I thought about lesson planing this morning. Here I am 5:30 am on Easter Sunday, “wrestling the angel” like Jacob. On Good Friday Jesus touched my heart-and revealed to me that I was holding back-or rather holding out. Walled up. I did and do not want to deal with the pain and shame in my life from my past. He told me to write about it. That it might help others. Mostly as a way to let Him into the place even I don’t want to go-not even with Him.
Some people receive instant healing. Some churches expect that. ( I heard Joyce Meyers once say that while it does happen that way, people whom God heals slowly grow more from the experience).Or they try to tell victims to shush, it is all in the past, Jesus is with you so buck up. Pain and struggle is weakness, A moment of doubt apostasy.
I have been a bitter, excuse laden, victim mentality believer. I felt so inferior with my ADHD and other problems that I cursed the world for rejecting me-and the church too. I wanted to rebel and become a radical Christian with purple hair and scripture tattoos. Thankfully I didn’t-not that it would be wrong to go purple, just that it really isn’t me.
Now as I sit here typing I am struck with the thought that life is good, life is hard, life has pain-for everyone. No one’s life or childhood was or is perfect. We live on earth, sin’s fallout zone. Then I think of Jesus-before even the cross-willing to come to this place. Leaving the safety of heaven, all it’s beauty and glory where sin and evil is not allowed, to come to a dusty small town which was in a region with a bad reputation. Willing to deal with the everyday rudeness and insensitivites of the human race in all it’s forms. Subjected to earthly, imperfect parents telling the God of the universe in human form what to do. Willing to bare all the trials and tribulations of being human: having to work by the sweat of His brow, loosing loved ones, being lonely at times even among friends, being hungry and thirst and tired and ill. He dealt with being misunderstood, falsely accused, persecuted for righteousness by jealous on lookers, being betrayed and deserted by His friends. The list goes on-and that is before the cross.
I would have stayed at home quiet frankly. I guess I have been. Unlike Jesus I don’t have heaven (yet). I have Him, yes, but he seems to find pain a necessary part of the human condition( what would heaven be for anyway if life down here was perfect?) I don’t like that. So I have walls. More like a swirly labyrinth where I reside in the middle. Jesus does not blow the trumpet like Joshua an the priests at the walls of Jericho. He patiently makes His way through the maze, meeting me behind the walls, helping me dismantle them. Like Adam and Eve I hide in plain sight of the Lord, ineffectively covering my shame and nakedness. Only God can do that. Yet letting Him in is painful at times. I don’t like pain. Not one bit. I am reminded of Job, who was faithful to God and suffered great loss:
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Yet I have.
It is OK to ask questions, to say to Jesus things like why? Where were you? How can I trust you when you let bad things happen? I have stayed in that place for years now. I am tired. There is another place. A place of acceptance and peace. A place that says I am sorry for questioning you Jesus. You know what you are doing. You will use this for good. I am sorry for not trusting you. A place where you realize life is both wonderful and awful and so very temporary. Pain and joy are part of the process. You can’t run away from either. Jesus didn’t.
The you realize your pain is not unique. Everyone has past hurts and no one’s life is perfect, It does not invalidate your experience to acknowledge that. I think sometimes we feel so invisible, we have been so discredited that we are tempted to cling to our issues too tightly so no on else can trample them. Be prepared however, to be trampled a bit. No one is perfect and people will step on your toes, even knock you flat-some unintentionally, some intentionally. I have stepped on people too, pushed them aside or out of the way, dismissed them. I am a sinner. I live on a planet with sinners. Should I be surprised then that life is often difficult? To quote Job again Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
So what is the point of all this?
Jesus came down to earth and didn’t just restrain wrath or tolerate us. He loved us. Completely. Accepting pain means accepting love, Being willing to confront our own weakness, to see others as equally imperfect and choosing to love them anyway can be difficult. We can let imperfect people in even if they might hurt us, because Jesus is with us. We can let our hands down, stop trying to make everyone happy, stop trying to make our little world safe and cozy and conflict free. That’s where true love lives. Outside of the illusion of easy and safety, on the road to Calvary with Jesus, who loved a sinful world so much He gave His life for them-for you, and for me. Letting down your guard, letting yourself be loved unconditionally can seem frighting at first. Exposing. Jesus wants only to cover your nakedness. I am preaching to myself.
“Perfect Love cast out fear, for fear is of punishment.” 1 John
Lord, help us to draw near to you, even when it is painful, scary, or uncomfortable. I thank you that you are patient with us. As we learn to stop trying to be perfect, or in control, knowing we cannot hide anything from you, cast out fear. Perfect us in love, and in doing so, teach us to love others with your love. Help us keep our eyes on you, being willing to loose all we think we have, learning to trust solely in you. In you we live and move and have our being. Help us to see that you are worth risking everything for. Your boundless love is a pearl of great price. Amen.