In Love’s service, only wounded soliders can serve.

Don’t you just hate it (but yet not really hate it) sometimes when Jesus goes and says or does something that totally shakes you from your comfortable complacency?

I’m maybe (but yet not really maybe) having one of those weeks…

Primarily, something along the lines of the words written by Thornton Wilder:

In Love’s service, only wounded soliders can serve.

A few things have intersected for me in the last 7 days. And in the quiet, unhurried stillness of this beautiful Saturday morning, I have read the Word, over breakfast, in my pyjamas, and began to reflect on it all.

And let me simply share it with you.

1. On Monday I hung out with some young people who really need Jesus. Yeah, yeah, I know,Β  all people, everywhere really need Jesus, I do know that. But these particular guys and girls were young people whose fear and isolation leaked out of them in a way that couldn’t be hidden. Not even if they tried. The effects of bullying and low self esteem and fear of the world, displayed in the physical scars of self harm, and an inability to speak in public, and eyes that seemed to silently scream, ‘I just don’t feel valuable to me’. I spoke with them in my very broken Japanese, and deeply wanted to reach out and hold every, single one of them, and just say ‘Jesus is your Healer. There’s still hope for you’. Instead (I’m not sure I could have got away with that on my first visit somewhere), I bent down low, and met eye contact, and spoke affirmation, and listened. Just listened. And then we played One Direction and spoke about Full Metal Alchemist, and allowed the joy to come in the mundane, comfortable *stuff* that we so often overlook.

These are the kids that I love to hang out with. Who are brimming with potential. And the Japanese colleagues who stood with me said, ‘It’s like you feel comfortable on their level and relate to them there…’ And I thought, ‘I hope so. Because Jesus came for the sick and not the healthy, and we’re all a mess in need of Him.’

These young people marked me in a way that took me to my knees. And reminded me that we are all broken and in need of a Healer. We can live because He lives. Neither I, nor they, are ruled out because we are broken.

In Love’s service, only wounded soliders can serve.

2. I’ve been going to my church to pray each morning this week. Which has been truly wonderful. And God has been speaking. And I’ve been able to share some words of knowledge or encouragement with friends here in a way that humbles me, because I know only God can get the glory from things that I could never know or write from within myself.

I’ve been thinking about the things that so often hinder us from praying and being present to God like we should be. I sometimes think that when I talk about getting up early to pray, people think I bounce out of bed every morning without an alarm, filled with some divine energy to go and praise Jesus with a totally pure heart…

To dispel that myth…

I admit I am a morning person. But I confess that I don’t always like getting up at 5am. Normally, at about 10am I reflect that I’m glad I did, but let’s be really clear… Getting up early is hard. It sucks to sometimes miss out on precious hours of sleep. It means trusting God for energy. I often wrestle with whether it’s worth it. I often wrestle with whether I want to. And I often conclude that I don’t. I sometimes press snooze. More than once. I fail sometimes. I often have to hide my alarm somewhere that means I am forced to get out of my bed and walk around to turn it off. The thought of walking half an hour to my church in the snowy dark seems like too much effort to my flesh. Even when I make the effort to pray, I question my motives. Because mingled with the genuine love for God and love for prayer that Holy Spirit is growing in me, is pride and arrogence, and a desire to prove myself. I constantly have to keep my heart in check from feeling smug, or feeling like I’m impressing a God who cannot be impressed by me.

But you know something? It’s worth the effort. And I believe God loves our prayer. He loves our conversation. Even when it’s weak. Even when we’re not even sure of the state of our heart. Even when we pray narcissistic prayers of selfishness. Because when we’re present to Him, Holy Spirit starts to be able to mould us and use us and change us. If I wait until my motives are perfect before I pray, I will never pray. If I wait until getting up at 5am brings me immediate joy, I will never get up. If I wait until I naturally have time for prayer, I will never have time. So, I guess the challenge is in the choice. And in the choice I am so aware of my need of Him.

In Love’s service, only wounded soliders can serve.Β 

Over breakfast this week, Obaa-san said to me something which roughly translates as, ‘It brings me joy to see you so full of energy and happiness each morning’… So these ladies may think I’m crazy for going to pray early, but I long for them to see Jesus in these things.

3. I spent a few hours on Wednesday talking to my Muslim friend at language school about what we believe. We’re friends and neither of us are easily offended so it was a fun, joyful and easy exchange (which I personally believe is always more effective than an academic debate) But we came back to Jesus. And we came back to grace. Because that’s what it all rests on. For me. You know, I was struck that as a Muslim, my friend could talk to me about having a fear of God for hours and hours. About wanting to keep the rules set by his holy book. About needing to pray and worship. About what he perceived as the similarities between our belief systems. (Sorry, I’m aware I’m simplifying a hugely complex belief system here, but my word and time limit mean I’m doing a helocoptic overview…)

But, grace? Undeserved forgiveness through the sacrifice of God? Certainty of salvation? The cosmos-shifting concept that God would love us so much that He would do everything to be close to us? The genuine hope that we live in because of Jesus’ resurrection power? That’s different. So totally different.

We were talking about common people in the texts of major religions, and we mentioned Abraham and the story of his willingness to sacrifice his only son. And as we did I remembered this quote by Brennan Manning,

The child of God knows that the graced life calls him or her to live on a cold and windy mountain, not on the flattened plain of reasonable, middle-of-the-road religion. For at the heart of the gospel of grace, the sky darkens, the wind howls, a young man walks up another Moriah in obedience to a God who demands everything and stops at nothing. Unlike Abraham, he carries a cross on his back rather than sticks for the fire… like Abraham, listening to a wild and restless God who will have His way with us, no matter what the cost. This is the God of the gospel of grace.

Β 

The love of God displayed in grace like this seems reckless to those who don’t understand it. It is reckless to those of us who do. It means that in my woundedness, and my weakness, the Father runs to me and embraces me. Because I have been present to Him. I can’t earn a love like that, I don’t deserve it, and I live for Him because everything within me is touched by His love, rather than minimising faith to a prescriptive set of rules. The Word is so much bigger than that. I die to myself so that I can live in Him. I die to my sin so that I can live for Him. I admit I am broken in need of a Healer, that I am seen as lovely only because I am hidden in Christ.

But in Love’s service, only wounded soliders can serve.

And that open handed life where all is gift, is a truly beautiful place to live from.

Yesterday here was White Day (like Valentine’s Day, but just for the girls)… And we had a wonderful time. So I’ll leave you with some photos of our chocolate and cake eating experiences and head off to teach a kids class πŸ™‚ Love you all!

Image

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “In Love’s service, only wounded soliders can serve.

  1. Some of the very best conversations I’ve ever had about faith have been with our Muslim brethren. So similar and yet so different.
    I’ve been humbled by their words too. In fact, almost to the point where I’m offended by so many people claiming so much bad about the Muslim faith and make these assumptions based on hearsay – having never even sat down and spoken with anyone of the faith.

    The only thing that they really didn’t like was the concept of the Holy Spirit. yet Ironically in the land where this faith become whole, without the strictest rules, you’d simply die because of just how harsh the environment is.

    I could go on, but I won’t πŸ™‚ But needless to say I have a great deal of respect for true practicing Muslims whom have no agenda other than their own personal faith and wish to serve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s