When I was growing up under conservative evangelicalism, it seemed everyone was always in a rush:
“The return of Christ is imminent! Jesus could appear at any moment! The fields are white for harvest! It’s time to get busy! There are millions of people all around us who have never heard the name of Jesus! They are destined for HELL! We have to reach as many as we can before time is up!!! We have to get our kids on the front lines! If you aren’t preaching from the tabletops in the cafeteria, YOU ARE DEAD TO THE URGENCY OF CHRIST’S CALLING!!!”
If you were grieving, you had to ‘get over it.’ If you were wounded, you had to suck it up. If you were ill-equipped, you had to ‘fake it till you make it.’ If you were sick, you got two prayers at the altar and then plenty of shaming for not having the faith to be healed instantly. People were dying and burning in endless torment. There wasn’t time to bear the burdens of the faithful!
True, Jesus commanded his followers to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). And, true, the Bible says that man’s life is like a vapor that appears for a short while and then vanishes (James 4:14). But in that tiny span of existence, God created seasons that we’re meant to experience and encounter Christ in new ways:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Right now, I find myself in a time to heal. It’s not a place I’m accustomed to being. I mentioned a few weeks back that Jesus “broke my legs,” forcing me to drop the burdens I had been carrying for years. Burdens I was not meant to carry. Burdens that had robbed me of peace, joy and innocence. Burdens that had left me internally scarred and deeply wounded. My life came to screeching halt, and I was rendered incapable of doing…well…much of anything. At least not as much as I usually do. It’s been infuriating.
One of the things Jesus told me to do was just sit and listen to Him. So I’ve been trying to do that. But when I do, I don’t seem to hear anything.
“Jesus, speak to me. Give me direction for my life.” Nothing.
“Jesus, let me hear your voice.” Silence.
“Jesus, what do you want me to do?”
“I want you to heal.”
“What about the ministry you’ve called me to? Did I just imagine that?”
“For now, just heal.”
“Surely you want me to do something. Lead another devotional at work? Food for the homeless?”
“My church is fasting this month. I should be fasting and praying, too.”
“Be quiet before me and heal.”
It’s hard. It’s hard because this situation goes against everything that was ingrained into me by years of Churchianity. Believers are always supposed to be doing something. And didn’t Jesus show us in the gospels that healing is a 5-second process?
But here I am. With a Savior who has broken my legs, shut my mouth and tied my hands. Here He is again, leading me away from the crowd with the pat answers and the scripted doctrine, down this path that is new and uncomfortable and revelatory and freeing. The shattered legs are beginning to heal, but it may be a while before I run again.
“You said you wanted to know me. Here I am.”
Hi April, happy new year!! How about these two:
Abide in me, and I in you. (…abide…)
Elijah, finding God in the “little whispering sound…” at which he hid his face in his cloak.
If you want to hear little whispering sounds you must be very still.
(((Aprill))) from JC thank you so much for the post …(those are hugs, btw 😀 )
A wonderful and powerful thought; thanks for sharing. (((JC)))…Hugs right back at you. 🙂
thank you, the article and the true happiness rays began to warm hearts, when we share it with sincerity. Greetings from Gede Prama 🙂
My message when I was brought to my bed was, “Be still and know that I AM God” –learning to hear and respond to that I AM was an amazing journey. I know your time quiet time with God will be just as amazing. My body never recovered, my I was healed of all that negative childhood input and that was a wondrous experience. To know you are the beloved, is beyond any price, a gift beyond measure.
This is so beautiful, April. What a beautiful place to be at in God right now.
In conservative evangelicalism, if the “sudden return of Jesus” was not already an issue, they would have had to invent it. Come to think of it. They did invent it.
When your entire view of the Christian faith is focused only on evangelism and nothing else (which it unfortunately is for many of those people), any trick to get people to rush the front of the church at altar call is necessary, “Jesus may come back any second!! No, he’s at the front door right now!!!”
The thing they never tell you, especially if you are an ordinary Southern Baptist, is that the SBC Office in Nashville collects altar call statistics—and the more a pastor can get people to rush to the altar—the higher HIS statistics—the higher the statistics—the more likely the SBC BIGSHOTS will notice you—then one day a phone call comes: “Brother John. We been keeping a close eye on you here at the convention, and we believe you have what it takes to be a BIG MAN ON CAMPUS here at SBC Headquarters. We got an office ready for you, so you get that pretty little wife of yours all packed up and head on down here to Nashvile. The pastor says: “Finally Jen!!! We get to leave this dump [their church], and we will now have enough money to buy that hot tub!!!”
Can you tell I’m cynical?
Wow, I didn’t know about altar call stats. That’s just…crazy.