Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Small Heart ......

A Prayer about “Formerly Useless People” and My Small Heart - Accordingly, although I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) Philemon 8-11Dear Lord Jesus, what great stories these few verses tell—how one man’s “useless” slave became another man’s beloved son; an imprisoned apostle loves as the freest of all men; redemption trumps anger; failure gives way to faith. Stories like this make the gospel beautiful and believable. I see myself as both Onesimus and Philemon, and I want to love more like Paul.Jesus, I’m a lot like Onesimus. I’m a rebel. I’m a runner. I want freedom on my terms. I thank you for not giving up on me—for coming after me when I was running away from you as fast as I could, just like Onesimus ran from Philemon.Overtly and covertly, I did everything I could to avoid you and ignore you. But you came after me; you found me; you bound me to your heart through the cords of the gospel, and slowly but surely, you’re changing me. The journey from slavery to sonship hasn’t always been easy. Sometimes I feel like it’s three steps forward and two steps backwards.Jesus, I also know what it’s like to be Philemon. I’ve been failed and I’ve been hurt. I’ve been betrayed and suffered loss. I’ve been used and played for a fool. But forgive me for labeling anyone as useless. There is simply no such thing as a worthless, useless image bearer of God. Help me forgive those who have harmed me, intentionally or otherwise. May your beauty trump my bitterness—your redemption rout my resentment.Jesus, I want to love like Paul. Paul saw something in Onesimus that Philemon didn’t see. Jesus, you saw something in me that no one else saw. Please give me your gospel eyes to see what you see in others—especially in people who disappoint me or bail on me.Who have I branded “useless,” with either my actual words or unspoken words? Who have I written off? Who have I renamed “failure,” “worthless,” “you’ll never amount to anything,” “you’re never to be trusted again”? Whose failure stories do I love to retell as a way of paying them back? Have mercy on me, Lord.I know you’re calling me to be wise, but I also know you’re calling me to love others as you love me. Many times and certain people, I simply do not want to love with gospel love. Forgive me and free me. For none of us is beyond the need of your grace and none of us is beyond the reach of your grace. Jesus, give me a much bigger heart. So very Amen I pray, in your chain-breaking slave-freeing name. -- Scotty Smith

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