I have found myself tearing up a lot the past couple of days. I am not sad, nor am I particularly emotional. I have found peace in my tears. They have been a sort of expression of my heart. Much like a smile evidences the emotion of happiness. These tears have been the evidence of a heart that has been softened by Jesus.
I am wanting to praise God for who He is and what he has done for me. I listen to music, watch the beauty of the sunset, look at the mountains, the people around me, think of the opportunities for me to know the great Healer, think of the people I have met all over the globe who remind me that Jesus is at work everywhere… and… I get teary.
Life is extraordinarily hard. It is filled with pain that would seemingly cause the Titanic to sink and injustice that would rile up the most fierce outcry!
Life is also filled with the most glorious joy. The kind of joy that evokes laughter, causes leaves to dance and waves to splash against the shore. Joy that is experienced with new life, the realization that the impossible just became possible and the fact that beauty is a gift for all to see, without condition or effort.
Unfathomably hard and Joy
The two coexist. Always.
The world is in a remarkably sad place. Hatred seems louder than love. Injustice seems to prevail. People seem to be so fearful that it leads to selfishness and what is holy is seen as evil and what is evil is seen as holy. It is a confusing world. A world where people often do not know who or what to believe. I can find myself being pulled by well sounding arguments and the temptations to choose sides.
And, one thing remains.
In all of these things. One thing is true. Jesus.
Jesus came into the world because the world, apart from him, like ours today, is in great need. Jesus came not to make religious soldiers who cause every person to be well behaved, monochromatic, polite, children. Jesus came compelled by a love that was so loud and so great and so extreme that it caused him to leap from personal comfort and catapulted him into a world so full of pain that he ultimately absorbed the pain that filled the world and thrust him to a cross. The cross has been a symbol for so many that evokes feelings of shame, but for me, especially lately, the cross has been made the most beautiful sign of love, a place where love took a person out of comfort, took a person who had every right in the world and could also control the whole world to look just like him if he wanted, but instead, he chose to enter into the world, taste the pain for himself and then that pain took him to a cross where he experienced death.
He did not shame those who put him there, but he loved them. He spoke to his Father about them and he loved them, even as he died.
It is a story of sacrifice.
A story of love.
A story of putting others before his very own self.
A story of crazy, inexplainable, passionate care for the world.
A story we need so desperately today.
Jesus, who’s very life is defined by love, is the picture of what love does. Love lays down itself for the other, always. And that love, was not based on the behavior of any person… but because of love for the person.
So yes, our world is in a funky spot and there are people all around me suffering. People who don’t believe how incredibly valuable and loved they are. People who have given up hope. People who have stopped believing. People who are isolated and afraid. People who are so desperately in want of a change that they push agendas with the hope that maybe, just maybe, when this one law passes, or people are or are not allowed to do this or that.. that maybe, just maybe, then, peace would come.
The story isn’t working though. The story of working ourselves into peace. The story of achieving our way into self value. The story of freedom in a country bringing ultimate freedom to the heart of a person. The story of lovers experienced filling a person with love and connection that is perfect. These stories are not working.
We need to be reminded… honestly I needed to be reminded, of the story that does all of this. The story of Jesus who is peace, who is freedom, who is love, who does not take away our experience of pain, but walks with us through it giving us peace and freedom and love as we are in him.
So today, my friends, when you take a look at the world, you will see pain, you will see destruction and confusion and religious law and hopelessness…. AND at the very same time, you are invited to Jesus. And Jesus, who is perfect love, will bring hope, peace, freedom and joy into your life. He is with you. He is for you. He loves you. He wants you in his family. He wants to connect you with your Father, just by receiving him. You and I have way through this unfathomably hard life, a way of joy… in the way of Jesus.
You are loved.
You are valuable.
Your story does not define you.
You do not walk alone.
There is hope.
There is peace.
There is joy.
Soak it in. Breathe it in like air after a long swim under the water. Let his truth fill you to the fullest measure and may his way bring you life abundant and full… even now.