 12% cuts, following which his face was barely recognizable. 

Simon endured years of reconstructive surgery, including over 70 major operations or surgical procedures, including using skin from his shoulders to make eyelids, and skin from his buttocks to form a new nose. During this time he suffered psychological trauma, began drinking heavily and at one point became suicidal; but he credits his mother with helping him get through this period. 

I remember watching a TV programme about his progress in hospital, and what came through was his courage, his matter-of-fact acceptance of what had happened to him, and his strong determination to fight back to life. Part of the programme included Simon’s mother simply chatting with him about the normal things of life—what to eat and family birthdays. Although she saw the scarred face and the burnt body, she was looking through that to the real person underneath who was still her son. Whatever had changed, his true identity hadn’t. She knew the real Simon and loved him, which I’m sure is why he valued her helping him through those difficult times. 

All of this made me think that life scars all of us. The trauma and pain of this world means that we scarcely look as if we were made in God’s image. And yet he loves us. He sees beneath the surface to the real person, who needs so much comfort, strength and healing. No matter what we look like, we are accepted in Christ. In the process of dying for us, “there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14) and yet, “by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Let’s praise God that through the glory of his grace “he has accepted us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). 

Prayer
Father, thank you that you look beyond my outward appearance, have healed my heart and have accepted me because of the saving work of your Son.
Amen
 

Study by Barry Robinson

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barryrobinsonAbout the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Camberwell
LONDON
SE5 7HN

Meeting time:
Saturday 10:30 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email:  barry_robinson@wcg.org.uk

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