It has been a struggle looking for the right words to write here. As we all are aware the internet is awash with many thoughts that only add to the stack of voices already competing for our minds and hearts. I’d rather not write, than contribute to an already multitude of empty words.
The thing about me is that the longer I have been a Christian the more I have found how miserable I am at being one. Christianity is best not thought of as an extracurricular activity. So if we are hoping for a faith which no more than helps us be better more successful people, I’m not so sure you are in the right faith for that. There is a risk of believing with partiality it is that the totality of God’s may actually consume us. It is one thing for God to take from us what we think is bad, but a whole other thing when he wants to take from us what we see as good.
That is this dangerous thing about being an actual person of faith. There is the risk that when the pastor extolls you to give your life to Christ and to follow where ever that he leads you. That you take this words to heart and commit to acting that walk out.
It is not that I fear you do not take that call seriously. I fear that you may actually take that preacher at their word and do whatever it is that the Lord asks of you.
There were a few years when I was driving a truck for a living. I was sold out for God, he was my everything. Things could only get better. It was near that time in my heart I told God. “If you want me to pack a backpack and set off to a place in the world that I would do it.” Now in my mind I had these visions of ministering to people in the Brazilian Rainforest or maybe even Siberia in Russia. Something the likes of Dr. Livingstone into the heart of Africa and everyone would celebrate my returning as a good and faithful servant. Maybe becoming a legend in fact.
Now I doubted God would actually use someone like me. Then if he did, that whatever the calling I would most certainly crush the obstacles. Deep down I believed that with God on my side what could not be done, what miracle could not be delivered? The selfish assumption that if God called me to it, it would only contribute to my stature and not subtract from it.
So one day that call I was asking for, actually came.
It was from a young and troubled girl in a foreign western nation. After praying about the need for a week, I started to pack my back pack with a large heaping of pride and resolute faith. Thinking, for here I am this great spiritual warrior. When empowered by the God of the Universe what plans of the enemy cannot not be undone? What cannot be healed? Who cannot be delivered?
Once getting off the plane, stamping my passport at customs, and wandering through the old hallways of an airport made of nothing but cement. After some phone tag, I met the person God intended for me to minister too. The self illusions in my mind began to dissipate as reality was confronted.
This reality was a shy young shy girl, 90 times bigger in her heart, than the life that she unfortunately was living within. At first meeting, we small talked as we waited for a bus to get a rental car so we could driver back to her home town. With great unconcern I stalled the rental car as I learned to shift with my left hand and soon we were off driving on the wrong side of the road.
The plan was that I would visit for 10 days, do some prayer and ministry work then return back home. Those 10 days turned into a month…. Then at one month I canceled and rescheduled another flight for a total of 3 months…. I left the country on the exact day my visa expired a third of this time was spent walking through grass fields seeking God’s heart. Because time and time again we would hit a roadblock and all my foolishness was worthless compared to the obstacles.
2 years later, when looking back on this experience many of the thoughts I had then are different than they are now. Things I would not have learned if I had not decided to lay my life down and do what I could.
Before meeting this person I was bitter with God about my life. For years I lived in sin and for years I worked to be obedient. But was frustrated with God about how all that I thought was lacking appeared to be so easily obtained for all those living the way I used to live. Truth is, deep down I had some conditions of the heart that were not right. Conditions of the heart that were magnified by this righteous crusade I was on and still linger at times to this day.
When God called me to minister to this individual, what I didn’t realize is that he was using this experience and allowing the Devil to sift me in whatever way he saw fit. For years there were certain parts of my heart that had no outside conditions that demanded a change. Its possible that my heart was incapable of changing in any other way. That is until my heart was what was standing in between another person’s hope for better days.
This is where the rest of this writing is going.
Now you may be wondering about all the details that are omitted in regards to this individual above. To make it brief. I’ve never met such a heartbroken person in my whole life. What was more difficult to absorb is this heart brokenness was for many senseless reasons that were not the survivors fault. Ample reasons, trust that if I told explained further you wouldn’t believe it. Even knowing their complete story it is difficult to fully feel the gravity of the suffering this person endured in their life. As example, even after having lost my mother to cancer at a young age and knowing the grief felt by the loss of a loved one. I’ve cried to the Lord more about this one person than even my dear mother.
