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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hit Me Where It Hurts

It goes without saying that I daily battle with sin in my life, a battle that sometimes it seems I am winning and others where I am a complete failure. But here lately, I have especially felt a renewed sense of solemnity, a shaking out of my slumber, a soberness from being jaded. It is as though a layer of callousness has peeled off my heart, and the fresh exposure to the elements has caused heightened sensitivity to what I feel, what I think, how I act, etc. With prolonged introspection and self-examination, I believe that there are times where, well, it just hurts. It hurts to see how much I screw things up. It hurts that I let others down, especially those whom I claim to love. It hurts to think of how much I have displeased my heavenly Father. The prodigal was in the pig pen when the father was grieving, and so often I find myself the one who seems to squander the inheritance on selfish living, only to find myself with the stench of dung as proof of such wasted living. There have been three people tonight that I have been thinking about in particular - three people who sinned terribly and felt with freshness and heaviness the consequences of such actions. First, I have thought of David, and Psalm 32 and 51 comes to my mind. What was it like to be in his shoes when Nathan told him the story and said, "You are the man!"? What feelings of shame, guilt, failure, humiliation, embarrassment he must have had! He was not living in obscurity. He was king of Israel. When he said, "My bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long," what was that like? This was real to David. If I were him and were in his shoes, how would such a thing take a toll on me? Yet David was "a man after God's own heart." Then I thought of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. The religious leaders brought her in the public to be condemned and stoned to death (whether or not she was truly guilty of adultery we do not know, but assuming the charges were true). Laying there on that dusty road, what was going through her head? When she saw the stones being clasped by the hands of "righteous men", how did she feel? When she saw Jesus writing in the sand, did she lift up her head? And when she heard those words, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin nor more," how did those words change her life? The answer to these questions we can only speculate, yet is it possible to feel with intensity, with authenticity the hurt and the anguish that she felt? Finally, I was led to Peter - the man who was first to volunteer for everything. A go-getter of sorts, never lacking in words, fervent in spirit, and ready to take a stand when it was necessary. Sure, the disciples looked to him as the leader of the pack, the one with all the answers, most deserving to be honored, mostly likely to succeed, and so on. The confession that he made turned out to be his greatest tragedy. "I will never fall away," Peter said. Yet three times he denied Jesus. Of all people you'd expect to stand firm and stick it out, understand what Jesus was saying, and be there for Jesus, with Jesus to the end, failed miserably. The Gospels said that Peter "went out and wept bitterly" after the third denial. From a distance, when Peter's eyes were arrested by the glance of Jesus, what trembling he must have felt?! Weeping bitterly? What is that like? How would it feel to be in Peter's shoes? And then later, after the resurrection to hear those words repeated the same number of times he denied him, "Peter, do you love Me?" How he must have hung his head in shame. How he must have remembered the tear-stained garments and scabs on his heart being ripped off. Unbearable so it seems. So discouraged. Utter disappointment. Yet in just days ahead, this same Peter preached the first sermon at Pentecost and 3000 people were saved. And then I look at myself and the hurt I feel inside. I am so thankful that the Bible puts on display such men who were "failures that the Father used." Sometimes I want to just give up, because I don't want to hurt/embarrass God anymore. I don't want to be a disappointment to Him who paid such a price to save me. Though I may try to turn a deaf ear, I hear those words, "Tim, do you love Me?" I lift up my eyes, not just to hear the thud of stones hitting the ground, but a father who has come running, brining an embrace. When Paul called himself the "foremost (chief) of sinners", certainly that was not a bragging line. When he humbly makes such a confession, how he must have recalled the murdering of Christians in the past, looking down at his hands, and knowing that these were the weapons that "persecuted Jesus". Paul felt the hurt as well. In all of this, I realize that Christians from all ages have been hit where it hurts. I don't want to be hit where I am callous; I want to he hit where it hurts. For there I experience being shattered by the seriousness of my sin, shaken out of my slumber, sobered up to "so great a salvation", and set apart for the Master's use. So the solemnity settles in. I am feeling it, and I don't want to just get up and go on. I want to know how David felt, how the woman felt, how Peter felt, how Paul felt. As though I was there, as though you were here. I have been hit where it hurts. Yet Jesus takes this wounded soul to be his earthen vessel, a simple clay pot, cracked at times, but prayerfully pliable in his hands. May the hurt bring the softening of this clay that the Potter may be pleased to shape it for his delight.


Blogger Jimmy said...

Thank you for this. It's encouraging. I have been in a place of discouragement lately... I know that I am sinful, that I fail. And to know that I am accompanied here by David and Peter!

6/23/2005 12:19:00 PM

Anonymous trae said...

" For there I shattered by the seriousness of my sin, shaken out of my slumber, sobered up to "so great a salvation", and set apart for the Master's use."

Thank you for this.. This is someing you cannot ignore, sobering and encouraging.I wish I could say this everyday.

6/24/2005 12:14:00 PM

Anonymous Brad said...

Bro Timmy,
Trae told me to come here and read this posting. I know exactly what you mean by that. I used to not know. I regret a lot of stuff that I used to do, and the way I used to look at life. It hurts me to "know" the life and who Jesus is, but the whole entire time, I have no knowledge of Him as a friend and as a companion. When His love came to me and Hit me like a ton of bricks, I looked at my sin and how Holy God is and all I could do is weep. Weeping laying on my bed around 3 in the morning. Wishing I wouldnt have wasted that much of my life and thinking about how many people that could have been reached b/c I was in God's Will. Anyway, I am going to go now, I dont want to bore you, but It is amazing how when God hits you where it hurts you feel it and know where it comes from, and how you are so caputured by the grace that God gives that all you can do is Lay at Jesus' feet and ask forgiveness.

6/26/2005 08:12:00 PM


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