Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Got Pain?

If there is one thing I've learned in 7 years of youth ministry, it's that everybody's got SOMETHING!  Every person you encounter is carrying a burden of some sort - even those people that put on a fantastic cover up.  We hide our darkness, we hide our shame, we hide our fears, we hid our pain.
John 12:35 says "The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going."
We see again in John 3:19 " the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God".

What we are asked to do, is to bring our darkness and make it visible.  If you were in any kind of 12 step program, step 1 is typically to admit our powerlessness.  Essentially the first and most important step is to surrender.  When we are weak, he is strong - when we are suffering he fills us with the grace to grow.  When we make room for him, he dwells within us.

"“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”Jn. 8:12
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." 1Jn1:7
" The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Jn. 1:5
" Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119

If you've ever owned a home, there seem to be tons of little projects that keep showing up.  First you look at them for a while, and you figure you can just live with them.  After time, you realize you actually have to address the issue.  You can either do a patch job, or really get to the root of the problem.  It usually takes a ton more work than you initially perceived, but in the end, the house went through a transition that make them better then they were before.  When we moved into our home, we one of the first things we said was "wow, the kitchen is small" but we decided to live with it.  After a year of living with it, we've decided it might be time for a renovation.  First we're going to have to do some demolition - we're going to have to break down some walls, pull out the existing cabinets, and get it down to straight studs before we can begin to rebuild and make it better than it was before.

For us, how are we carrying around our issues that we are ignoring?  How do we let anger fester in our life without addressing it?  How do we ignore the issues and wait until it gets so bad that we've now got a major issue to deal with?  When the drama piles up, and we feel so lost and broken, how in the world do we find our way out of it?

Sometimes we have to be taken down to studs to rebuild.  Sometimes, everything has to completely crumble in order to rebuild and be made better.  Our challenge is to bring our issues into the light - face them, and then surrender them to the Lord and allow Him to begin to heal us within.  I've seen too many people afraid they'll burden another, or they don't want others to know about their issues, so they walk alone.  If you've ever walked with someone in their suffering, you know that at one point, they were able to give you advice in your hard times and now they can't take their own advice they once gave you.  Why?  We need the help of another source!  This is a HUMAN thing!  We're made that way!  We need others, we need God through our sufferings to bring us back to health.  We can turn to all sorts of distractions or put band aids on the issue - but in the end, the issue remains.

When Jesus said "I'll rebuild my church in 3 days" - he was not refering to a church building... he was refering to the rebuild of all humanity.  In his OWN SUFFERING - he rebuilt the church.  In his OWN pain - the Father brought fullfillment.  Even God himself used suffering to be made perfect.  His divine nature was perfect already but his human nature was brought to perfection through his suffering on the way to the cross.  He makes this very distinct connection with humanity, and asks us to continually reconnect to him in our own sufferings. 

If you want true growth, true healing and to be made new, you must surrender to the Lord and trust in his workings within your life.  This is why faith isn't just about "my personal relationship with the Lord" but it's about being a part of the Body of Christ!  It's about being in a community!  Being spiritual and not religious can only take you so far - eventually, you need others to walk with you.  Jesus Christ - through the Church provides the Eucharist to spiritual nourish you.  Receiving Him - personally, intimately, physically and spiritually is the single greatest gift you can receive.  Go to mass OFTEN!  Jesus Christ through the Church encouraged us to "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." James 5:16 - Go receive the sacrament of reconciliation.  This is not a Catholic thing - this is a HUMAN need that we all have!  The Church just supplies the time, the place, and a priests to do it in a healthy and confidential way.  If you're suffering from a physically or mental illness, go and be anointed!  For CENTURIES - those who were sick were anointed.  "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." James 5:14

Through the sacraments of the Church - the Lord gives you the Grace you need.  The Lord will equip you with all the tools you need, if you simply surrender to him.  If  you turn to him and ask for healing, he will walk with you.  He may not go and "fix all your problems" like you might want.  If you expect that, you're not surrendering - you're just asking for favors.  Surrendering is allowing his will.  Jn. 3:30 says it best "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease."

We must decrease so that he may increase.  We have to surrender our own wants, our own desires, our own plans so that his may come to fulfillment.  Do not let yourself be a roadblock for the Lord working in your life.  

2 Timothy 3: "which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

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