Category Archives: Common Experience
Friday had been the most difficult day ever. While it started out with a praise service in the Garden, it quickly turned to a dizzying sequence of arrest, skirmish, scattering and disbelief. Then, it was a joke of a trial, a campfire that still didn’t truly warm you, and denial (3 times).
Before you knew it, your Master had been brought before government officials, scourged, mocked, spat upon, and the increasingly growing crowds are screaming for His blood. Yes, Friday was a day you will never be able to forget, no matter how hard you try. The humiliation. The degradation.
The images of your Master being beaten to a bloody pulp, struggling to carry that heavy cross beam up the hill to the place of the Skull are surpassed only by the images of the spikes being driven in His hands and feet just before He is lifted up, high above the city, outside the city gates. There, the Master is hung out to die.
Too much to comprehend.
Hearing His cries of anguish still haunts you. But hearing Him say, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they are doing” is haunting as well. Forgive them? Seriously? Then, as the skies grew dark and the whole earth seemed to shake, He gave up His spirit and died. The Master died. Too much to comprehend.
Waiting, praying for God to intervene, and wondering why He didn’t answer those prayers, now it is Saturday, and the shock has not begun to wear off. You are numb to your very soul. “Why, God? What possible good could come from this? How could You allow the Master to be crucified?”
You keep praying, but God does not seem to answer. The silence is deafening. You are broken in every possible way. You wait.
Still, no clear answer seems to be forthcoming, so you wait.
Your fellow followers of the Master are scattered, but slowly start coming back to a place with which you are all familiar. Hushed sobs fill the air. No one dares speak aloud. All are wondering the same thing: why? What next? Still, no clear answer seems to be forthcoming, so you wait.
You are exhausted from the events of the past 36 hours, but sleep does not come. More crying out to God, “why, God? What do we do now?” Still, no reply. So you do the only thing you know you can do at this moment. You wait.
You have no idea what is coming next, but you are trying desperately to trust God Who knows all and will work all things for the good. At least that’s what you learned over the past three years from sitting at the feet of your Master. Still, it just doesn’t seem like ANYTHING good could possibly come from the events of the past day and a half. You would LOVE to drift off to sleep just for a respite from the anguish, but sleep eludes you. So, you wait.
Friday is done. Saturday is fading away. Sunday is coming. Wait.
30-some years ago, we were introduced to Jim and Debbie Reeves. As folks coming in new to Westwood Christian Church, our senior minister Don Boswell formed a group of young married couples to study Scripture and do life together. We met at Jim and Debbie’s house.
While we enjoyed all the couples in that group, a special bond formed between the Reeves’ and us. We found ourselves hanging out together outside of “church related functions.” I had our kids call Debbie “Grandma Debbie” (because she is a couple months older than me) from the get-go. People would ask if Debbie and Peggy were sisters, to which they would quickly answer, “YES!” We have a bond that goes far deeper than friendship. We are family.
We shared with each other in the ups and downs of raising our kids, and we share in the joys and heartaches of grandparenthood now. We can go months without communicating with one another, yet pick up like we just spoke earlier in the day. We are family.
Jim and Debbie come to Florida a couple times a year now. They have a “retirement home” about two hours away from us (long story that is not important to this blog), and while neither are retired yet, they are making plans along those lines for the “near future.”
We had the privilege of spending some time with them last weekend, while they were here in Florida. We ate (way too much). We watched KY basketball. The girls shopped. You see, Stein Mart was having this “huge sale” that they just could not resist.We ate. We cat-napped around the house. We had deep, meaningful, spiritual discussions. We talked about stuff that made us laugh and had no eternal significance at all. We ate. We just relished each others’ company. Oh yeah, and we ate.
We have established a few “local spots” where we like to eat, and the trick is trying to hit them all any time Jim and Debbie are here with us. We failed to hit them all, but it was not for a lack of trying!
While Debbie and Peggy are not biological sisters, we all are related by Blood. It is the Blood of Christ which binds us together. The common interests we have, the common sense of humor we share, the bonds that endear Jim and Debbie to us are all because of our shared love for Jesus. We are truly blessed to call Jim and Debbie family, and honored that they feel the same about us.
God created us all to crave community. We were not designed to follow Jesus on our own. We need people who share our values and faith, but who also share our likes, sense of humor, and goals in life.
Make no mistake about it. I love being a husband, a dad, a Pop Pop. I love my biological brothers and sister. I love Peggy’s sister. I love our biological family. Those are important roles I play in life. But I love being a brother to Jim and Debbie Reeves. They have made and continue to make this journey called life such a pleasure.
I pray that you have someone in your life like that. If not, you are missing out on one of the biggest blessings God could every bestow upon you. Our BFFs absolutely make our lives a more rich and rewarding experience.
How about you? I would love to hear about your BFFs and the impact on your life. Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section below.
Forgiveness. Perhaps the foundation issue to living in Christ and for Christ. Oh, we are all plenty eager to accept the forgiveness of our sins from Jesus. However, when it comes to forgiving others…well, I don’t know about you, but that is an area of struggle for me far more often than I like to admit.
Recently, one of our Elders came to me in between services to pass along some information regarding a particularly nasty complaint. The Elder was apologetic for doing so at that time, but felt it was important enough to have the mini discussion with me right then. I love this Elder dearly and am so glad for his leadership and his example of Christ-like love. The nature of the complaint he was passing along is irrelevant, but the impact it had on me…well. I got through the next worship service, and then gathered a few guys to discuss the situation. Let’s just say that the party who was “guilty” of the “offense” handled it in a much more mature manner than I had.
As I have had a few days to pray about this situation, as well as to discuss it further with a few trusted brothers and sisters in Christ, I know that first and foremost, I must forgive the “complaint-ant.” What they said was extremely immature and extremely hurtful. You might even say it was blackmailish in nature. My initial reaction was no better. I was angry and bitter. I am repenting through many steps including writing this blog post in the interest of transparency and seeking forgiveness. I am also extending forgiveness unconditionally.
As I continue my Bible reading plan, “Immersion Into Colossians,” This verse has been screaming loudly in my ear since Sunday morning:
I need to do better in the forgiveness business. I believe that true forgiveness has a few characteristics that set it apart from merely accepting an apology or some other half measure.
Forgiveness is NOT excusing sinful behavior. Remember when Jesus spoke with the woman “caught in adultery” (John, chapter 8)? The crowd had dispersed, and Jesus asked if anyone condemned her. No one did, and Jesus said that neither did he, admonishing her to go and leave her life of sin. She was forgiven unconditionally, but told to repent and start her life anew. My job is not to save anyone from their sins, but to forgive them and point them to Jesus by the way I live my life.
Forgiveness is healing. When we extend forgiveness to others, the burden of anger, bitterness, resentment, etc. is alleviated. We are free from emotions that will take us further away from Christ, and can therefore concentrate on walking more closely with our Lord.
Forgiveness is unconditional. Even to the point of not needing an apology from the party which has offended you. Forgiveness is a willful act of love extended even to someone who doesn’t ask for it (or deserve it).
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. While God forgives and forgets, it pays for us to remember even after forgiveness has been issued. We may need to put ourselves in position to not allow a similar set of circumstances to occur in the future. Remembering wrongs done to us while truly forgiving the offender is simply a safeguard.