Yesterday, I was undone. It was Sunday. Resurrection Day. But Resurrection was a long way away. My heart was dark and shifty and felt like it was drowning, being held under swirling, grimy water by an unrelenting, evil hand.
But we sat among friends. I heard the Gospel reading from the lectionary for the day. Miska led us in a contemplative prayer, helping us to “image” our prayer rather than “word” our prayer. We sang this refrain: “Oh, how he loves us.” Tears came as I realized I don’t really believe that line. I believe it factually. I believe it theologically. I would pick that answer on a test. But I don’t believe it, not in my gut, not in the places that matter most. But the words kept coming, from the screen, from the voices all around me. And I cried.
And then we passed the peace. In our church, we hug or shake hands (usually hug) and say something like “Peace to you” or “Peace of Jesus to you.” One and then two and three and four and five people came to me – Miska first. Only Miska knew where my heart was, but each physically offered Jesus to me…in a touch…with their voice. And the tears came again.
Next, I was supposed to teach. From John 11. The story of Lazarus’ death and Mary and Martha’s deep agony and disillusionment because Jesus refused to come when they had pleaded with him to do so. This is a strange story of bewilderment and disappointment and a God who doesn’t do what we expect. A God who lets Lazarus die. Who allows Mary to weep. A God who grows angry and then weeps himself. And a God who, when all is said and done, truly was (as he said) “the resurrection and the life.”
I was a mess. My story is no story of spiritual victory. Just spiritual brokenness. The Gospel (through friends and text and music and touch and sacrament) broke through, spoke to me, breathed hope into me. But I was still undone, still wounded, still wondering. My choice was whether or not I would give from that place. Whether I would weep and tell the truth. Or whether I would lie.
Thankfully, God didn’t really give me a choice. I stood, and the tears came. It was pretty humbling, but if church truly is community…If God truly is center stage…Then what we bring to the moment should really just be ourselves, hoping for the Gospel, desperate for Jesus. God wasn’t going to let me wiggle free yesterday. When you’re standing in front of your church blubbering, it’s pretty hard to hide or pretend or tell a cutesy story and move on. Left to myself, I might have chosen a safer, more dishonest path. But God wasn’t going to have it.
Resurrection only comes in ways God chooses. For Lazarus. For us.
I don’t entirely like these words that follow. But I’m beginning to believe them. I’m beginning to hope God will give me the courage to let loose of myself (my reputation, my leadership, my image) and embrace them:
I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. Henri Nouwen
Jesus’ peace to you,
8 Replies to “Undone”
I believe deeply in the profound work that God is doing in you,and I celebrate how the life of Christ is being released in and through you.
Winn, I appreciate your honesty yesterday – your courage and your tears (and no that’s not me wishing tears or any of that on you). That quality in your heart and in your teaching is one of the things that God uses to help me really let the Gospel in. A kindred struggling, I guess. I’m pretty sure Jeromie would agree.
winn — I’m reading this and I’m not sure exactly what to say. I know that I want to be there to offer a hug and words of peace.
because you are honest winn, you inspire us to have hope in truth. it would be so much easier to fake it all, and in so doing destroy that part of our heart that seeks and longs for truth.
thanks for your courage and refusal to pretend.
your willingness (even if humanly reluctant at times) to allow the Spirit to work through you points us all to Jesus and to God and to goodness. thank you.
It’s ok Winn, most of us were crying right along with you. I mean, I’m not gonna say who specifically…
And by the way, I think I missed the blubbering part. All I got out of Sunday was a passionate, honest, and basically awesome message.
I preached the same exact passage this last Sunday, Winn. My spin was a little different as seeing a God who understands that it is more important that we understand Him then that we are comfortable.
May God be glorified in you..
This is who I know you to be my friend. God is moving, freeing you to accept His boundless love for you. Continue to take the risk of abandoning yourself to Christ and watch the reality of His love flow through your veins.
A gift was given and received. Death was overcome for a moment (even if brief) and the God of the universe was in our midst.
Let Him Come.