Friday, February 03, 2006

More Good from Scars

Last weekend, during two different worship celebrations, I presented a message on Jesus Christ's call for all who follow Him to a life of messy transformation. I talked about how Jesus Christ can free anybody of the things that imprison us, be they unhealthy habits or life-robbing addictions.

Then on Sunday night, as I try to do every week, I posted the message on the blog (see here). Several hours later, I received word of comments left with the message by a reader who calls himself, Falter Ego. He wrote:
I try to end every blog entry of my own by finding a random entry that is worthy of comment. Tonight, your entry was the first one I read, which if you read my blog at all you will see is very ironic.

I don't know yet what my higher power is. I have spent many years angry with God because of the frustrating pain my family and I have had to deal with. I have spent many more years secure in the decision that there is no such thing as one all powerful, all seeing, supreme being; certain that all who believe otherwise are fools.

But, I am certain today that although I may not have found my higher power, I just may have found my higher calling...helping those who suffer under the crushing weight of alcohol and substance abuse.

Thanks for your grace and your post.
I was moved beyond saying by reading those words, mainly for two reasons:
First, my message was a simple Word from Christ rooted in the Bible. Yet, a person not exactly sure of where he is spiritually and sometimes angry with God, was touched by it. That only underscores for me how wonderful and powerful God is, how desperately He wants to reach everyone with His transforming love, and how He can even use the meager words, prayerfully offered, of someone like me to touch another. That's humbling and inspiring and overwhelming all at once!
Second, the words of Falter, a recovering alcoholic, emphasized a great truth. It's seen in those amazing words near the end of his comments:

I just may have found my higher calling...helping those who suffer under the crushing weight of alcohol and substance abuse.
Pastor Rick Warren, in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, points out that it's from the painful experiences we endure in life that we develop character and the ability to fulfill a higher purpose in our living.

My own observation is that experiences that leave us with scars--emotional, psychological, spiritual, even physical--also can lead us to our own special, God-designed, God-blessed ministries. This is true whether the scars have come our way circumstantially or via our own bad choices.
The man who's fought with depression can help the friend caught up in the same battle.

The woman who's endured feelings of not being appreciated by spouse and family can reach out to another woman going through that experience.

The young teacher, freshly tempered by middle and high school years in which he was the class loser on whom everyone else dumped, can be that listening ear and encouraging voice to the nerds in his classroom.
Time and again, I've watched as those who have recovered from cancer have proven to be the very people to help others just diagnosed with the disease. And I always try to send recovering alcoholics to talk with people who've finally come to terms with the reality of their own addictions.

When we bear the scars of adversity, we're able to sympathize.

We're also to call others to the carpet, "speaking the truth in love," as the apostle Paul puts it in the New Testament.

I often call the Church, God's support group for recovering sinners. Relying on the power Jesus Christ makes available through the Holy Spirit, the people of the Church are called to "bear and share" each others' burdens. Christians are called to let our scars mandate our particular areas of service.

And that service isn't to be rendered only to those within the fellowship of the Church either.

The Savior Who died and rose to offer new life to all people has a heart that beats for all people everywhere. It's hard to imagine Jesus, Who said that the greatest commandment of all is to love God completely and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, would place a limit on the extent to which we Christians can share our sympathy.

The Lord Who moved beyond ethnic, religious, national, or societal boundaries to heal lepers, forgive Samaritans, free adulterers, and answer the prayers of Romans, also sets off His limitless Love and lordship within His people so that we can carry that fire into every darkened place on the planet.

On top of that, I believe that this amazing Savior also inspires others who've been scarred by life to ministries, even when they may not yet follow Him. After all, Jesus was more than a man. He is also God and He has no limits!

Whatever Falter's relationship with God right now, I'm sure that that God Who loves him more than I can express has given him a ministry to reach out those who've been scarred as he has been. I'm anxious to see how things unfold for his ministry in the years to come.

For now, all I can do is shake my head and say, "Isn't God amazing?"

[Read here for my earlier piece on thanking God for our scars.]

2 comments:

Pastor_Jeff said...

Mark,

I've linked to these two posts on scars and healing.

I imagine I can speak for you in saying that knowing God has used your words to bless someone else - well, it doesn't get any better than that.

You are a blessing. Thank you for sharing you.

Mark Daniels said...

Thank you, Jeff, for linking to these pieces.

You're right that knowing that something one writes is helpful to others is a huge blessing. But of course, when I read what I write, I also realize that that has less to do with what I write than with how God uses what I write.

In any case, it's an incredible thing to be part of that interchange.

You too are a blessing, Jeff.

In Christ,
Mark