I feel like I need to expound a little more on what I closed with yesterday, that the idea of dying for a man comes when you see the question in his eyes that you know the answer to. That's kind of my ideation of ministry in general; it is the foundation of how I serve my God. I think it's the foundation of how we all serve, if we serve honestly and humbly.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share part of my story with my chaplain group. One of those "new group" exercises. And I think this beautifully illustrates what I was trying to say yesterday, if you'll grant me a small bit of space to share. I'm not going to share the whole thing; just enough that you get an idea of what I mean.
It's things like...I didn't grow up in church, but I went to Christian preschool. The preschool met in one end of this old church building where the lighting was terrible and the cockroaches were plentiful and you could smell the mold as soon as you walked in. Down the hall a little ways, there was a room with big, heavy double doors. They let us peek in there one day, but repeatedly insisted we were not to go in and we were not to speak. They opened the doors and revealed this magnificent sanctuary with pristine floors, polished wooden pews, this open and clean air. That one room was wholly different than the entirety of the preschool area, and I couldn't reconcile that. I immediately sensed it as holy and by instruction and correlation, holy then became off-limits. It was intimidating. It made me question my worth, among other things. Who was I to ever be around anything holy? Who was I to even think about holy things? To this day, I can remember what it was like to stand in that doorway, just a couple feet tall, take in a breath of that air and understand that I may never get this moment again because that was holy and holy was not for little children. Which later translated to holy was not for me.
I've spent years trying to figure out holy. Trying to figure out how to answer that question that's stayed in my heart. Twenty-five years later, I'm starting to get it. I'm starting to understand holy, not that I could ever articulate it or tell you in words. Not yet, anyway. But I look around at people searching for a church home or searching for God or searching their souls, and I see in their eyes the same question. I see them asking what is holy, and who are they to ever think about such things? I see them questioning their worth and this thing that seems so much bigger, so much purer.... And you know what? I would give up myself if I could show them something holy. The answered question in my heart is that heavy. I would give up whatever I'd have to in order that they might not have to ask that question any more.
It's things like...wondering where God is and how long it's going to take me to find Him. I have made no secret of my darkness. I have made no secret of my wandering, my questioning, my aching. For so many years, all I heard was that I needed to take my heart to God. I needed to take my life to God. I needed to go find Him and fall on my knees in His presence. You want to know something? God is really hard to find! I wasted so many years looking for my God. Then I finally settled down in the forest of my darkness and there He was, waiting on me the whole time. When we had that moment, I didn't throw my life on His lap and fall to my knees and bawl like a baby. No. He spoke. He reached out. He initiated the moment, just by being there. Comfortably being there, as if He had no other place in the universe to be.
I wasted so much time looking for God when the truth is that God was looking for me. I spent so much time trying to find God that I forgot to be found by Him. Now that we've seen each other's faces, heard each other's voice, I know where to find Him. Whenever I need Him. The first time, like so many of my Biblical heroes, was on my turf. After that, it's a toss-up. But I see all these people wandering around, wondering where they are ever going to find God. They're asking, begging to know where He is. And they are wasting all this time on a supernatural scavenger hunt that is honestly one of the most defeating "spiritual" practices we have. And you know what? I would give up myself if I could show them the place where God is waiting for them. His face is so vivid in my heart that I'd have to. I would crawl through their underbrush, face their beasts, bleed through their jungle for the chance to take them back into their own ground where God is waiting for them. I would give up whatever I'd have to in order that they would see God's face and realize it was them, not Him, who had to be found.
Those are just a couple of examples, but that's what I mean about seeing my answered questions in another's eyes. I would die for that person to know what I know. And I could only die because I know it. That's what Jesus did. That's the beauty of the Cross.