I was sitting in my corner of the couch tonight minding my own business, working through my Bible Study as usual. I read the assigned chapters in Psalms and sat with them for a few minutes (I can’t really call this meditation. Actually, I just have to read them two or three times because as soon as I get through them I’ve already forgotten what they said. Maybe I’ll tell you about my short-term memory issues in another post some day.)
Anyway, I had moved on to the study book and read the Day 5 prayer the instructor supposedly has prayed for all those who are currently involved in this particular Bible study at this particular time. I never had much regard for typed out prayers, especially if I don’t personally know the person who claims to have prayed them, but, dang! if all of a sudden my eyes weren’t opened up to a total O.M.G. truth bomb. If I hadn’t already been sitting down, I would have fallen on my knees!
I had just read (in the prayer) something about cracking any hard shell of indifference. And that’s when it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. I have a shell of indifference. I know what you’re thinking. At least I know what my good friends are thinking. They’re thinking, “What? YOU, Stephanie, have a shell of indifference?” And to that, I would say, “I know, right? Who knew?” Well, obviously not me, which is why my Father in heaven, who loves me too much to leave me in my comfortable darkness, took this opportunity to break into my neat little world and mess it up again. And by the way, so much for my opinion of typed out prayers.
Here’s the thing: As holy and spiritually “enlightened” as I like to think I am and mostly pretend to be, I realized that there are still areas in which I still allow myself to slumber. I still want Christianity to be free, to cost me nothing. I still want Christianity to be easy. You know, go to church, smile and be nice, say something wise to someone (which is easy when you’re over 60 yrs old and you’ve been around the church as long as I have), and go home. Maybe pray for some people during the week, stay connected in a very non-committal sort of way, and Boom! Bob’s your uncle and you’re a very good Christian.
Suddenly, it dawned on me. I’ve been saying that Christ is my Rock and my Fortress for years. Anytime someone would hurt my feelings or wrong me in some way I would run to Jesus and whine about it. “Jesus, did you hear what they said to me? Make me feel better.” You don’t need a Rock of Refuge when your feelings get hurt. You don’t need a Fortress when someone wrongs you. Many of today’s colleges have “safe spaces” for students to go when they need to process their feelings. That’s what we need when get our feelings hurt. A “safe space.” (Can you hear the sarcasm?)
A Rock of Refuge is a place of protection from enemies. A place to hide when evil – real evil – is hunting you down. A Fortress is a place you go when you need protection from an enemy who is trying. To. Kill. You. That’s what Jesus is to us. Why would we need that if we are not in a real (spiritual) war? And fighting against a real enemy? My goodness, I’ve been looking at my Rock and my Fortress as a safe space to lick my play wounds from my play hard life. How blind am I? (Maybe now isn’t the time for me to ask that.)
Christianity, true Christ-following, cross-carrying, Christianity can’t be free. It must cost you something or it isn’t worth anything. And it can’t be easy. War is never easy!
It’s time to get real people. This isn’t going away tomorrow. Or probably not even by next month. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better – if it gets better. I don’t want to be a Negative Nellie, I just don’t know the plan. But I do know that we need to get real with ourselves and get real with Jesus, because the world is about to get real with us and we aren’t going to know what hit us. We are going to find out what it means to need a Rock of Refuge and a Fortress. As Americans we’ve had it so good for so long, that we have no clue what atrocities happen all over the world, because we’ve been protected for generations upon generations. I have a feeling that’s about to change.
Jesus is our only hope. He’s the only way we get out of this thing alive. That’s something else I’ve said for years and I’m hearing myself say it now in a whole new light. Now I’m going to type out a prayer that I’m going to pray for everyone who reads this. My whole perspective on typed-out prayers has also changed. Yep. You read it here first. Please ask God to open your eyes to the truth he wants you to see.
Oh, and please forgive me for pretending to be more spiritual than I really am. I guess I still have a ways to go.
Ps 18:2, 31:2, 59:16, 71:3 Pr 14:26
Father, will you open the eyes of those reading this to the truths you want them to see. Break through the hard places they have constructed and fill them with your light. Speak to them in ways they have not heard before. Find the pain that keeps them from experiencing the freedom you bring and heal them. Holy Spirit, guide them in all truth and bring light into the hidden places in their soul. Sing over them your songs of deliverance so they might step into the life you intended for them as you formed them in their mother’s womb. Set your peace in their heart and bless their homes. Amen