What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots and wandered into a far country. Yet, they kept coming back to Jesus.
~ Brennan Manning
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me. By day the LORD commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.
~ David, The Beloved, in Psalm 42
Oh beloved, it is true.
Some of our lives hurt so badly that we cannot even begin to describe what is going on inside.
This fool of a writer has six, beautiful kids. And, to his great joy, all six of them are doing well on the path that G_d has given each of them to walk. Five are grown. They are brave, and good looking. They are people who think for themselves and give themselves to causes that matter.
They are, to put it simply, children any father would be proud to have. I often think about the people they have become, and it makes me just so thankful, that I could talk about them all day long. It is a source of joy in my life; that in so many ways, I am rich beyond measure.
And, four of these children want little or nothing to do with me. They are grown. One got married in 2014, and the husband has never once even contacted me. Their father, this fool of a writer, was a more than just a failure… I nuked my former life, and the blast wave of my choices created chaos in their lives in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.
So, it is easy to understand why these adults want nearly nothing to do with me. Any sort of religious mindset, or any tuning into the realities of Karma, make this nearly a no-brainer. These kids have had to figure out a way to survive. They have had to process through so many issues. And the fact that I am the cause of so much of this causes me great pain, and makes me wish to never fail another human being, ever again.
Still. I am a father. It goes deeper.
There are moments, that rock my being. There are times where I am absolutely shredded by the fact that I do not have any sort of intimacy with my grown kids. Even with my mountains of failure, there were years of my life that I did indeed pour into them.
There were nights spent in factories trying to provide.
There were enormous sacrifices of career made to help keep them safe.
There were hours spent in prayer, scratching the base of the throne of grace, trying to figure out how to love them better, and help them grow into who they have become.
There was real love given to them. It was not enough. And still it was real.
And so, there are nights … there are nights so deep and painful… Ohhhhhhhhh! Oh G_d, i am coming undone… There, in those places whatever semblance of what I look like during the day, fall down on the floor, and roll and bounce away like globs of quicksilver from a broken thermometer.
Broken heart. All is lost. It feels like it will never get better. It feels like if I ever even try to talk to them someday, they will just walk away. In this place, a fear wells up within me. A dread of loss and rejection and broken relationship and shattered dreams.
These are the best of nights.
Can we see it?
It is in this place of complete brokenness, that the waves of G_d’s Love have the most potential to reach the deepest parts of who we are. It is in our shatteredness, that He meets us most fully. It is in this place where we can hear Him speak to the deepest parts of us.
“I AM here child.”
“All is well.”
“You are Mine. And your children are Mine. That makes us one. This can never be broken, and it is actually a bond stronger than your genetic, social, and relational ties to your kids.”
“There will be a Day… soon my dearly beloved son… soon. Just wait with Me. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I will sit here with you as long as it takes. … Oh child. Just wait.”
And, as weep… and just kind of fall apart… somehow, we find a way to keep breathing, and loving, and reaching out. Except now, it is not just an impetus to reach out to our own kids, but to every kid in the world … to everyone who is also hurting.
So, are you hurting? Are you missing someone, or many? May I preach for a moment? He is with you. Let Him enter into your wounds. The pain is the best part of the healing.
It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.
～Pope John xxiii (1881-1963)