During times of trouble….perspective is important.
YOUR CROSS / YOUR REALITY
Thirty-nine years and eleven months.
That is the amount of time my father was afforded on this earth before his untimely death back in 1989. Actually, it was quite timely considering he always said “God won’t let me make it to 40”. But because these were words that were interlaced with thousands of rants over his 12 year mental and emotional struggle dating back to 1977, none of us took it all that seriously. Now those words are forever imprinted on the hearts of all that loved and knew him, especially me as the then teenage son that bore his name. That was the moment where every person started to matter to me.
But why would anyone care about my personal story? They have their own lives to live without burning cognitive cycles pondering the testimony of some writer they have never met and probably never will. The reason my story is important is because your story is equally important. When you peel back the layers of our political, social, or world views you eventually get to what ultimately drives us. Our story.
When my dad said God wouldn’t let him make it to 40 I heard two words….God and 40. If that’s what God had in store for my dad then what did he have in store for me? Was I too destined to perish before my 40th birthday? These are not the questions of someone thinking rationally. But they are the questions of a young man dealing with the fact that his father was just found hanging from a tree in the backwoods of his hometown. In the late 80s we were not yet in the era of using anti-depressants was the dominate way to deal with trauma so I was in a ‘deal with it or it deals with you’ scenario. But the long and short of my story is I spent many years blaming my dad for betraying his responsibility to us by taking his own life and my mom for not seeing it coming. Finally, I blamed God for allowing it to happen. All equally irrational conclusions.
Some 33 years later during a period of great strife and even greater unknowns we need words that bring hope because for so many the ‘cross’ they bear feels just as weighty today as it did the day it first occurred.
Isn’t it safe to say I have no idea who you are? Even for the few of you that I have had a chance to meet in person it’s still a true statement that I don’t really know you. The opposite is also true. Virtual friendships by their very nature make it nearly impossible to get to the point of something that is real between two individuals. This is why attacking is so easy for some because the losses are as vapor as the relationships itself was from the very beginning.
Often at great penalty I have extended a hand to those who on the surface didn’t appear to deserve it. Why are you dining at the table of sinners?
The obvious answer is because the alternative is we all dine alone.
I guess when Matthew and Luke said ‘bless and do good to those that spitefully use you’ that we should just assume that was a deliberate exaggeration on their part?
For all the lip service paid to the Bible, Jesus, and his examples there sure does seem to be a penalty that comes from following them.
This whole idea of existing within certain camps is about the dumbest idea I could ever possibly conceive. But you don’t understand RtS, there are infiltrators and we have to deal with them. For the love of all that is good, Jesus dined with Peter and Judas and he already knew what both of them were up to and he still dined with them. Do we really think we’re keeping out the infiltrators by blocking or shutting them down? Give me a break. Besides, the real infiltrators won’t arrive wielding a sword. Those virtual sword swingers are no threat whatsoever. They are the CNN of infiltrators. Obvious, dumb, and obnoxious…..eventually chopping off their own head.
Sometimes people show up and it appears they are only there to cause trouble. Don’t mistake that person with the person that adamantly and passionately disagrees with you…..perhaps to the point of anger. They are two VERY different people perhaps disguised as the same person. The first is there to anger you….the second is just angry.
What could be worse than feeling as though you were betrayed? Perhaps feeling as though you were the betrayer? Both still carry a burden.
As the one who was betrayed our flesh tells us to turn and walk away but the spirit says forgive. In fact, God says He will ‘remember our sins no more’. He IS NOT the forgive but don’t forget God.
And for the betrayer the flesh says ‘your actions are justified because they deserved it’ but the spirit says own your sin and profess it to the one you betrayed.
You see, both the betrayed and betrayer are in need of forgiveness and grace.
As a believer, it’s my job to make sure they know it is available.
Your seat at the everlasting feast will never be based on your worthiness of an invite.
It will be based on the immeasurable worth of the one that invited you.
Are you seated at His table? Because if you are, then it doesn’t really matter who else is sitting there. They have a story too and their story is every bit as important to them as your story is to you.
Your very existence is a miracle. Believe it.
Only God could make it possible that a man whose dad hung himself from a tree could find peace from a man nailed to one. Peace be with you.
Poignant to the point of tears.
Thank you for sharing such a personal insight and thus lifting us all to our place at the table.
Richard, thank you for sharing a little piece of your story. I too lost my father to a deep depression episode culminating in his willing himself to die after after a long manic phase. My brother and his daughter (who I am raising because he is unable and her mom is unwilling) both suffer with depression.
As a sister in Christ Jesus, I would love to invite you to our table to dine. We are in the mountains of north central WV, so if your travels take you through this neck of the woods, we will literally leave a light on for you. Peace and love brother...Mara