It's pivotal and crucial! I'm talking about how I live as a follower of Jesus. I'm talking about the church before the watching world. (And, believe it, the world is watching those who claim to follow Jesus and looking for REAL! AND looking for the kind of radical love Jesus has and calls us to!) In the "Christian world" there often seem to be two choices: living by rules and law OR living in the nebulous Land of Whatever which we may mistakenly call grace..
The word Jesus stuck in my throat like an elephant tusk; no matter how hard I choked, I couldn't hack it out. Those who professed the name commanded my pity and wrath. As a university professor, I tired of students who seemed to believe that "knowing Jesus" meant knowing little else. Christians in particular were bad readers, always seizing opportunities to insert a Bible verse into a conversation with the same point as a punctuation mark: to end it rather than deepen it. ....
Then, one ordinary day, I came to Jesus, openhanded and naked. In this war of worldviews, Ken was there. Floy was there. The church that had been praying for me for years was there. Jesus triumphed. And I was a broken mess. Conversion was a train wreck. I did not want to lose everything that I loved. But the voice of God sang a sanguine love song in the rubble of my world. I weakly believed that if Jesus could conquer death, he could make right my world. I drank, tentatively at first, then passionately, of the solace of the Holy Spirit. I rested in private peace, then community, and today in the shelter of a covenant family, where one calls me "wife" and many call me "mother."
I have not forgotten the blood Jesus surrendered for this life.
And my former life lurks in the edges of my heart, shiny and still like a knife.
WOW! I know enough theology to know that the Holy Spirit is Who drew Rosaria to Jesus like a moth to the flame and even more surely. But, I am struck by the rest of the story. Like a moth to the flame Rosaria was also drawn to Jesus by the marks of Jesus she saw in Ken and Floy and other followers of Jesus who stepped into her life for just such a time as this.
The radical restoration of Rosaria's heart is a work ONLY God can do but he does use you and me in the process. If we fall down on the side of rules and law, we don't show Rosaria the kind of love Jesus has for her. He takes us just as we are - crippled, lame, blind, deaf and all the rest - especially broken messes!
What Rosaria saw in Ken, Floy and others was NOT rules and law NOR was it the Land of Whatever! It was true grace lived out in radical love!
I love this story! It doesn't matter if it's true. Actually it is typical of most US Marines I have known. It SHOULD be typical of any heart where Jesus lives!
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the pat...ient's eyes opened.
Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.
The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.
Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.
Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her, "Who was that man?" he asked.
The nurse was startled, "He was your father," she answered.
"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in my life."
"Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?"
"I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His Son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this Gentleman's Name? "
The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, "Mr. William Grey........."
Comfort zones are for pushing - pushing to be and do the MOST needed thing whenever and wherever we can!
I went to bed weary - very weary - last night --- so weary that I pondered what was wrong. Was it a very busy day? Yep, you betcha! That's pretty much what all my days are. As I pondered I thought of this phrase: Catch me if You can!
Just about every day I blast off to a day that is full and demanding. Do I look over my shoulder as I hurry on my way and shout to God, Catch me if You can! ???
Tucked in one of my favorite devotional books - Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman - is a great quote from which the title is taken:
Thank you, God for weary days, when desert streams were dry. That's when we
learned the depths of need Your love could satisfy. Thanks for the rest in You,
the weary only know--the perfect, wondrous sympathy, that we must learn below.
The touch that heals the broken heart is never felt above. The angels know His
blessedness; His way-worn saints, His love (Streams in the Desert).
On the weary days when I'm a bona fide way-worn saint, shouting over my shoulder - Catch me if You can - as I blast off, what my weary heart and body need MOST is to know His love!And His love is as close as my next breath!His love will surround me in the blast off and the journey! What I need most is to rest in that love as I hurry on my way!