just a note from a jerk in church

Posted: March 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Yesterday at the end of a powerful and compelling message at church, my pastor paused the music to say that perhaps some of us needed to pray for the “gift of tears.”

He had been challenging us to pray a dangerous prayer:  Ruin me.  This business of asking for the gift of tears was, as I understood it, about letting our hearts be broken for those who hurt, who are oppressed by poverty, who don’t know Jesus.  Letting Him give us His heart for those people.  Coming down off the frosty freezer shelf of our own preoccupied selfishness and caring for others – to the point of tears.

What a good idea.

Know what happened next?

I turned into a jerk. 

It immediately crossed my mind that there were almost certainly people in who would hear this urging to pray for the gift of tears as an invitation to feel sorry for themselves.  I mean, I didn’t have any specific people in mind.  (At least I’m not THAT much of an ass!)  But still…my pastor invited us to pray for the gift of tears, and my first reaction was to assume that someone in the room might be wallowing in self-pity…and to judge the snot out of them, unknown as they were to me. 

What a jerk.  What an ass.  What an arrogant windbag.  Really!  Why does God put up with me?  I often wonder in all seriousness why He hasn’t squashed me with great cosmic flyswatter. 

But here’s how I know God is not people, and is certainly not me:  He didn’t just not squash me.  He went further – he spoke to me with great gentleness, and a proportion of grace and mercy out of all measure as compared to what I was offering to the imaginary self-pity-ers in my head.

He reminded me.

Reminded me that well before I came to the place of embracing being broken for the broken…that’s where I was.  Selfish.  That’s how I know to guess that someone in the room is probably taking license to just flat out feel sorry for themselves – for a long time, that someone would have been me. 

Oh.  Yeah.

And then, even greater in His gentleness, grace and mercy…He didn’t just leave me there to be horrified at my own awfulness or to fall into a pit of despondent repentence.

“Maybe they need the tears of their own failure,” He told me, “to be able to one day sincerely weep for the failure of another.  Maybe those selfish beginnings can even be used for My work of redemption.” 

In other words, without saying, “Duh, Karen…,” He basically said, “Maybe they are like YOU.”

And instead of beating me up with that…instead, He invited me to pray.  To be the intercessor He has called me to be.  To lift up the broken, who maybe are too defeated right now to even lift their eyes up and hope for healing.  To lift up the people who don’t have it in themselves – YET – to cry for anyone but themselves. 

You know, people just like I was…before I grew up and became just an arrogant, judgmental ass.

Sometimes the old praise song, sung across generations of believers since the beginning, is especially sweet:

O praise the LORD, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.

  1. Linda says:

    wow my friend, that is powerful….remember the CD by Kathy? well listen to song number 4, that’s the one I told I wanted to be like, but I was actually more like number 5….both fit right along with this blog. HE LOVES US STILL WITH A STUBBORN LOVE!!

  2. karen says:

    I hear you, Linda! AMEN

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