Friday, April 25, 2014

The Struggle

For the first time since Jonathan left us I am alone.  Pam and Dani drove to Iowa this week, and Christian remains on his adventure in India.  I was excited that Pam and Dani were getting away, and I know they are having a great time visiting with Pam's Dad on the family farm.  I was, however, unprepared for the agony of seeing them pull out of the driveway.

Even with my girls home I have felt utterly alone many times over the last two months.  But never more so than in this moment.  "Loneliness" is just one of the many complex feelings, thoughts and attitudes that have become part of my new reality.

As I have begun to return to the ministry God has given me, I cannot help but see things through this new lens.  And, I had feared that looking through that new lens I would have a tendency to compare other people's problems to the enormity of losing my son.  I feared that I would begin to see the issues people so often face in life -- the struggling marriage or the addiction -- as trivial.

Instead, I have found that my heart aches in even greater measure when I see people in these types of struggles.  So often the struggles people go through in life are self-inflicted and avoidable.  And, invariably there is collateral damage -- the parents, brothers and sisters, children and friends who must suffer as well.  Part of the tragedy is that life just doesn't have to be that way.

I have certainly done my share of self-inflicted damage over the course of my lifetime, so my purpose in saying this is not to criticize people or their struggles.  EVERYONE makes mistakes from time to time.  No one is perfect.

But I also wonder sometimes how it is possible that despite being people who love God and who are filled with the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves in the midst of such self-inflicted pain with pretty much the same frequency as our secular counterparts?  In other words, as a group I am not sure that we avoid self-inflicted agony any better than nonbelievers.

Part of the reason for this no doubt is explained by the fact that as Christians we are just as inundated as anyone else by the culture of this world.  It is a culture that largely strains toward a new heaven called "happiness" and that worships a new god called "self."  And, in such a world self-inflicted crisis is inevitable.

But part of the problem, I fear, is that the church too has allowed itself to be inundated by the culture.  The "Christian culture," I fear, too closely mirrors the culture at large.  We, I fear, are far too concerned with promoting the individual happiness and individual rights of the people God called us to shepherd.

At the end of the day, I am persuaded that many of the problems that we face as Christians exist because, though "Christians," we have never actually made the commitment to follow Christ.  In fact, our refusal to lay down our lives and truly follow Jesus not only leads us to self-inflicted wounds in this life, but just might have severe consequences in the next.

Are YOU Following Jesus? Click Here!

God bless you my friends!  And thank you again for your incredible friendship, support, encouragement and prayers!!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a true word from God for us, Pastor John! Thank you for being precise in sharing this word, and may we
all sincerely reflect on it and make the correct decision!

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