Anguish. I now have a word for it. It's not a word we hear very often..especially in this context.
I came across this message, and although cheesy music and open displays of emotion usually make me queezy, this impacted me.
Mr. Wilkerson put into words the things that I've been wrestling with. Intimate union with the Spirit of God brings a mysterious dichotomy of both inexplicable joy and heart breaking agony. Even more mysterious is that joy is born in agony.
That realization struck me because, I now have a name for it.
I have been reading and studying in the book of Nehemiah on and off for about a year now. For some reason God has been bringing me back to that somewhat obscure book of the Bible.
Years ago I sincerely prayed that my heart would be broken by the things that break God's heart. I not only prayed it, I yearned for it.
Little did I know what it was like to go through life with a broken heart. In God's heart there is no apathy, ignorance or arrogant disdain. His is a heart of passion. Not reckless or given to fits and starts..... but steady and unchanging passion.
God's heart anguishes over the child who sleeps in the streets of a slum...fighting off the cold and gnawing hunger by sniffing chemicals.
God's heart anguishes over broken families. People who are supposed to love, forgive and protect each other ... consuming, biting and abandoning one another.
God's heart anguishes over the child who is abused and discarded. The child who doesn't know where his next bed will be or if anyone will ever love him.
God's heart breaks over greed, over sin, over injustice, over cruelty...
Enough that he came to redeem us out of our own mess. So often we think of the cross as merely physical. The nails piercing his hands. I think they pierced his heart even more.
How can we take the name of Christ and not also be broken over those things?
How can we sit in our comfy pews, sing our songs, and then go home unchanged by the Holy Spirit? It's so easy to put up our facades, paste on our smiles, paint our walls and on the inside be dead. A pretty painted tomb.
Satan wants nothing more than to make us impotent Christians. To make us apathetic, non confrontational , "I don't want to get involved" , or just plain too busy...kind of people.
When surrounded by ruin (close to home or much further away) do we feel God's agony over it? Not destructive worry, aimless concern, or bitter hostility..... but grief straight from the heart of God.
"You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."
The boundaries of Jerusalem had been destroyed. It's people were in danger. Nehemiah knew that this was not what God intended Jerusalem to be. Instead of a glorious city it was a heap of rubble.
Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed before God.
He didn't get ticked off or offended about the situation and then assume it was from God.
First came the agony and the love. Out of that came the calling and the action. He didn't have to be involved. He had a successful stress free life without caring about Jerusalem. It was the Isrealites own fault after all...hadn't they been warned? Hadn't they silenced the prophets? They had brought ruin on themselves, but still God grieved.
Nehemiah faced opposition, intimidation and ridicule because he knew what God's heart was for Jerusalem. Agony.
"Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
Love the orphaned. Be a voice for the voiceless. Fight for the oppressed. Pick up that first brick and begin to build.
.....but first seek the heart of God.
(disclaimer: I happen to like kick butt awesome music in church :). The bigger picture Mr. Wilkerson is trying to paint brought me to my knees. )