Friday, March 14

On the edge....

"But if one of you suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this matter." 1 Peter 4:16 WEB

It is easy to suffer for being labeled a Christian today, at least in the corporate sense. As the Pastor of my old home church said, "If you don't like it here, leave." We have a host of 'suffering levels' that we can endure in a collective body of others; those of like thought, like heart, and like mind. It is a breeze.

And a curse.

For it is when that suffering becomes personal that our faith lies barren upon the desert sands, being baked alive in agony and pain, that it becomes an entity itself that can consume us like paper is by a flame. We isolate ourselves from the shared burden of suffering in the corporate body and become self-focused.

Poof! All our hard work gone in the blink of an eye, joy and peace become an illusion of our former glory. This isn't what it is supposed to be. This isn't what the church promised Christianity to be. One of my old phrases, "If this is Christianity, I'll gladly pass," comes to mind as I write this.

And a picture forms........

A warrior stands alone. His comrades lies strewn across the landscape at his back, dead or dying from the onslaught of the enemy forces. Everything he left behind; family, home, and peaceful times are gone. There is nothing that he can do now but submit to the forces that are arrayed before him. All else would be furtile. He can lay his sword at the feet of his enemy.

Or he can die well.

I stand at the edge of the killing field in this battle for the souls of all those I hold dear and true to my heart. Tired, weary, and broken. Cut off, it would seem, from the comfort of family and friends and the wise counsel that has echoed through my ears in the din of the battle. But now, the suffering focuses squarely on me. And I am faced with the burning question......

Will I submit or will I die well?

It comes back to me on my drive into work today that the phrase describing Jesus' death is so simple. "He suffered and died." Yet it is so much more complex than that, with the medical knowledge we have now we can accurately give a measure to the suffering that Christ endured for three hours upon a wooden cross with metal nails driven forcefully through his nerves causing excurating pain. The piercing of the heart chamber. The painful cruelity of the crown of thorns dug into His head.

Yet we say He suffered and died. Suffering leads to death, and yet we are called as Christians to suffer gladly, or as one of my mentors say, "Suffer Well." We realize in our maturation that Christians aren't given a life of luxurious comfort and restrictive peace, but are called into suffering greatly in the separation from all of creation's flawed existence. With a smile.....

I stand at the edge of the killing field……..

For just a moment.

And I step forward to reclaim a soul that has been burdened and lost, wandering the field of suffering and darkness for too long, for too many painful moments. To answer the call of my God who has asked, "Whom shall I send?" I step forward in fear; fear that this may just be another illusion that the enemy has offered to a weary soul stretched beyond his endurance. I step forward in fear of the suffering that I yet can endure and may have to endure. Without promise of a successful retrieval or the comfort of knowing I will live another day.

And my soul laughs with the anticipation of the suffering to come…….

Because I am already FREE!

And there is no greater love that any man has than to give his life for another.

As one famous person once said, "I regret that I have only one life to give."

But I chose to give it in service to the KING!


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