I saw him in the grocery store parking lot. The elderly gentleman could barely lift his feet. He trudged–no inched— along towards his car so slowly and shakily that it was painful to watch. He had a cane in one hand and he leaned on the trunk of a car with the other hand as he slid his feet forward ever so cautiously.
I was getting out of my car to go and help him when I realized he wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by a younger lady…maybe a daughter. She came up behind him and patted his shoulder. She held out her hand to him but he shook his head no. He did seem to perk up and gain a bit more confidence, though. It had to be because he knew she was right behind him. As he reached his side of the car, she ran in front of him to open the door and take his cane for him.
I didn’t realize I’d been holding mine until he sat down and let out his own breath of releif. His companion turned on the air as he laid his head back against the seat and closed his eyes to rest.
And the Lord whispered to me…That’s you.
Uhh…come again? That’s me? I gave a little laugh as I got back into my own car. Lord, I love You. But I fail to see how I resemble the old man in any fashion. That’s a good one, though!
Then He said again…That’s you. You stumble. You are limping.
And so my heart said…Okay Lord, I’m listening.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Mark 11:15
In the last four weeks alone, we as a society have quarreled endlessly over names like Duggar and Jenner, over flags, over rights, over what we find offensive. We have written articles, we have posted pictures, we have googled, and we have spoken the things mentioned above more than we have spoken publicly about Jesus. If we’re being honest, we’ve thought about them and what our response should be probably more than we’ve thought about the words and ministry of Jesus Christ and what our response should be. I know that I, for one, have worried much more about offending others that I’ve worried about offending Jesus, the One who is with me always. The One who knows my thoughts. The One who knows my sin.
When I see the state of the world we live in today, at times I am overwhelmed. I am saddened. I get discouraged. We are making bad choices. And then we are putting all of our efforts into throwing stones and arrows at those choices we disagree with instead of putting our effort into following the One who knew we’d be walking this path at this exact time in history. He knew what we’d be dealing with, friends. He put His children on earth in this day and time for a purpose.
And what is our purpose right now in the midst of all of this stuff that’s going on? First, I think it’s to worship God. In recent days, I’ve heard many Christians bemoaning the state of our nation and claiming that we’ve left God out of America. Of course, those of us who have a true relationship with God know that He’s always here with us, wherever we go, even in America on tough days full changes and arguing and laws and confusion. He’s the real One in charge here. He’s in the hearts of those who have received Him, and the Bible mentions something else we seemed to forget about lately…
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3.
He inhabits our praise. When we don’t know how to respond to the situations that are hitting America right now, we can praise Him. When we have opinions and convictions that aren’t shared by those around us, what can we do instead of fighting about it? We can praise God. We can praise Him with our actions, with our steadfast-ness, and with our love towards others, even those we don’t agree with. Because guess what? Fighting, yelling, and pointing fingers is not going to change the hearts of those walking the path of life near us. God is the only heart-changer alive. And He uses us to change lives for Him. He uses us to bring more people to His path instead of their own path. He uses our kindness, our loving instruction on the truth, and our caring actions to plant seeds of life, but He alone is the One who saves lives and changes hearts.
When our hearts are changed, when we ask Jesus to live there, our lives change. We begin to walk on a different path. The Bible says, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life” (Matthew 7:14). Our path isn’t always easy. When we change and focus on praising God with our lives, the path we are on becomes noticeable to others. In order to praise God with our lives, there are things we are called to give up. Things of this world, things we think will fill us up, things that will pass away. And just because the path leads to everlasting life doesn’t mean that it won’t be filled with hard steps and steep hills.
We will become tired at times. Our feet will fail often. Our hearts may begin to feel fear. Our own sin begins to weigh us down, our choices hurt us and those who are walking near to us. The planks in our eyes cause us to fall, especially when we are paying more attention to the specks in our brother’s eyes than where to place our feet. We start to stumble and limp from the bruises we’ve inflicted upon ourselves.
I don’t like for others to see me down. I don’t want people to think I’m limping because of my own faults, even though I am. And here comes the really honest part guys…
Right now I am really limping. Everywhere I look, I am seeing celebrations over things that should not be applauded. I am seeing hurtful words where there could be praise to our Maker instead. I am seeing sin. And then I am seeing judgement from one sinner to another. And I am left confused.
Lord? Do you want me to say something? Do you want me to do something? Because I don’t think it will matter much. Lord? I fell down today. I am limping now. My feet have blisters. I made someone else fall. I’m sorry. This is hard. What do I do, Lord?
And it will always happen when I call. He will immediately remind me that I don’t walk alone… You are not alone. I see the confusion. I see the decisions. I see the fighting. I see the sin. I’ve already worn the sin, remember? I am walking with you. I am behind you, patting your back. I am in front of you, cheering you on, running ahead to prepare you a resting place. I am beside you, holding you up when you are too weak to take another step. I am wiping the sweat from your brow. Give the heaviness to Me. Give me your sin, your confusion. When you don’t know which direction to go in, which step to take next, I will direct you. Keep walking, child. I love you…Come on. Let’s go.
And it’s true, friends. We are not alone. God is with us on this path that is filled with temporary fights that will eventually pass away. He reminds us in 1 John 2:17 that “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” That means that one day soon, we won’t be thinking about what happened with Josh Duggar or Bruce Jenner and how we should respond. We won’t be holding on to our offense at the hanging up or removal of confederate and rainbow flags. We won’t be worried over the proper response to the sin around us, whatever kind of sin it may be (because we are all born with it in some way or another). We will be focused on one thing, and that is Jesus Christ and what we did with Him on this path. And then our limping will be over!
Until that day, if you see me limping and staggering, will you come over and pat me on the back? Because I will for you. If I’m able, I will run ahead of you and pull out a chair for you to sit on. I’ll try to find a big leaf to fan over you! 🙂 I will cheer you on. I will hold your hand. I will show you love and we can praise Jesus with each step we take. Let’s limp together, okay? Who’s with me?