February 10, 2011

Never say never

As they walk, a stranger comes up behind them.  It is Jesus, but they don't recognize Him. Disappointment will do that to you. It will blind you to the very presence of God. Discouragement turns our eyes inward. God could be walking next to us, but despair clouds our vision.

Despair does something else. Not only does it cloud our vision, it hardens our hearts.  We get cynical. We get calloused. And when good news comes, we don't want to accept it for fear of being disappointed again. That's what happened to these two people.

Later on they say these words:

"And today some women among us amazed us. Early this morning they went to the tomb, but they did not find His body there. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive! So some of our group went to the tomb, too. They found it just as the women said, but they did not see Jesus."
Luke 24:22-24

When reading scripture we can't always tell in what tone the words were spoken. Sometimes we don't know if the speaker means to be jubilant or sad or peaceful. This time, however, there is no question about what they're thinking: As if it's not bad enough that Jesus was killed, now some grave robber has taken the body and duped some of our friends.

These two followers aren't about to believe the women. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Cleopas and his friend are putting their hearts in a shell. They won't take another risk. They won't be hurt again.

Common reaction- isn't it? Been hurt by love? Then don't love. Had a promise violated? Then don't trust. Had your heart broken? Then don't give it away. Do like P.T. Barnum. Settle the score by blaming the world and hardening your heart.

There is a line, a fine line, which once crossed can be fatal. It's the line between disappointment and anger. Between hurt and hate, between bitterness and blame. If you are nearing that line, let me urge you, don't cross it. Step back and ask this question: How long am I going to pay for my disappointment? How long am I going to go on nursing my hurt?

At some point you have to move on. At some point you have to heal. At some point you have to let Jesus do for you what He did for these men.

Know what He did? First of all, He came to them. I know we've already mentioned that, but it's worth repeating. He didn't sit back and cross His arms and say, "Why can't those two get with the program?" He didn't complain to the angel and say, "Why won't they believe the empty tomb? Why are they so hard to please?"

What did He do? He met them at their point of pain. Though death has been destroyed and sin annulled, He has not retired. The resurrected Lord has once again wrapped Himself in flesh, put on human clothes, and searched our hurting hearts.

Max Lucado
He still moves stones

I was talking to a friend about this very thing last night and woke up this morning to read about it.

I know this place. I know the darkness of despair and discouragement. I have been to the place where I wanted the world to feel the same pain I was feeling.  A place where I had decided that I would hate those that had hurt me until the day I died. I would show them all that they could no longer hurt me.

Amongst all of the heartache and pain, I had reached a place where I had decided that I would never trust or love again. I would never let my guard down for anyone ever again. I would not be duped!

When people don't do what we want, it's not easy. It is even harder if we feel like God has let us down and not done what we wanted. It's not an easy thing to accept. It never will be. Faith is the conviction that God knows more than we do about this life and that He will get us through. 

Disappointment comes from expectations that go unmet but is cured when those same expectations are revamped. 
When we find ourselves disappointed, we need to hear that God IS in control and that it's not over until HE says it's over. We need to hear that our tragedies and storms are not a reason to bail out but instead, a reason to hold tight to God's truth.

Corrie ten Boom used to say, "When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still and trust the engineer to get you through."

That was just what I did and God showed up. At first I didn't recognize Him. I was blinded by pain and doubted my faith. What amazes me though is that He didn't give up on me. He didn't walk away. He did the exact opposite and ran right towards me.

He began revealing Himself in subtle ways and suddenly, the dark was not as dark. There was a small spark. A light at the very far end of an incredibly long tunnel. There was hope. Though I didn't recognize Him right away, I did recognize the warmth of His love.  That is what I chose to cling on to and trust. And that was the moment my faith was restored and my hope returned.

I'm learning to never say never. Praise God that He grabbed a hold of me before I crossed that fine line. He got a hold of me before my heart became hardened to the point of no return. He reminded me to not give up and to be patient. He reminded me that He is still in control and "it ain't over till it's over."


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