I realize “God works in mysterious ways,” is not found in Scripture, but I think the point is made there. You can read from Genesis to Revelation and see mysteries unfold and not unfold as they carry into our existential questions today. I don’t have to mention the death, burial and resurrection for you to get what I mean. If that’s not a mystery to humans then I don’t know what is. I’m glad it is a mystery because I think if we truly grasped the fact that Jesus’ blood was essential for our salvation I don’t think we could stomach it in our pre-eternal state. Obviously that’s just a theory. I accept by faith that the Son was virgin born, lived here for 33 years, and died a very painful death, but was raised on the third day before He ascended back to be with the Father where He later sent the Holy Spirit that inspires me to write these words. People continue to lay down their lives because they refuse to deny that reality. There are actually more martyrs now than there was in the first century. That’s mind boggling to think about. It makes me think about the Pauline verse that says, “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” It also makes me think about this Jim Elliot quote.
He is not fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
Jim Elliot ended up fulfilling those words in the 1950s when he was speared to death my the Auca Indians in Ecuador. His widow and the late Elisabeth Elliot wrote and spoke many times and in many places about their experience there. It’s a remarkable story. Satan continues to try to fill our hearts with fear as those who reject Jesus and His teaching strive to snuff out the message of the Gospel.
I’m actually really glad this semantic about love has been underscored in the past few decades. Christianity has always had people who perverted Christ’s love to advance their own agenda, but sometimes unbelievers have cloaked love in a veil of tolerance to allow what God has spoken against. The church has no doubt hurt and driven away many people, but the church continues to be Jesus’ hands and feet to the world even when there are those who miss Jesus’ purpose by a mile. The church if made up of people, and people continue to sin as they will till judgement day. And judgement day will come. We shy away from judgement language because there’s a plethora of people among us who think judging someone is the worst thing you can do. I’ve always been fond of saying I will not volunteer to get up on the throne if the Father needs to take a break on judgement day, and I stand by that, but when you don’t warn someone they are headed down a wrong path what does that say about the way you love them? Love doesn’t mean you gloss over the wrong others do, but neither does it mean you cry wolf every time someone messes up. It’s a paradox just like so many things in life. If a cop in Nashville pulled every single person he/she saw speeding they’d never be able to catch the really “bad” guys. That’s probably a bad example, but my point is that those who do not believe in absolutes absolutely believe that.
I have strong beliefs rooted in what Jesus the Christ established in the first century. I’ve believed in those things from day one. Day one was when I made a choice to be a life long follower of Jesus. I received the gift of the Holy Spirit when I made that choice, and I learned later that the same Spirit intercedes for me with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8).
That’s another mystery I don’t understand, but I’ve seen it’s influence for many years.
As Christians we’ve come to be known as “intolerant” conservatives who hate. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve met and interacted with “Christians” like that, and I’ve received their “love.” It’s not love. It’s hate. My best moments are filthy rags compared to the righteousness the blood of Jesus gives me. I am not pure or right standing because of my best moments. I am pure and right standing because of the blood of Christ even in the midst of my sin. I turn to Him again and again because like David I long to be a man after God’s own heart. My sin and human failings are many, but when I turn to the One who knit me together in my mother’s womb I am made whole every time I turn back to Him. I believe that with all my heart. I struggle with hate. I have anger management issues because of the clinical depression I fight. That’s not a secret. I’ve blogged about it since blogging because a thing. By the grace of God there have been angels around me in the worst of moments who have guarded me and those I’ve been with to keep me from crossing the line, but in all actuality I cross the line the minute the thought enters my mind.
Scripture memorization is vital in this struggle. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had life overwhelm them at some point. I don’t care how neat and tidy your Instagram feed and story are. You have either had tough stuff happen, or you’ve been to rock bottom like me. Do not make light of the suffering you’ve had to endure. Don’t compare your suffering to someone else’s pain because you must grieve the loss you have to endure. Suffering makes us stronger. Don’t try to avoid it, but don’t seek it out either. When pain knocks you have to answer because not answering is living in denial, and when you pretend like a bad thing didn’t happen it prolongs the process. Nothing good can come from it. I can only imagine the pain and regret the Apostles went through as they decided what to do with Judas’ body, and then the conversation they had about replacing him. That must have been torture, especially for Peter, as he grieved his flat out lies he told three different times! Time doesn’t heal all wounds either. Those who have passed away can sometimes control us from the grave, so just because you buried someone doesn’t mean the pain they caused is buried. God can bury it. The impossible with us is possible with God. How many times in Scripture have you read where the humans doubted, but God showed up? How many times in your own life did you doubt or refuse to believe, but God showed up?
All of us have been lied to, rejected, made fun of, bullied, and some of us have been verbally attacked, physically attacked and made to feel worthless. All of those things were done to Jesus, but he trusted the Father to deliver him, and He did. He’s asked us to trust the Father with that same unwavering dependence.
All of that sounds fine and good, but sometimes when the rubber meets the road we can’t see the hand in front of our faces, and I’ve been there, oh I’ve been there. It hurts like hell. There’s no other way to put it. I’ve cried till I didn’t have a tear left to shed. I’ve been so angry I can see how people commit murder. I’ve been so afraid I didn’t leave the house for days. Every morning I have two bowel movements before I leave the house because of my anxiety. I pray frequently that the Father will touch my central nervous system to calm my heart, my lungs and my digestive system. He frequently does, and I don’t go to the bathroom once before I get to my first stop.
He’s real. He’s active. He’s loving. He’s a Father Who longs for His children to call Him Daddy, and the greatest mystery of all is that He draws near me as if I were the only child on the planet.
I pray you come to know Him.