Keep in mind, I won't be sharing with you the specifics of anyone's story other than my own. However, I can tell you a few things that each situation has taught me in the hope that you might gain as well:
- Extremely backward situations can point people forward: The pain caused from a broken marriage can teach others about why God doesn't want us to end up there... the loss of death can help unbelievers realize that the reason they feel "it shouldn't be this way" is because it shouldn't be this way, and God knows it and didn't originally design it that way... the bottoming out of a feeling or an addiction or a habit doesn't have to have the final say, for perhaps in such moments we become desperate enough to get back on track.
Isn't it odd how we accept that the ultimate evil - crucifying God - can bring about the ultimate good - His glory and our transformation/salvation - and yet we forget that the broken situation in our lives or someone around us can be used for really, really, really good things, too? Withhold your judgment and give grace, for in such space God has been known to transform murdering abusers named Saul into redemptive Christ-followers renamed Paul.
- A twisted ankle hurts for more than a day, especially when you watch the Olympics, but push-ups aren't so bad. I mean what I write by that, and I also mean to say that I have been itching to get back to the gym since the Olympics have started. There is something about seeing what other people are capable of that compels us to ask about our own potential. And yet sometimes we feel limited by our own twists and hurts that we wonder if it's worth doing anything.
Personally, I've found that I can still do push-ups... and so the question is if I will. You know what I mean? Sometimes when we can't live the full novel we figure why bother attempting a paragraph. And yet doesn't it all start with that? A single word or thought that suddenly propels you into the great adventure?
What is that push-up in your life right now? The thing that you can do even with a hurting throb in your life?
- You have the freedom to crash your car into an intersection, but it affects more people than you. It's time to stop using the idea of "being ourselves" as an excuse to keep doing what we're doing that is destructive... it's time to start "becoming ourselves," which means we have another step to take with Jesus Christ. I must take mine today, and you must take yours today, too.
- Profanity is only useful when it is rarely used, and led by God. This week the Lord invited me to swear... I'm not kidding you, it blew my mind. I had to double check with Him in the midst of the moment to discover He'd really given me a green light on it and was urging me forward. (Maybe that sounds a bit formal, but I decided to give God my life some years ago and my language was one of the hardest parts... and yet it seems to be one of the more critical parts that since then He seems to be using)
Anyway, I was in a moment where someone needed to know that God desires messy prayers instead of academic ones - ever struggle with that? So I was given the holy nudge to share a rather profound prayer I heard a teenager pray once involving a certain word that gives movies R-ratings. The room erupted with embarrassment, and yet it paved the way for someone to feel comfortable praying out loud on behalf of the matter we were addressing.
I had the same leading from God to use the same word a few months ago when someone told me they "slept" with someone and had moved on. The Lord prompted me again to use the profane term and the impact of me saying it to paint a clearer picture of the difference between His picture of sex versus a lesser version of it... and something tells me that difference is etched in that person's brain with greater distinction.
Keep in mind I'm not advocating profanity - in fact, quite the opposite. If I used it often I have the sense that the "profane" part of it would get lost in its repetition. Rather, I'm challenging you to let God have your tongue... and to not be surprised if He occasionally calls you to use what we consider unclean (because it probably is) to share something "clean."
Speaking of which, last week's post really triggered something interesting on this. I can't tell you how many people I've spoken with this week who found it "comforting" to know I struggle with swearing in anger like anyone might. Again, though - may God have our tongues.
- Sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many, or the one. Yeah - I know... that's a loose quote from the Star Trek movies. And yet this week I found myself seeing how valuable it was to put down the papers I was working on for my Sunday message and simply "BE" the Church to the group of people I was around. It meant that we didn't have bulletins to hand out on Sunday, because I couldn't get to printing them... and yet something tells me it was better to be fully-present for people in the name of Jesus instead of having something to hand people that tells them God loves them.
- Our lives are not meant to avoid trouble, but to cause "the best kind of trouble" - the trouble that forces us to care about the people we say we care about, even if they don't want us to. This will require courage, which (for the record) is not the absence of fear—it's moving beyond it and inspiring others to do the same. At times you will need to lead others from the front, but never so far ahead that you leave them behind... and at other times, you will lead from the back so that others can experience (perhaps for the first time) what it means to feel in front. I think this why I like the phrase "servant-leader" - because both are needed, but one comes before the other.
Oh... and quitting is leading someone, too. What have you quit on? How is that leading others around you?
Chew on all that a bit with me, and please share your thoughts - maybe even your own "one week/7 days" lesson so that I might gain from you, too.