"The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
There are those, in the interests of healing and training those who follow, that will remove the heartfelt responses of this journey from the discussion of their story for this very reason…the heart, the human corrupted heart, is deceitful above all else and its reasoning for being so is well beyond the understanding of man. Dealing, they decide, with the emotional and beating pain of the heart is beyond where God would have us go, far beyond what we could understand and therefore something to be cut out and removed from our Christian walk. Love becomes a hardened, lifeless shell in the context of our humanity, for love is the very thing we cannot abide in….it is simply too painful.
And we develop a mechanism to prevent the heart from feeling, a switch as one friend put it today, where we think with the logic of our minds rather than the feeling within our heart. And it is that switch that throws us into alienation from God; the God of love, the God of grace, the God of mercy and the God of our creation. And, in that disconnection, we find that logic will not survive and the benefit of tranquility becomes the thing we most fear.
I speak from experience, but I speak it in faith because my heartfelt cry isn't, "Lord, Lord come….." but "Dear Father, help my unbelief….in what I believe."
I came away from the meeting today with my brothers, those men who refuse to let go of this heart and refuse to accept the logic of my argument that I cannot be worthy of what God entices me to be because I am disrupted, and far from the realization of what logically a life surrendered to Christ would or should be. They called out to that heart today….and its sorrow lay heavy upon the ground between us, its pain disturbing the peaceful tranquility of the gathering. When I tried to switch from the emotional disruption of my heart, they called me back……
And, in the midst of the disturbance of that movement, they glimpsed the beating wounded heart and sang of its worthiness to feel, to live and to experience the tranquility of God's peace in the disorder of chaos that logic brings. God doesn't call us to a 'measure of a man' that lies within the logic of society's demandiness….a wealth of possessions, finances and relationships devoid of feeling and disturbed eddies of our living in the broken world of this place…..but of a nourishing, illogical movement of love within a heart reborn…..a replacement heart, born in love and moved by compassion, unselfish movement and a power that is not orderly in its use but alive in justifiable use through unselfish living 'to bless.'
The world operates upon the value of logic; if we don't buy things, then others cannot buy things with the money that comes from our 'consumer confidence'. If we do not allow the government to support the needs of the uninsured, we are being calloused and uncaring. If we trust in God, we will not vote according to our beliefs and values, but put those aside under the title of "God will what God wills." Tolerance is not living our faith, but refusing its voice in the lives around us.
The church, in its missional duty to reach out to the world, has been corrupted by that very logic: if you are saved, instant and definable change takes place. If you continue to feel pain, it is because you do not love logically as Christ loved, loves or will love. There is a formula for corporate worship, a logic in counting the numbers to define the worthiness and effectiveness of a ministry. If, logically, you are not attracting the numbers, you are doing something wrong. There is a way to heal anyone, no matter the wound and there is a step by step process by which true growth within the family of God can be discerned. It doesn't require relationship, only training, and in that logic lies the death of the church that Christ entrusted to His disciples and them to those who followed on down through the ages to you and I today. Instead of a God who is both logical and illogical, emotional and unemotional; loving and unloving……we have constructed a god definable by the self-serving logic of our humanity. And doomed the sheep to which we are all called on a personal level to shepherd into being shepherds themselves.
Our belief becomes a coat of many colors and as interchangeable as the clothes we don in the morning.
We become a logical people who live in the chaos of a fallen, broken world dysfunctional…..and fearful of the tranquility that exists in a one on one relationship with God as lived in the relational state with other believers.
I don't speak of a logical assumption based on my experience, but to that heart that beats within me….changed by God….that I have been silently starving in the logical justification of my experience and judgmental attitude towards myself. I'm scared of tranquility because I don't know how to live with it when my experience tells me that I will only know the chaos of being unworldly in this life. If I do not let the beloved son bleed, I cannot feel and I can rationalize my unbelief away in the shadow of my belief. Logically I can assume that there is no growth, and therefore no real conversion, because of the lack of worldly stability in my life. And, as one friend said in a previous blog, I challenge the will of God in the face of my own unwillingness to be peaceful in the storm. I try and fix that which I've destroyed by the logic of my unbelief and am challenged by my faith and experience to believe in a God who is unbelievably emotional in His enticement.
I can speak with the dismayed logic of Peter in the face of Christ's emotional statement of the flock scattering, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." And even when Christ specifically pointed out Peter's logical betrayal, Peter still replied with the logic of his masculinity and pride, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." But, in the silence of this world's movement against its Savior Peter was faced with his self-protecting logic and fulfilled the prophesy of Christ….denying Him three times. And in the failure of his logic, he realized the painful wound it had created in his heart, withdrawing to weep bitterly in the face of its realization.
When Jesus appears to His disciples after the Resurrection, upon the shores of Galilee where Peter had retreated with the logical conclusion that he was unworthy to be the 'rock upon which I will build My church', again Christ used His heart to speak against the logic of Peter's choice…."Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?" Three times, the exact number of times Peter's logical denial scourged the heart of Christ, Christ asked him to show that love by feeding His sheep…..and Peter had nothing to say except the logical response of "You know I love you" until the wall was breached and the emotional longing of his heart was exposed……to which he cried out with heartbreaking feeling, "Lord, you know above all things; you know that I love you."
Maybe I'm not making sense today as I try and write about what I learned today, in the silence that I attributed to God's abandonment in this season ending portion of my life, where everything that I had built slowly implodes into the unknown. I have less than a week to pack and be moved, again into a place that is so much less than logically I should provide as a man…..disrupted and battered about by the storms of my life, created and not created by my own hand or the hands of others……..rowing against the tide of my own destruction because illogically that slim hope remains that God is real, that God is worthy and that God stands at the helm of this battered vessel and guides me into the fury of the storm.
In the fury of my logic, God steers me to the storm of its creation to face the illogical emotion of my heart…..to fight the logic that this time, this final time, He will not come to my aid for I have proven myself logically not worth saving with the emotional cry of my heart to be loved, to be valued and to be rescued from the chaos of my making.
In the logic of my crisis of belief where I am broken by the realization that I cannot expect more than the chaos that my life is, God sits…..
Answering my emotional and wounded cry of a heart born to feel the depth and grace of His illogical love with the thing I most logically fear……
Tranquility in the arms of the Father who created me, who calls me and who has plans for me that I was born to do…..
Being the Image Bearer of a complete God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…….
Who weeps for His people and desires our hearts, hearts reborn through the blood of Christ.
"Worship the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest Commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
An illogic, complete love born outside the logic of our own realization, realized in the illogical service of emotional relationship with others against the logic of our minds.