When I read the Bible, I sometimes come away confused.
Confused because I think that if I was THERE, living out the life of one of the people whose name is recorded on the pages - someone like Peter, or John - that I would be able to bring the story to greater heights and far more effectiveness.
Because I would GET IT.
See I have this tendency to look over the shoulder of someone like John and mutter, "you idiot. How can you see Jesus do these things over and over and still be so stoooopid. If I was there, I'd be putting up some parchment posters "Come see the Messiah. Bring the hurt, the injured, the broken-hearted. Their time has come."
I'd make it happen, because I can add. One dead son restored to his Mom = Son of God active RIGHT NOW! or one guy running around naked as a jaybird, cutting himself and throwing himself into the fire, meets Jesus, becomes whole, is healed = Messiah IS HERE - RIGHT NOW! FOLLOW HIM! LEAVE YOUR OLD LIFE AND COME! NOW!
Yeah, if I was there, I'd straighten those guys out. Cause I KNOW.
Well here's where I fall before God this morning, pleading for mercy and grace.
and yet, I am silent...
far too often.
I assume, or pretend, or (to put the best possible spin on) I hope that the person with me at that moment knows.
Then we pick up the paper and turn to the obits, and read their name.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Christ have mercy.
Here are some lyrics from the late Mark Heard, a fellow Maconite who understood.
There's an oasis in the heat of the day
There's a fire in the chill of night
A turnabout in circumstance makes each a hell in its own right
I've been boxed-in in the lowlands, in the canyons that think
I've been pushed to the brink of the precipice and dared not to blink
I've been confounded in the whirlwind of what-if's and dreams
I've been burned by the turning of the wind back upon my own flames
Knock the scales from my eyes
Knock the words from my lungs
I want to cry out
It's on the tip of my tongue
Speak words of hope into lives of quiet desperation. Tell of the One who gave you life - again. Let them know there is another path away from selfishness and greed toward sacrifice and significance.
Remember beloved, it's only good news if they hear it in time.
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