You see. I used to think that I was something special in God. Confusing God’s favor of me with something I did or who I was. It was not until I fought for this person above for three years risking all I could spare. Did I realize that I am so much less capable in God than I ever imagined. That is if my plans are not his plans….
It was easy to think that God would do a quick miracle in this person’s life restoring them of all that was lost and I could ride out singing. “Way maker, Miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, My God…”. It was nice to entertain the thought of being on the plane ride back home victorious sitting next to the folks on their way to Disney in Orlando, where I could touch people and say, “Be healed in Jesus Name”. Turning the mile high club over the Atlantic into a 2nd Welsh revival.
The reality is that God decided not to do a quick miracle in this person’s life. It was a long drawn out process, an ongoing one that God has removed me from being involved in. The thing is that this person did not need an instant miracle. What they needed was to be loved. Loved in the way that God would love them, something that I drastically failed at time and time again… To be raised like a daughter. To be taught how to hear God’s voice and turn to him when her heart was in need.
As I look back. It is easy to think that this person needed me. The truth is maybe more so my soul needed this person in my life. Because I was living in denial about the effect my life has on the well being of others. On the ways that I considered money, sexuality, and how to treat others. Having this person in my life broke me in a way unimaginable. Writing this is part of my way of coming to grips with it. This person themselves did not break me. But seeing the depth of carelessness we as humans can have for others did break me.
At one time I thought that human’s are inherently good, but when things get tough our very worst traits come to the surface. I myself am no exception. It is this realization that cut me so deep. Maybe this is why it is so important to be forgive. Because if we were in the shoes of others, could our own behavior always be so different? As people we prioritize keep up appearances to be seen as respectable, sometimes even at to the expense of our own children. As believers we should strive to be vulnerable; living in a way that shows no lack of our helpless dependency on Jesus as our Savior.
There are many things that I have lost on account for this person. Somethings only God will ever know. It was understandable that material things come and go. What surprised me the most was that my respectability was also lost; not because of my wrong doing but because of right doing. My perception of respectability – with family, friends, experts, my own self, and even God are all but washed away. That is what was so difficult. The only one to reassure me of my worth in the end was God, and that is if I could any longer believe how he perceived me.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Recently I was reading a query on Quora. Someone asked, That as a warrior going into battle for the first time, how do people act?” This is not the exact link but the responses are similar to what I remember.
A soldier answered and I paraphrase, “The first time most people are excited, but as soon as the fighting begins all that excitement goes away. Afterwards you begin to see why the more experienced soldiers before a battle just sitting on the ground quietly, smoking cigarettes’, puking their guts out, or some still praying.”
The world would be tell me, you got knocked down; now get back up and strive again. Yes, my pride has been pushing me to bounce back to come back bigger and better than ever before. Just to prove to the Devil that he can strip me bare but in the end he has got nothing on me. Maybe this is possible, but it seems to matter less now.
I think God has me right where he wants me. That is Broken.
This brokenness that has been my companion since the day I was born. A brokenness that is impartial upon who it persists. The brokenness that God used to haunt King Nebuchadnezzar is no different than that which resides in us all still today. Compared to todays standards King Nebuchadnezzar had little reason to differ to another. If brokenness was good enough for King Nebuchadnezzar can it not also be so for us mere mortals?
Daniel 4: 34-37 “For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ … “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
In the end battling spiritually on behalf of others though at times brutal and ugly may very well be a way God reminds us of our own helplessness. So if you may feel that you are in a spiritual battle on behalf of another, I encourage you in the matter. But also want to admonish in the end that God may very well be using it to work on you as well.
The biggest blessing spiritual warfare gives back, is a reminder of why we too needed a savior in the first place. Sometimes the people that we think are much more broken than ourselves are the few who can show us that we are no different. They can be our angels in disguise.
In truth we are all the same, we are all broken people. Broken by the sin of others and by our own, all requiring to be the redemptive work and broken heartedness of the cross. Psalm 51 was written by King David after confessing his sins towards those who were entrusted to him.
Psalm 51: 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.