Sometimes I think I’m not supposed to hurt, that things aren’t supposed to trouble me, so I often don’t allow people to see the hurts I endure. A misunderstanding, an unkind word, a hateful deed: We simply hide them in our sock drawer and move along. Who would care anyway? What would it matter? There are bigger crimes, bigger hurts, louder tears. But every time I open the sock drawer, there they are. I slam it shut and scream in my mind, “Who would care?!” And I answer my question with cynicism, “Who? Like, a human?”
A friend said to me today, “It’s okay, I’m not afraid of tears. You can talk.” Ah! He may not be afraid of tears, but God knows I am. I struggle to regain composure and try to speak without squeaking … or sobbing. I ask if we can talk later and hang up the phone. Buried consequences rise in my throat like a tidal wave and my body trembles under the weight of grief, sorrow, misunderstanding and shame.
We were not meant for sin or grief; we were not meant to hurt. Hurt comes from sin, and sin is something far more spiritually connected than we could ever imagine, connected through insidious forces we can neither see nor touch, let alone understand. And when it makes its way into the human soul it can hardly be rectified without a bigger and more authoritative Spiritual Power.
My eyes fall on Mark 1:23-28. Jesus had just healed the demon-possessed man. In those days, demon possession was a very widespread thing and had many Jewish legends and folklore attached to it. One noted historian, Harnack said, “The whole earth was a living hell.” We really don’t see that kind of widespread demon possession today, and that’s not the focus of my note; however, what I came to realize about the demon-possessed man is that he knew he was possessed. Jesus could not cure him unless he admitted his trouble. I think that’s why the story is in the Bible. We must assume the reality of our disease before we can ask for a cure.
I open my sock drawer once again, and there are the hurts buried among the mis-matched. I place them on the dresser and slowly expose them to Jesus. Through tears and sobs, I admit the pain, the sin, the grief and the sorrow. Slowly they fade and I am renewed and strengthened by His power. And I realize that it isn’t the responsibility of any one person to meet us in these places. When we assume that man should do what only God can do then we put man before God and we will always be disappointed.
“Who would care?” I answer my question now with assurance. My eyes fill with tears, but these are tears of joy which come from a new sense of maturity and hope. Jesus cares, and Jesus stands ready to cure the heart that admits the disease.
Lord, thank you for allowing me to give you these things which hurt so deeply. I share them with you because you understand with great depth and clarity and you offer comfort with abundant mercy and loving-kindness. My hope is in you and my heart is strengthened by your love. My cup is full to overflowing with this joy. Jesus, take me and use me as your light to shine your glory. I love you, Lord.
Abide With Me (MP Jones)
4 Comments | tags: disease, grief, hope, hurt, Jesus, joy, mercy, shame, sorrow | posted in One Bright Hour, Prayer
I have become less enamored with church. We are part of a small, home church community, and even that has been less than satisfactory. What I’ve come to realize is that nothing is perfect this side of Heaven. And by perfect I mean complete. The church itself is a walk of sanctification. As a body moves when the joints and members move with it, it can also be hindered when the joints and members are hindered. Interestingly, as we physically age, our joints and members cooperate less if we fail to exercise and eat well. Hence, the church. Unforeseen problems occur. Frustration ensues. People don’t cooperate. We begin to see that Advil temporarily cures the body’s ailment just as a powerful Bible study or a featured speaker cures the church. Yet this is the place where my faith has increased ten-fold; where God has exposed Truth in such a profound and uncanny way that one cannot deny the existence of the Spirit among the brethren.
So my admiration moves out of the church as an institution, to church as a living movement of the Holy Trinity working in accordance with the Believers for the cause of God’s everlasting kingdom.
I no longer walk away saying, “Wow, Pastor Edward had a great message today,” I now walk away saying, “Wow, God’s Word is alive and working in my life and the lives of my brothers and sisters.” I now admire, cherish and expose the work of the Holy Spirit among us. Becoming less-enamored with institutionalized church is a higher call of the mature Believer as long as we reposition our admiration on God and His work in the body of believers we call church.
But that can sometimes be tricky. People are part of the church, and I find that agape and phileo love is increasingly difficult. When Holy Truth is exposed it comes with itself a particular level of responsibility. I call it the responsibility of joy: and that is love. What’s not to love about our church members? Ah, when they challenge our teachings; when they don’t respect our work; when they question God; when they refuse to think outside the box; when they exchange the magnificent for the trivial, and so on. And then I realize it’s ME with the problem. I blindly enter into these relationships with a certain level of expectation, and when my expectations aren’t met, I grow increasingly weary of the individual. Foolishness sets in and my heart is hardened; no love can penetrate; the humbleness of the Holy Spirit is my only cure. Time begs a response. I have a choice to ignore or–-once again-–be sanctified by Truth. Hebrews 12:4-6 is a bitter but hopeful reminder.
Of these things I find that intimacy with Christ and living missionally is the cure–-at least for me. And that means I must intentionally spend time getting to know my Savior through His walk, His teachings, His expectations and His commands. Then I must share this Truth with others with no worldly expectation. As a matter of fact, my only expectation in sharing Truth is persecution–for we are truly savages in our core. In serving, evangelizing or teaching, I nearly expect a savage response! Anything above that is God’s full and complete Glory. None of it belongs to me. And sanctification has its fulfillment in God’s glory when we not only recognize that truth, but live for it.
Joy has its rewards, but it also carries with it a higher level of responsibility than we might ordinarily be comfortable with. Sadly, most people would rather settle for a complicated and shallow life of worldly happiness.
Father, may I be your servant who is enamored by you alone, understands the responsibility of joy and willingly shares these precious Truths with the brethren and savages alike. Save me from my worldly desires which ultimately rob me of joy. My dear Heavenly Father, draw me closer still.
5 Comments | tags: Bible study, body of believers, church, home church, joy, missions | posted in Missional