There is a challenge here. I am having to make a decision this minute, some of the decision originates from my lack of comprehension of how to make this blog, or this post age-restricted. I want to be honest, and fully describe how God can meet me right where I am. Sometimes, that is in the middle of things that adults deal with in day-to-day life. So I will make this PG or possibly PG-13.
To give you an idea of where we are going, and how God layered things that didn’t appear to be related together into something beautiful, I am headed towards being able to hear a true love story, as found in Anne Voskamp’s latest book “WayMaker: Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of”.
The reason that this is so profound, is that I divorced 23 years ago. I have not remarried. In many ways, I have been looking for all my flaws before I would attempt being joined a woman again. And what God revealed was that my fears of inadequacy went back long before I met my ex-wife. I have not wanted to face this pain. I have not wanted to face this shame, either. And this is another story of how God beautifully works things that seem to have no relation to each other into something beautiful.
I am on short-term disability for a concussion. And part of the treatment is to limit my reading. Initially, I had thought that it was just reading of the sort that would require tracing a complex line of thought. But now, I understand it is more than that. I need to eliminate as much reading as is possible. I even use Dragon Naturally Speaking to write. And, I have learned how to have browsers read to me.
So this began with having an older man within the home church network challenge us to know what Jesus meant when He said to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers”. I have never really thought about that deeply. The leader of our home church asked us to seek God as to how he gives us His heart for the lost. Up until this point, I would pray for The Father to draw people to Jesus, as Holy Spirit pointed them out to me. Sometimes, I would be given understanding as to certain things to pray for, often for healing, to prepare the person to be drawn to Jesus and The Father. And I left it at that. I am not sure if God is calling me to do anything different. But I am asking, and expecting Him to answer.
I have picked up audio bibles from Audible(tm) with my subscription, as well as Anne Voskamp’s latest book . And I even had one man read Matthew 9 to me. I have read it in many versions at this point. But that doesn’t relieve me from seeking Jesus to ask what was in his heart when he spoke the words.
As good as translators are, there are a lot of things that we need to ask, and expect for Him to answer. He has brought that to me in a humorous way, recently. With one of the audio bibles, there is no index. So as I was going to sleep, I set the timer on the Audible app, and just let it start from the beginning.
In the first chapter of Genesis, there was a lot of “and God saw that was good. The question came “Didn’t He know that it would be good?” Later, the question came, “Was there anything that He created that wasn’t good, that is just not recorded here? And I got this playful audio of Holy Spirit talking to The Father, saying something like ‘That one is a lot like the first pancake, it is best to throw it away.'” If you think that is too flippant, I have to say that God does have a sense of humor. As well, when Jesus was on the earth, it is a serious question as to if He made mistakes.
My belief is that He did. It is religion that emphasizes to my mind that sin is “missing the mark.” But I think that mistakes and sin are two different things. John The Baptist speaks of not being worthy to untie the Lord’s sandal. So when Jesus was little, and he got his first set of tie on sandals, did He have to make multiple attempts in order to learn, similar to all humans. Joseph was a carpenter, and taught Jesus his trade. Did he have to teach Jesus how to use some of his tools? Were the first things that Jesus made pretty crude? Did Jesus improve over time? So if Jesus was there at the beginning, creating things, were there any things that were created that were later discarded during the creation process? I don’t have an answer to that question but it is definitely something to ask.
I do believe that God seeing things as good was for our benefit. We could start with things that we knew are good, namely all of creation that we inherited.
So last night, following the advice of my doctor, I looked for something to watch. Videos are okay. I had spent some time looking at YouTube videos, earlier in the day. And had let some of their suggestions guide me. At the core, I was drawn to “The Big Bang Theory”, for the same reason that I am drawn to “The Librarian” series of movies. One of the heroes, is a geeky, somewhat sad, person who seems to stumble into good things. They also show great rewards for being gifted. “The Big Bang Theory” also shows the downside of being gifted in some ways, and that is part of the comedy. To have so much can sometimes mean to lack so much of something else.
Seeing thumbnails of episodes, I chose the one that showed fencing. I really enjoy fencing. But it turned out, that this episode was somewhere around when the characters Amy and Sheldon broke up. Amy and Sheldon seem to have the least understanding of what takes a relationship, though the others certainly share a lot of dysfunctions. So I watched several episodes, being taken through the heartbreak of broken dreams, and of seeing the beloved with another. In thinking back to my own time, I don’t know which is more difficult to see my beloved with another, or to see the search for another. Both stir up a lot of shame. And a lot of questions. And some painful answers to some questions.
