The other night I was out at dinner with two friends. They had met before but didn’t really know the other. I have journeyed with both, hearing their stories of heartbreak, listening as past wounds were shared. I knew that their stories shared a similar theme. Both had been violated by someone who should have been trusted, someone who professed a faith in God, someone who was tasked with being a protector. Yet the abject horror had occurred. Lives so young were ineradicably changed. Deep wounds were formed, and those wounds were costly.
Then the other day I was listening to a speaker talk about healing. What would it look like to to not only have a heart healed, but for it to be so restored it was like the hurt never happened? As I listened to her share, how I longed for this to be reality. That Jesus could enter into a life and bring about a complete and utter transformation. Yet this is exactly what He promises. I think of the woman at the well, who set down her water jug and ran into the village that most likely ridiculed her to tell of her experience with this man. Or as I read about the Prodigal son and the Father’s loving embrace of running to the wayward son with nothing but grace, forgiveness, and acceptance. I can only imagine what that embrace felt like after the experience of being far off.
How I long for that sort of restoration in the lives of those around me. I have watched how those deep moves have moved these women to different paths. Paths of destruction, paths of self discovery, paths of healing, paths of hope. But most of all I am confident that there is a path to restoration but it isn’t always easy. I also long for this for myself. To be so free from a broken heart it is like it never happened. To be enveloped in my Heavenly Father’s love that I can boldly move out and love others with a generous love that is without equal.
How many people do we approach daily that we look past? We each have our own desires and agenda. At times, I fear I look at those around me as means to fulfill that desire or my agenda. But what happens when I look in? Look into someone’s eyes, heart, and really listen. Listen to the pain, brokenness, longings. What if those moments are one of touch, taste, and sounds of the Gospel.
What if I look with the eyes of Jesus, what will I see: delight, unconditional love, home?
May I look in to discover what he might have and find out what I miss when I just look past.
A broad question for sure but one that has such opportunity. In R. Thomas Ashbrook’s book Mansions of the Heart he says “We cannot lead others where we ourselves have not yet been.” in speaking of spiritual leadership. On Sunday, Richard Dahlstrom spoke on the text of James 1. I loved the way he talked of trials increasing our capacity to display Christ.
These two comments together continue to have me thinking where have I been? Am I allowing the redemptive work of God to mold me and transform me? I think my heart wants to to just run from pain, hurt, and trials. Yet isn’t through those experiences that I have been transformed and refined. That as I engage with others in their journey that I can come alongside of them to just be there. Oh I have so far to go in this path but how I have appreciated those who have been to places that I am being lead to that can offer hope for the road ahead. Also who can accept the tears as they come as along the journey.
Where have you been? For I imagine there are those around you that would love your authentic story and heart to be with them as they journey forward and come behind.
Here is a blog I follow of a man I deeply respect. I love his words, his courage and most of all the way his challenges us to a surrendered life that brings about restoration. I hope you enjoy his words as well.
The train platform was chaotic. A woman on a cell phone sprinted past me screaming, “someone do something!” I noticed an odd sight then. Normally a few over-anxious commuters stare down the track in the direction of the pending train, willing its arrival. However, this time every person had their head turned, body bent in that direction. There on the tracks at the end of the platform was a man, his head on one rail, and his feet on the other. His hands were folded behind his neck, like he was in a hammock on a lazy afternoon. But this was 6:30am, and he was waiting to die.
The crowd held their breath, frozen in place. I began to walk toward the man, watching the tracks beyond him. When I got to the end of the platform, he was still about 20 feet away, so I nudged someone next to…
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Heart trembling I breathed deeply as I exited my car and headed for the door. Just walking those couple of feet to the door my heart increased in trepidation. I know something of fear and overcoming as I have sought out risk before but this day it was the constant companion. I am not sure if that is getting older and wiser or well just plain older. But here I was, at the door, ready for a two-hour class.
As I walked into the building I come face to face with a large net and the trapeze bar hanging there, inviting, taunting and beckoning me to come over. A few instructions and one practice on the ground and then the belt goes on. Really? That is all it takes to climb the rope ladder up to the second story to jump. Yup. A safety harness that pretty much looks like just a wide belt around my waist with a few hooks and I am set to fly.
My turn comes and I hesitantly begin the climb. Wow this is more fear inducing than I thought. I breathe…you can do this. I focus on just the inhale and exhale and then I get there. That tiny little platform hung by ropes that I am to stand on. Whew I made it. I saw those before me but there is something about having to reach out and grab that tiny little bar that sends shivers down my spine. I mentally check off…I am attached to a harness, I have the instructor pulling my weight back so I won’t fall, I have a large net below that will catch me, I have another instructor holding the rope and yet every fiber in my being is screaming….ARE YOU CRAZY! You want me to jump? But then it comes the call…1, 2, 3 Huah!
Somehow the legs just won’t do it. I panic…..regroup. Okay ready. 1, 2, 3 Huah! Off I go….hanging by the bar. I hear the commands to swing my legs up…they won’t go. Goodness this is challenging. They finally find their way around the bar. Then the hands…letting go. Getting ready for the next move. Hands back on the bar, legs undone and now the back flip. 1, 2, 3 let go!! I effortlessly do a flip! WOW! That was amazing. I land in the net and just breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Then reality hits I am doing this again. So I wait my turn and with each next attempt the fear climbs right back up into my body and I wrestle it to the ground and let go. My novice attempts at flying keep me tackling the fear that screams at me to stay on the ground. But if I never let go I wouldn’t be able to fly.
“So, who are missional people? They are the individuals committed to forming their character and lifestyle after those of Christ and who are compelled to live out their faith in the context of a community.” The Tangible Kingdom
The first lap was just the usual characters running around the lake. I desperately tried to keep up with the pace that was set but quickly fell behind. Nothing new as I am used to running solo but I so wanted to continue in relationship and conversation with the women I have been getting to know. I mean it is a little hard to be a reflection of Christ to others when you are no where in proximity.
The second lap I was determined. I set my mind on the fact that I would have to push my body to the limit and just keep my legs moving. Thankfully one of the girls was feeling a little under the weather so the paced eased up just enough for me to hang it there. Quickly the conversation turned to catching up as I hadn’t seen Cate in some time. Life was full, busy and good. Both of the women were in relationships and sharing about what they were experiencing and feeling. A big decision was being made and I listened as she unfolded some of her fears and some of her excitement. Thankfully when you are grasping to catch your breath adding words to the conversation is not very easy so all I could do was listen.
As we rounded the second mile talk continued about what it means to self sacrificing and giving to others. How we have each experienced that both positively and where at times that has fallen short. I don’t know if anything significant happened as we came to the end of the run but I was glad I was able to stay in it. To not only stay with their pace but also to enter into their lives and listen to the stories.
I may not agree with all the choices but I am continuing to reflect and think about the above statement of what it looks like to reflect Jesus to others around me. All I know for sure is that I can listen and I can care about these women and what burdens they carry and have on their hearts. I keep praying for these conversations to deepen but for now I will continue to try to come alongside others in this community and ask Jesus to shine through me.