Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where never is heard...

Will all those who love to complain please stand up. OK, now that we know who you are, please sit down.
A plague has been loosed on the church; a plague of complainers and complaint. Doubt, discouragement and their firstborn, complaint, are a drain on the spirit of the church and a barrier to the Spirit. It is easy, O so easy to fall into the pit of complaint and self pity. I have done this, over and over again, and paid a price more than I wished to afford.
With the death of my father, my first stepfather, then my second stepfather, I found myself, like the prophet Jeremiah, up to my armpits in the muck at the bottom in a well of dispair. Unlike Jeremiah who was put into the well, I went to the well by my own will. Go figure. Anger with God over the deaths of these men...in spite of fervent prayers for healing...left me doubting and railing against God; not just in word, spoken and written (pages of pointedly angry poetry) but also in deed. Indeed, there was a better way but I did not take it.
You may have noticed that I refer to the third chapter of the epistle of John because of the nine times the words "believe, believes, or believed" appear in these 36 verses. John is writing; three times Christ says "believe:" three times He says "believes" and once he says, "believed." The final verse...and the last time this chapter speaks of belief reads..."He/she who believes in the Son of man has everlasting life; and he.she who does not believe the Son of man shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him," (Genderized pro bono.)
Is it as simple as John 3 makes it sound? If the Bible is the Word of God and if seven of these words are red-lettered, the answer has to come from the mouth of God; and it is "Yes!" But the issues of life don't feel easy because they are not. Life seldom feels easy, especially today, as our son (even now) is having his fifth back surgery. (Pray for Bernie and the surgeons). I believe that God grieves for us as we grieve for those we love who come under the merciless assaults of the devil.
In the sum of life's difficult, abstract, and very real experiences, there is the pain and joy of birth, growing pains literal and spiritual, and the pains of loss; part or all.  Each of us knows too much about these issues. As a church the Bible exhorts us to "...lift up the hands that hang down..."
John has more to say in his first letter; words I have memorized and use to remind myself, others, and God. First John 5:13..."These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may [contine to] believe in the name of the Son of God."
Take time today to read John chapter three and 1st John chapter five. Underline, circle, or highlite every time you encounter the words "believe, believes, or believed", then ask God to implant the joy of His Spirit in the hearts and minds of His church, His people, and there will never be heard a discouraging word.
"And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." [Isaiah 9:6]
Blessings in His Name. e.c..

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