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John Simmons

 

I want to start this with a quote.

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”

Brennan Manning

I am absolutely and undeniably a believer in this. To sum up this quote it simply means, be vulnerable. This week, though I have had the opportunities to put myself out there in a more personal setting, I was given the opportunity to do this very thing on a corporate level. To say I was nervous was a major understatement. At one point I was going to go off on a theological spiel on forgiveness, not uncovering some of my past and my struggles. I went back a forth to such an extend I felt like the proverbial man  James talks about.  The one tossed back and forth by the raging waters of the sea. My emotions however would settle and in time God would give me peace and I decided to do the unthinkable, in my mind.

I wont go into all the details but what blew me away was the reaction after service when people began to come up and open themselves up to me about there past, their struggles, and then praise God in knowing that they aren’t alone. One of the most detrimental things the church has ever done is close the curtains on any sense of vulnerability. I had one gentlemen tell me about how his wife prayed for him for years. He was at one point a complete full blown alcoholic and through the constant support of his wife would come to such a fruitful loving relationship with Jesus. He would leave right after his last word and the whole time I was thinking. The very love that she imitated to him, God does for us EVERYDAY. It was beautiful.

In my teenage years I felt I was the only one that struggled. I can remember so many times sitting in “church services” were the Spirit was allegedly moving. People laid out all over the building almost like God threw a grenade right in the middle of the sanctuary and the shock waves of the blast knocked everyone flat on their face. Then you would hear some church leader get on the mic and declare “If you aren’t feeling anything then there has to be something wrong with your heart. Run to the alter and pray! Ask God to clean your heart!” All the while why my heart is already screaming in agony that I would somehow someway experience the Love of God. Because I felt so out of place I was so afraid of opening up with my struggles to my brothers and sisters. It was hard, and it was so lonely.

Do not deny the healing gift of your past from impacting those around you. Personally in my life I have never really been impacted:

How holy one is (except Christ of course)

How much scripture someone has memorized

How well known the preacher is

How good of a speaker that preacher is

How eloquent their prayers are

None of it. None of it has ever been grace. However, you show me a individual who understands the journey of this life and its struggles and there you will find a man who trusts in nothing more than just the simple, profoundly scandalous Love of God. You will find an individual who understands the beauty of being vulnerable. There you will find MUCH grace, because through the struggles of his life he realizes that the mountain of his iniquity compares not to the infinitude of God’s unwavering love.  And because of this Love, the very compassion he was extended, he now extends to you. Suddenly you experience the heart of God and how He was always seen you, right in the middle of your struggle. When Christ looked upon the crowds, what was the lens in which He used? Compassion. We must do the same.

We are meant to bare each others burdens. Not alone, but in community.

I pray this encourages you this day.

With much love

John

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