I watched episodes up through the point of where Amy and Sheldon reconcile, and end up in bed together, looking painfully awkward.
This morning I wanted a tender time in bed with my beloved, so much. I wanted to desire and be desired. I wanted to be tender, and have that tenderness offered as well. And I wanted the glorious, though brief, climax of our time, as well as the warmth of the appreciation of the amazing time that we shared. When I say my beloved, I do not mean my ex. God made it clear that he had separated us. I have looked for new beloved, but have found none.
So my thoughts went back over the time with my wife, and back to the time before. I marveled at how shy I was around girls when I was growing up. I consider it a miracle that God arranged for my ex-wife and I to talk with one another, and then to see something special in each other. We were both afraid. We connected. We had seen so much marital carnage around us, that we wanted to “do it right”.
But as I reflected on how much we had endured together, and how things slowly came apart, I realized that the seeds of divorce were sown in my childhood. I wasn’t really courageously open. I didn’t know what to do with conflict. I didn’t know what to do when I hurt my wife through sheer ignorance. And, mixed in with all of this, was the unhealthy kind of fear of God that pushed me to lean on my own understanding. And some of that was in the bedroom.
So as I went to the grocery store, the hands-free, Bluetooth connection to my phone was established, and I came in to WayMaker just as Anne was in the counselor’s office, for her fears that had not allowed your marriage to be consummated on their honeymoon. In Anne Voskamp’s way, she had slowed all of that down, and described in detail the heart aches of coming together without physically coming together. Over the course of my driving, and errands, I learned how she got out of herself, anticipating the awe of something greater, and begin to know (yāḏaʿ) her husband and her God. She uses the Hebrew word yāḏaʿ throughout this section in chapter 4 and chapter 5. She talks about the chilling passage in Matthew 7:21-23 where people speak about the things that they did “in Your name”, and Jesus responds with “I never knew you”.
She talks about the places that she got to know her husband, before and after the bedroom. So much of it has been in the life that they have shared. So much of it has also been in the affliction that they have shared, and the ways in which they have fought for one another.
She also talks about how she has come to know God. It is not that different than how she has come to know her husband. But she does emphasize that obedience is an essential ingredient in coming to know God. I still haven’t read far enough to understand obedience, as she understands it.
Back to tomorrow’s assignment for the house church. Thinking about the verses, and the way that my marriage and unraveled. I am reminded of Matt 9:36, which preceeds the passage Matt 9:38, about praying to the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His harvest.
But Matt 9:36 seems to sum up a lot of the miraculous that had been leading up to it. In chapter 9 alone, there had been healing of the paralytic, healing of two blind men, the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, and the raising of the officials daughter from the dead.
From a previous time of meditating on a discussion of the passage on the woman with the issue of blood, I realized that in that miracle, Jesus was ministering to the crowd, the people pressing around Him, in the way that He spoke to , and spoke of the woman, The miracle rocked her world, in terms of faith in her God, and Messiah. And in terms of healing of all the years that her hope had been dashed as she sought deliverance from physicians. She also, in Jesus’ response to her “Daughter”, did much to heal the years of isolation, uncleanness, and judgment. Jesus did much for those witnesses as well. He showed Himself to be someone moved by people’s need, and trauma, and faith. And the impossible is possible. And He again exposed how little they knew of the individual love and care that He has and lets loose on each one of us (and how His intentions in the law were so misunderstood).
So Matt 9:36 says “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (NKJV). Other translations use “they were harrassed and helpless” or “they were dispirited and distressed”.
Three things stand out “He was moved” “with compassion” “for them”. Sure, they are all part of the same thought, the same sentence. But, savor each one.
He was moved — He is not distant, physically, or emotionally. He definitely is not a deist.
With compassion – The translated word compassion comes from the Latin compati, literally means to suffer with. The Greek word underneath is a little more splagchnizomai “to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)” Here is where I confess that I have for most of my life been numb. Neglect and abandonment were painful as a child, as was the shame of repeatedly trying to figuring things out on my own, and many times getting it wrong. It takes grace, faith (that He is with me), and practice for me to move with compassion. Sad to say, but in my 10 years of marriage, and a lot of time as a single dad, I was not moved with compassion. I moved more out of fears, which generated more harm, and more fear.
“For them” – He knew every name. He looks us in the eye. He regards us as family, even as He expressed to the woman with the issue of blood. He stores our tears in a bottle Ps 56:8 It is for you and for me, to be known. To be loved. To know.