Good morning everyone,
I was asked the other day why so much of what I write in these pages is personal? This was by a new reader who didn’t know the story behind Food for Heart and Life. This is always an interesting question for me to think about and it does deserve the time to think about especially in this day and age. I will admit that often times it would be easier to write about objective things or to write a theological think piece; yet that is not the purpose of these pages. The short answer to my friend’s questions that these pages are personal and I know no other story than my own so what else could I write.
Another friend explained to me the other day his perception of Food for Heart and Life which really surprised me he said, “They are about my trying to figure out what it means to be Christian and to be the church.” The more I thought about this he was right, but not completely they are also about what it means to be me and what God is calling me to be; so all of this means that these pages by necessity have to be personal yet they are not private.
This may make some of us uncomfortable as we live in a world where privacy is valued and yet it is shrinking day by day. We are more guarded about our private lives, separating into compartments the various areas of our lives so that they may never touch or intersect. I know that this is a terrible analogy but too often I see our lives as the school lunches that I ate as a student at Garwin Community Schools. We had these trays, with compartments. They were either round with three compartments or rectangular with five compartments. Each compartment had its own item; in the large compartment went the main dish, in the smaller ones were our vegetable, and desert. The trays were designed so that the food didn’t touch and thus the analogy of our lives. However I struggle with this and this is why I write, I do not believe that this is how we are meant to be; one part of or life shut off from another.
Bishop Jordan once said to me and some others as we were having lunch and discussing our Ordination Vows; when the disciplinary question is asked, “Will you visit from house to house?” “What the question is really asking is will you be where the people are?” Will we mix it up and overlap our life compartments? Will we open up our lives into a wholeness model where we share who we are everywhere we are? I know that this is a scary and hard thing to do because we are afraid what others will do with the information and possibly the knowledge of our vulnerabilities. Yet I would contend as long as we keep people at arms length we will never be able to fulfill our Christian commission. After all how do you teach of the love of Christ when we are afraid to get close enough to our neighbor to love them?
What I mean is if all we ever do is keep our distance we cannot share life only the perception of others. We can never know a heart if all we see is the skin. We can never know the struggles if all we here is Hi and Ok. This is my struggle and part of my purpose in Food for Heart and Life to do two things: 1st to open up myself so that others may get to know me. This is important not because I am anything special or impressive but because I am ordinary and average or maybe a little below. I also am not perfect as anyone who has read these pieces knows I struggle with so many things including how to be a pastor, father, husband, and Christian. I haven’t answered why this is important yet so here is the answer I am hoping the truth of my imperfections and struggles will open the door others to recognize that they are not alone in their struggles. I have found that it is much easier to open up and share our struggles with the imperfect rather than feel inferior to one who seems to have all the answer. I think that this is why the cross and the nails are so easy to relate too; after all Jesus understood a bad day, being sought for doing what is right, and denounced not for what he had done but for not toe the party line then it makes him a little more personable. By opening up about my struggles and foibles I think it may break through the stereotype of what a pastor is and may open the door so that others may feel comfortable with the pastor and with Christians we try to minister to all of God’s children.
The second reason that I am willing to open up as much of my life and feelings as I do is to help others find hope. I know that this sounds a little strange but the hope I am speaking of is the hope of God’s grace. Now I should explain that when I talk of “hope” I am not talking in terms of maybe or I hope something comes true, no instead I am speaking of hope as a sure thing promised and which will be delivered. It is a looking forward in time to a sure and certain reality promised by God. What I am attempting to do is to help others see that God does not require perfection but is perfecting. Too often too many of us think that we cannot go to God unless we are perfect or sin free. Then what happens is the same thing that happens when we put off anything for any length of time; we become more and more depressed and unable to cure ourselves. By showing others my imperfections and sharing my hope in God and what he has done and continues to do in my imperfect life that God can and will do the same thing each other one who seeks God out. Do not make the mistake of thinking that God will not love you if you are broken, or that he will not hear you if you speak with and hurting heart; just the opposite is true. How do I know this well it is what he has done fore me over and over.
You see I still make so many mistake and commit so many sins in a days time that I do not deserve to be heard but I know in my heart that God is healing me and if he heals me then he will heal you as well.
I guess in short what I am trying to day today is pretty simple; perfection is not who we are, but we are loved perfectly by the one who give life and heals hearts.
Lord, the error of my ways continues to call my name and way too often I answer. I pray that you use the healing of my imperfect life and my own imperfections to touch the lives of those around me. Amen.
Grace and Peace