Monday, August 5, 2013

when you get a pit in your stomach

Have you ever had that awful feeling way down deep?

I call it a 'pit in my stomach' but it's really more like a wild, reckless tornado that twists inside of me destroying any semblance of safety or peacefulness.  It rearranges every thought and emotion that once seemed strong until they are left like broken pieces in a pile on the ground of my soul.  

I am left with a choice - fight or flight?

Life gives us 'pit in your stomach' moments.  It's what Jesus meant when he said - in this world you will have trouble...

And we could stop right there and lose all hope but jesus doesn't.  He doesn't stop there.

...but take heart, I have overcome the world.

OK, well, that makes me feel a little bit better.

But Jesus doesn't stop there either.

What follows in chapter 17 of the book of John is what is sometimes referred to as the 'Prayer of the High Priest'.  And it was spoken for me and you.

Jesus' request on my behalf brings rivers of tears today.  Let it wash over you too.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep then from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  as you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

Set apart.  
A blessing prayed over my life - over your life - by Jesus himself.

This life I have chosen, this life of following jesus - it isn't always easy.

And this world - oh this world - it will sweep you up into its distorted truths.  It will pull you into the false promise of an 'easy' life if you just 'go with the flow'.  And if you're not prepared to step heavy and hard directly into the current of this culture you will be taken down. 

As a follower of Jesus I choose for my life and the lives of my children to be set apart.  Every day I have to claim it anew.  Some days the walk upstream is easy and refreshing.  Other days the waters come rushing at me and I push against them with all my might - fighting to keep my head up.

When I find myself gasping for air I grab onto the only thing that can fill me back up with breath again - the truth.  
     Your word is truth.

With the waves crashing all around us and the current grabbing at our heels, how do we not get sucked in and swept away?

The answer is simple...

Sometimes truth acts as an anchor that keeps us from being carried away.  Other times it's like a mask, an oxygen tank to keep us alive as we are thrust down into the deep dark parts of the ocean.  And every once in a while it raises us up to take floating steps right across the crashing surf.

If you follow jesus long enough - you eventually walk on water

And so here we are - in this world, walking alongside darkness and brokenness, but carrying inside of us something whole and full of light.  The evil one keeps trying to lock our hands together with all the sin that we brush up against.  We feel it - the oppression that is just waiting to grab onto us with both hands and pull us down into the rushing waters.

On days like these I am tempted to flee this world.
To flee the problems with no apparent solutions.
To flee the people I don't know how to 'fix'.

And then I return to the truth - the thing that sets me apart...and sets me free.

Today in the truth of that prayer recorded by Jesus' beloved disciple I don't find the word 'flee' one single time.
Instead I find Jesus speaking one word over me like a gentle nudge...


In those 26 short verses, he repeats it seven times - sent.

As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

And so I go, as I am sent.
I do not flee.  

And why?
Because I have been sent with a purpose.

Today when faced with the choice - fight or flight?  I fight.
But I don't step into the battle unarmed.  The truth is my protection.
And I do it not for myself, but for the world - to whom i have been sent.