December 14, 2013 § 3 Comments
A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Just this week a young pastor in Florida took his own life. It is a tragedy. He was our son and daughter-in-law’s pastor until last year when his personal life began to unravel publicly. He was both gifted and brilliant. But he carried pain.
His dad (also a pastor) and I have corresponded since things began to fall apart last year. My initial contact was to encourage him with what his son had been to ours. Some years ago, at a crucial point in our son’s life, this young man took time out of his crazy schedule to field his questions about life and faith and ministry – We will always be in his debt, and nothing that has transpired since will take that away. At this point I have no words – only sadness.
And I am freshly reminded that as long as the world is broken, people will be too – you – me – everyone. We carry our pain.
The Advent cry is God’s gift to the broken. We long for healing and wholeness, when we will no longer walk the earth in the confusing tension of secret shame, besetting sin and genuine hope. The insecurities, weaknesses, ‘demons’ and struggles we carry are real – they are our right-now reality.
But our hope is every bit as real, and because of Jesus we live in the promise of what we will one day be, when He will come and make everything new.
What you need to know is that God is okay with this. He isn’t the One expecting you to be perfect – you are. And that isn’t helpful (it also isn’t righteous!).
Jesus has come and He is coming. Until He does, He has given us the assurance that His grace is sufficient. It is ‘from the fullness’ of this grace, and not our ability to keep it all together, that we receive ‘one blessing after another’ (John 1:16).
With full view of our flaws, sins and failures, Jesus extends Himself.
Friends, this is good news…
peace on earth.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Christina Rossetti, In the Bleak Midwinter