I am writing you this virtual letter because I don't go to the post-office ever. Also I don't have your addresses or any spare time. Also there are a lot of you. But I wanted to tell you how excited I am for this week of blogging. My friend from college wrote a book. It's a really good book, and you might have heard of it. It was so good that he wrote a second book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First, which debuts today. I had the privilege of reading it ahead of time so that I could share my experience with you this week. For the next 4 days I'll be posting here (and on the I Am Second blog) about the week I read (and worked) through the section on "Struggles." (Intense.)
That's what's up! I hope you enjoy my stories.
Day 1 of Kate's Live Second journey. Sign up to follow as Kate and 14 other bloggers dare to Live Second for 60-Days-of-Second. Start your own journey and get the Live Second book in stores December 9.
You want to know what's really cool about snagging the Live Second week on "Struggles?" You open up your book and see this.
You want to know what's really NOT cool about snagging the Live Second week on "Struggles?" You might actually have to confront your struggles. Publicly. On the internet.
My experience with Live Second began with this powerful video and a powerful story packed with powerful truths. But hidden in the account of all of that mountain-moving power (read it here) is an ugly, condemning reality.
We would deny another man healing from the litany of demons that torment him because, to be honest, it's weird for God to work that way - to go around healing crazy people, rearranging demons, and sending massive herds of pigs into lakes. Surely there's a way to bring peace and harmony to the world without making such a scene.
We think, "I'm not sure I want healing in these here parts if healing involves drowning 2,000 pig demons."
Or, to bring it home, "I'm not sure I want healing if healing means I have to confess - out loud to another person - my addiction. If it means the humiliation of another person knowing my thoughts and my selfish motivations. If it means actually feeling sorry and not just saying it. If it means discipline. I don't know if I want healing all that badly if it means I have to live second."
But that's the condition. It always has been. Jesus says, "Here's the deal. You give me all your ugly, and I will destroy it and give you all my beauty in its place. Give me your weariness and I'll give you my rest. Give me your sin and I'll give you my purity. Give me your selfishness and I'll give you my compassion. Give me your anger and I'll give you my grace."
Christianity is an upside down, inside out way of being. It bucks against everything in our nature, against every instinct of self-preservation. Christianity says lose yourself; yourself is messed up. Take Christ instead. Jesus can deliver from legions of demons, but it will look illogical and upside down. It will look like living second in a world that thinks second is foolish.
I'm wary of using a metaphor here, because it's clear that Jesus delivered this man from literal demons (and delivers us still), but it is significant that this demon's name was Legion, because there were many. I suspect that you are like me. I suspect that you don't need deliverance from one demon, you need deliverance from many.
Oh, I don't know: consumerism, materialism, self-pity, vanity, selfishness, pride, unbelief, lust, discontentment, greed, gluttony, laziness, unforgiveness, fear... You know, just off the top of my head.
The beautiful, liberating, powerful truth is this: that whole daunting legion of demons cowers before Christ's mercy. He is able to deliver from each of them - from all of them. The problem is, we tend to say, "Jesus, come into my life! I need you! Welcome to my inmost being! I'm just going to have to ask that you not move anything around in here."
Or at least, that's what I've said to God this week.
God: Confess your attitudes and thoughts to your husband. Me: I can't. He'll think it's all my fault...
God: Let me work in your heart during church. Me: But they'll see me crying. I'm still too new here; they don't love me enough yet. I'm a pastor's wife. I can't...
God: Ask your friend for forgiveness. Me: It's water under the bridge, from too long ago. I can't.
All week I've whimpered, "I can't, I can't, I can't." And all week God gently whispered back,
"Kate, so that you may be healed."
Sweet, sweet healing; it's all any of us really want. I hate my struggles, my demons. They are suffocating and oppressive and they peck away at the best parts of me. And so, the most significant moment in my Live Second journey was this:
It was the moment Jesus, merciful Jesus, ready and able to deliver me from all of my wretched demons, lovingly asked me,
Why are you holding on so tightly to something you hate so much?
My challenge to you this week is this: Don't be those townspeople. I'm sure they weren't bad people; they were probably really normal and sensible. But don't be embarrassed for Jesus; don't be afraid to let him heal you. Don't be afraid to believe that he can heal the people around you from demons - serious demons, like meth addiction.
Don't be so off-put by how it looks that you forfeit the only thing that will make your life right again.
Jesus is merciful. Jesus is able. He is faithful to heal and redeem the ugliest, most scarred and oppressed bits of your life. He will turn everything upside down in doing so -
but you should let Him.