Weary Part II

I’m still weary. Only this time it’s a different kind of weariness.

I’m weary of violence and hatred seeming to always have the upper hand. It’s not a matter of guns or no guns, knifes or no knifes. It’s a matter of what lies within the unredeemed human heart when it gets its own way. You don’t overcome hatred by more hatred (even if it’s a different kind of hatred). Only love– God’s love– overcomes and conquers hate.

I’m weary of impatience wherever I find it, especially within my own heart. I know from personal experience that good things truly come to those who wait, yet it still goes against those ingrained instincts and that voice that always wants to have what it wants now.

I’m weary of the constant overload of information and the dearth of true wisdom. We have so much more knowledge now than we’ve ever had in our history, yet we seem so much more foolish than ever before in our choices and our character.

I’m weary of my own continual reluctance to trust God in the every day business of living. He’s never steered me wrong, yet I am still slow to listen and hesitant to take Him at His word when He does speak.

I’m weary of believers who try too much to look like the lost world they’re trying to save. What makes Christians attractive is not how much like everybody else we are but how different we are (hopefully in a good and loving way and not in a harsh and condemning way). I’m most weary of the fact that most of the time I’m too good at being incognito in my faith.

I’m thankful that all these things that are so tiresome are not the end of the story. The end is victory and overcoming and rest. Just as Jesus sat down at God’s right hand after His atoning work was finished, so shall we all finally find rest after Jesus comes back to redeem and restore history and humanity.

 

 

Praying for Orlando

I, like so many of you, was horrified by what I saw on my social media feed. a gunman murdered 50 people in a night club early this morning.

Regardless of your stance on the LBGTQ community, we should all mourn the devastating loss of life. No one should celebrate when someone else dies. Ever.

Remember, each one of these victims was someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, ¬†aunt or uncle. More than that, each was an individual created in the image of God and therefore possessing inherent value. Each was someone Jesus willingly went to the cross and died for.

I’m praying for the families of these victims tonight. I’m praying that God can take what was meant for pure evil and turn it into something good. I know that in God’s plan, tragedy and loss will not have the last word. God’s story never ends with ashes.

I read a post that said that those that died got what they deserved because of their lifestyles. All I know is that I wouldn’t want to get what I deserve based on some of the choices I’ve made in the past. I don’t want karma. I want and desperately need grace.

Hatred cannot overcome hatred. Only love can do that. Only the love of God as expressed in the person of Jesus can do that. Only a kind of love that was willing to lay down its life for enemies can do that.

In response to so much senseless tragedy and horror, I say, “Come, Lord Jesus, come. Only You have the power to set things right again and to wipe away the tears from every eye and to vanquish evil and hate and the lies once and for all. Only you can make a happy ending out of so much sadness. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

 

Throwing Rocks

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I’ve been tryin’ to get down
to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore” (Don Henley).

Kairos was fantastic as usual tonight. Amy Jo Girardier spoke on forgiveness, which probably is something that doesn’t come easy to any of us. Especially those who carry the scars of wounds and words from those who were supposed to nourish and protect.

For some reason, I thought about the scene from Forrest Gump where Jenny is throwing rocks at her old house. It’s the place where her own father abused her for years, where all her woundedness came from. After she throws the last rock, she collapses on the ground into weeping. Forrest Gump say a line which I think is the best line in the whole movie: “Sometimes there aren’t enough rocks.”

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Unforgiveness is like carrying rocks. You visualize confronting the person or persons who cut you with their words, who betrayed your trust, who let you down, who deserted you in your time of need, who feigned friendship while sticking the knife in your back. You imagine what it would be like to use the rocks to wound them like they wounded you.

It seems like the natural thing to do. You have every right to be angry, to hurt, to want justice– even revenge.

But maybe what God is calling you to do is to take those rocks and build an altar. On that altar, you sacrifice your right to be angry. You give up expecting that the person can fix what they did to you. You let go of hatred and of wishing them harm. Instead you learn to pray for them and even eventually love them.

Then you realize you’re not the only one wounded. The person who hurt you was acting out of his own woundedness. He’s continuing the cycle of violence, of cutting words, of lashing out, because it’s all he knows.

Forgiveness breaks the cycle. Forgiveness opens the door of the prison of hate and anger and bitterness and the person who walks out is you. You are the one set free when you choose to forgive.

rocks

One of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis deals with forgiveness and the high cost that comes with it:

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – How can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘Forgive our trespasses¬†as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”

Forgiveness is hard, but in my experience, not forgiving and carrying the weight and burden of all that anger, bitterness, and hurt is harder.

altar

To Be Liked or To Not Be Liked. . . That Is the Question

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I have given this a lot of thought. Probably too much, given my tendency to way overthink matters. But here goes.

I’ve decided that it is just too much work to hate anyone. To spend all that time concentrating negative emotions on one person and letting that person dictate your life is tiring. Just thinking about hating someone is enough to make me want to lie down until the feeling passes.

I also believe that life is too short to spend it disliking anyone. I know this opinion is probably one I hold by myself and I don’t ask you to agree with it, but I’m standing firm on this one. You may not get along with every single person, but you can choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them grace, because if you haven’t already needed it from someone else, you will one day. I guarantee it.

You have the perfect right not to like me. You don’t even have to have a valid reason for it. It’s your choice and right as an American. You may not like my personality. I may rub you the wrong way. I may occasionally say and do (without realizing it) really dumb stuff that turns you off.

It’s your privilege as a human. It is also my privilege to not return the dislike. It is my calling as a believer to show kindness and the love of Jesus to you. It’s my calling in Christ to pray for you daily and to wish you nothing but the very best.

Sometimes relationships go wrong, whether in the workplace or in social settings or anywhere else, and you will never be able to put them right again. You will always wonder what might have been. But just because that person has vanished from off your radar screen doesn’t mean they’ve vanished from God’s. He still knows where they are and what they’re going through.

So I have a list of people I’m praying for who will probably never know it. That’s okay. I only pray they find a true peace that passes understanding and a lasting joy that nothing can take away. I pray they find Jesus to be more desirable than anything else in this world.

And I wish them nothing but the very best.