Thursday, February 27, 2014

That which sustains

Dr. Martin Luther King, in a very moving recording titled a knock at midnight, discusses his source of strength in the midst of intense persecution...
(watch the video, he is much better at preaching than I!)

Persecution.. Pain.. Heartache.. Sorrow.. Loss.. Love.. Joy.. Freedom.

All elements of every human life. And yet, we are encouraged and expected to press on, live life fully, as unaffected by these elements as we can so that we endure to the end.... And then we die... 

I suppose that is the basic idea. I know that when I was not yet a christian that was my idea. I really didn't know the purpose or the logic of living with trauma and heartache other than getting through day by day acting unscathed...

And then I became a christian, and my thoughts changed to live life fully so that I could give glory to God, share my hope with others, and spend eternity with Jesus. But still, the concept of pressing on unscathed was in the back of my mind... since my thoughts didn't change about my situation, now was I to pretend I wasn't hurting, or wounded, or angry?

In the book Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, there is a passage which was a fresh reminder to me of the challenges we face...
So if Gods first move is to give us our identity, then the devils first move is to throw that identity into question. Identity is like a lip of a spool of thread, which, when pulled, can unwind the whole thing.
This brings me back to Dr. King - That which sustains... Gods promises that he will be with us to the end of the age... Never alone.

Back to the truth of scripture, that God is a keep about you, with you in the midst. That you are HIS, and that since he calls you by name, he will not leave you. Christs triumph over death on the cross which provides us with the ability to face even death with hope. 

There is a sunday school song on my mind now, a silly little kids song with some amazing depth of theology: I have a river of life flowing out of me... makes the lame to walk and the blind to see... opens prison doors sets the captives free... I've got a river of life flowing out of me...
We have to live like we believe this. This is what sustains. Not physical strength, nor money, nor power, nor any other human thing. Our identity in Christ and the truth of his resurrection power.

When we live like this, we will find joy and hope in each day, no matter the circumstance.

(thanks to Dr Paul Metzger for presenting this theme at the PDX Justice Conference 2014, and to Nadia Bolz-Weber for writing such a profound book)

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