Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

February 6, 2018

Mary Chapin Carpenter was right!  Sometimes we’re the windshield and sometimes we’re the bug:

Well it’s a strange old game – you learn it slow.
One step forward and it’s back to go.
You’re standing on the throttle,
You’re standing on the brakes.
In the groove ’til you make a mistake.

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug…

          (The Bug, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, 1992.)

          A few months ago, I was the bug!  I was working a shift with the Tuesday Asbury crew at the homeless shelter when a permanent worker there said out loud, “Wow!  Jimmy, you have gained a ton!”

          This guy’s name was Ray and he hadn’t seen me in a while.  I’d seen myself every day in the mirror and I hadn’t noticed how the weight had crept up on me.

          But, Ray did…notice; and, he is a really decent guy.  I am guessing he spoke out of a reflexive action where the little door in the head that holds the words in just popped open before he knew it; and, the words just all spilled out. 

          At that moment, I had a great idea!  I’d just stop going down there to work my shift!

          One great response to these awakening moments, these moments when brutal honesty is spoken, is to simply avoid such people and places that provoke these kinds of reactions in the first place.

          As I said, it was a momentary thought.  And, to stop working at the homeless shelter would do nothing to resolve my weight issue.

          Even so, truth hurts.  Truth hurts when brutal honesty is spoken because it forces us to confront our failures.

          There are times when we can no longer make excuses for failures and confront them head-on.  But, food is so good and so readily available and junk food is so cheap and I was raised in a family of origin who lived through the Great Depression and cleaning one’s plate out was never optional because we may not have another meal!

          But, Nazareth was right!  Love hurts!

Love hurts.
Love scars.
Love wounds and marks.
Any heart not tough or strong enough.
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain.

(Love Hurts, Nazareth, Warner/Chappell Music, 1975.)

          And, love does hurt, especially when it is the love of self!  The last thing in the world anybody wants to do is put one’s self in the position of dealing with pain.

          Even so, I have this theory that seems to hold as much water as the aforementioned cloud that holds a lot of rain above.  God’s laws are self-correcting. 

          What in the universe does this mean?  It means that you and I were designed to live out a vision that God set in motion for us, even before we were born.  To live contrary to this design will hurt.

          If we treat others poorly, eventually we will feel pain from that behavior.  It will blow back on us somehow!

          If we abuse substances, eventually we will feel pain from this behavior.

          If we are dishonest, eventually it will bite us!  If we live greedy lives, there will be a reckoning!  

          So, here’s the drill, God put self-correcting mechanisms in place such that if we live contrary to God’s systems, God’s ways of doing things, eventually we will feel pain.

          The question then becomes, just how much pain am I willing to live with?  And, I do get it! 

Loneliness and fear can put us in positions that can cause incredible pain, so we compromise.  Then, we try to balance out just how much pain we can bear.

Even worse, the loneliness and/or fear of loneliness creates even more pain as we compromise our standards to avoid them and then our conscience kicks in to punish us!  But, we just keep digging that hole.

People tell me all the time that they stop attending church because fear and loneliness shoved them off a right path and they just don’t want to deal with what they consider will be judgment and questions from their faith family.

The temptation is really strong to avoid a conversation where someone will say we are fat!  What to do?  What to do?

For starters, don’t eat that slice of pie!  But it’s so good and there is a magnetic force that draws me to it!

And, this bring me to Chris Tomlin.  He is a pretty good pointer…towards Jesus.

My chains are gone.
I’ve been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me,
And like a flood His mercy reigns.
Unending love, amazing grace!

(Amazing Love/My Chains are Gone, Chris Tomlin, Sixsteps/Sparrow, 20016.)

          If it takes brutal honesty to find our way back home, so be it.  And, Jesus pulls no punches here:

“If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile (Matthew 5:29-30 MSG).”

          Harsh words from the Savior.  But, then again, he sacrificed himself fully to bring us home.

          The good news is that if we are the bug today, this does not have to be a permanent plan for our lives.  All of us have a choice about that next step.

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