Some close friends of mine, who I get together with every other week, are in the habit of asking regularly for a “feelings check in”. It sounds lame or girly or overly touchy feely, but I can assure it’s not. We are learning to glimpse what is happening in our hearts by the way we respond to people and circumstances. My anxiety or weariness or hyperactivity or rage or belly laughter all reflect something true about the condition of my heart, what I believe about myself, what I genuinely believe about the person and work of Jesus and about the world.
On Friday, if you will please excuse the embarrassing crassness of the expression (Mom, you did raise me better and I won’t say it “out loud”), my FCI was “pissed off”. The bank, who is supposed to be giving us our loan for a home in a “distressed neighborhood”, is just acting redonkulous. I have affectionately named it Uncle Laban for the unpredictable new requirements that come each day before we may close. (One of my favorites from last week was that the nasty carpet, which we pulled back to discover beautiful hardwood floors, must be re-stapled to the floor so that we may get our loan.) Then, on top of that stuff, the disconnections between people just seemed to be everywhere and more the rule for relationships around me than genuine intimacy and connectedness. I had just had enough of things not going the way I thought they should and looking quite different than my Gospel imagination envisions redemption in all things.
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:49-54
I realized yesterday in church that I am exactly like Peter. I just want to chop off some ears and fight for Jesus, but I don’t really understand Who He is or what He is doing. I’m quick to deny Him right after I’ve drawn my sword for Him because I’m still living in externals, looking to the tangible, wanting the victory in the moment and totally forgetting I’m in the middle of a far more epic tale than can be captured in one scene. The impatience, panic and agitation I feel with things not going as I would script them is because I don’t remember, trust or even really believe they are going precisely by His script. I refuse to believe that even the momentary disconnect has redemptive value and will not be settled simply by my beating someone up about it. The Scriptures will be fulfilled, and all things will be made new. Harmony and unity will be restored in relationships both between one person and another and with God. Creation will not only be restored, but will be better than Eden, revealing it as merely a shadow of better things to come. Do I really believe this? Do I really trust that He will do this? While my mind says “yes”, my impatient and agitated heart exposes a different state of my faith. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
Will I trust Jesus, even in the seasons of dying, uprooting, killing, tearing down, weeping, mourning, scattering, refraining, giving up, throwing away, tearing, silence, hatred, war and toil? Will I put away my sword, deeply believing that only by His person and work, through the Holy Spirit, will the season of birth, planting, healing, building, laughing, dancing, gathering, embracing, searching, keeping, mending, speaking, loving, peace and rest reveal the beauty of God’s recreation in His people and all aspects of the environment? Oh might I become more carried away with Him than with being a soldier in His army. May I believe more deeply and genuinely that the One who calls me is faithful, and He will do it.
The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23