Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

July 10, 2004


Alright, I think if I don't "get happy" pretty soon I'm going to exhaust poor Lucy's patience and lose her as a reader (and I need all the readers I can get!). She wrote this in response to a string of comments t'other day:
Jesus did not come to fill our lives with happiness, but he gives us a joy amidst our sufferings. Does no one here experience joy because of Jesus?

And I think that's an excellent question. I went to a church for a long time where I heard each and every Sunday that I was nothing but a worm. A dung beetle, in fact. Like this one, perhaps:

An old friend of mine used to call it "worm theology," but even that term does not go far enough in describing this man's preaching. He method was, first degrade them, and only then will they really know how much they need the Lord! The pastor took evident delight in detailed comparison of us (that is, the members of his congregation) to the above Scarab Deltochilum gibbosum. How very uplifting!

So when I broke free of that church--and that's exactly what it felt like: breaking free--I was definitely looking for "the joy of the Lord." That pastor probably said I was looking for a feel good-I'm okay/you're okay-easy believism theology. To which I can only respond: Whatever!

So, yeah. Joy, the joy of the Lord, and springs of refreshing, and the Spirit poured out, and the blessed safety of the Christian . . . there are so many ways to speak of it because it's such a wide place, this place of faith.

You have not handed me over to the enemy, but have set my feet in a spacious place. Psalm 31:8

I never want to lose sight of all that. And in Psalms like this one as in so many others David never loses sight of these two realities of our present condition. Yes, he is hard-pressed on every side, he's skin and bones, he's surrounded by stampeding bulls, forsaken by friends, etc., but also, God's love is absolutely reliable. None of these dangers and hardships can ever truly separate him, as Paul would say so many years later, from the love that is in Christ Jesus. And I am safe too, because that same God, the living God, the God of David, loves me.

Springs in the desert, but desert between the springs. I think that real maturity in the Lord involves keeping both these truths in mind. That there will certainly be dark times, but that joy comes in the morning. There will be valleys of shadow, but keep walking because God is with you, an ever-present help, to protect and comfort. To bring you through. I want to concur with my reader Elizabeth that life can be awfully damn hard, and I also want to concur with my reader Lucy that joy is real, and real joy connects us with eternal things, and it lifts us up, and it is beautiful.

A lot has to do with keeping the context, the big picture, in mind. To know, with David, where your help comes from. So it's good, therefore, to surround ourselves with people and things that remind us of eternal things. Which reminds me of Lucy, and Elizabeth, and all the others, and the many Bloggers that keep refreshing me from day to day. They're springs of refreshing!

For example, yesterday there was a beguiling harmony to everything I read in my Internet browsing. There was this, from Henri Nouwen:

Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?" When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.

Jesus is God's wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus' suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

And this from Jack Hayford:

There is a force—a power—in Jesus’ own suffering to break the ability of pain, injury, or sorrow to dominate us, even when these things seem to persist beyond prayer. Christ’s suffering has the power to absorb the most hellish attack, the most tragic grief, the most traumatic pain, or whatever seems more than we can bear.

Jesus has broken the ability of suffering to reduce us to bitterness or disobedience. He wants to fill us with the same life that brought Him through suffering, that kept Him from growing weary in well doing.

And finally there was this quote from Warren Wiersbe, which I found over at Hill Country Thoughts:

When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is: we need to recover our lost perspective on life. Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life's dimension adjusted again.

Vision. Perspective. The big picture. Arching over history, over the darkness and the light, over the deserts and fragrant gardens, over the one no less than the other, the tireless love of God for His creation. Us. Now. Forever.


Blogger sparrow's song said...

(bouncing over from Paul's place)

*applause* I was a captive audience member.

I am slightly amused at the pastor's condemning method in order to help eveyone see their need for a Savior. Christ Himself said that He came not to condemn, but to save. Okay, so we all have to see our need for the Savior, coming probably to the end of ourselves before do so. But once we're in Christ, what is the need of dragging us through the muck and the mire numerous more times?

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

John 3:17
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
A pleasure to meet u.

7:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home