(The latest iPod Devotional. Check it every Monday at theFish.com)
One of my failed career bits was as a disc jockey at 1000 watt powerhouse WCHI in Chillicothe, Ohio. This was back in the days of turntables and actual vinyl records. I got to pick my own playlist that was mainly Top-40 pop. Unfortunately my playlist was often influenced by my emotional state. I didn’t even realize I was doing that until a friend pointed out that I had played a whole set of depressing, losing at love songs on that day. So I would play B.J.Thomas singing “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” followed by “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” from the Bee Gees followed by “She’s Gone” by Hall and Oates. I might as well have gone to commercial with “I’ll be jumping off the broadcast tower right after this”. Not sure the sponsors (except maybe beer and counseling centers) wanted me to be an electronic downer to the county. That would be sung to Glen Campbell’s song…
♫ I am a downer to the county…and I play the sad songs. Pickin’ tunes to wallow in her wrongs…♪
Another one of my go to songs to bring the listeners down was a song by Irish singer Gilbert O’Sullivan. Alone Again Naturally reached the top of the charts for several weeks and the tune popped up on the iPod recently. He sings about how life is good and full of promise and then everything changes. That would be called life.
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God in His mercy
Who if He really does exist
Why did He desert me?
In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally
That lyric reflects the struggle of many former believers and struggling believers around us. Several people who are dear to me are going through deep valleys of heartache right now. They sometimes feel deserted and may wonder if God is there. This walk of faith was designed to be lived out in community. I think that is why so many struggle so mightily because we (as a body of believers) lean toward programs more easily than toward authentic community. Community is messy and hard and painful and incredibly fulfilling. My friends at Truefaced.com describe that place of healing as the Room of Grace and I have yet to find a better descriptor of a place where God’s love is demonstrated to wounded sojourners. In the Room of Grace your problems, weirdness, neediness, and weakness does not result in judgment but in acceptance. In that room you can trust God and others with the truth about you and not be pushed away. Fellow inhabitants of the room run toward you when you hurt and not away. That place exists but there are not nearly enough rooms of grace. And if more such rooms constructed the body of Christ would be a much healthier organism.
It seems to me that there are more hearts
Broken in the world that can’t be mended
What do we do? What do we do?
What do we do? If I might be indelicate I suggest that we cut the crap and acknowledge our dependence on Christ to live this journey out. No heroic self-effort on my part makes me a better Christian. It is all because of Christ. That flies in the face of the American values of being self-made and independent. As a Christian I must surrender self and be dependent to be used by God. I would suggest that we drop the pretense of “victory” over sin and the lie that a particular flavor of faith will result in prosperity, health and green lights during every road trip. That is not the Gospel. I would suggest that we get real about our struggles and let others know that their struggle is also ours. I would suggest that you pray for friends and family but also listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit as to how you can serve them. When a loved one comes to mind send them a note, call them, drop a card and take the time see how they are doing. Too many in the church feel unattended because we, His arms to the flock, are not reaching out. Walking with those who are struggling is draining. It can be ugly. There is no guarantee of success. But can I encourage you with this lesson learned? There is nothing more exciting that realizing that God has somehow divinely used your stumbling efforts in the life of one of His children. Nothing will make you worship more than seeing how God uses a humble and trusting heart far more effectively than a slick and convincing tongue.
Paul wrote these words to the Church at Philippi.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2, NLT)
I see a grace revival stirring and we need it desperately. Because in a room of grace the broken hearts will not be left unattended. Pray for more rooms of His grace.