After I was saved I jumped both feet forward into ministry. Women poured into my inbox with questions about their marriages, questions about mine, about things that hurt them, about the people I had hurt and even about those that hurt me, and what I thought Jesus meant by it all. One girl, though, she was different than the others. She wanted to know why I believed what I believed.
I wish that I remembered who it was or why her heart was hurting because now I feel more prepared to answer questions. I still remember the feeling of heat that made its way up my neck when I read her question and realized I didn’t have a very articulate answer.
I gave her what I had.
“Because things changed, and they haven’t changed back yet.”
She asked what I meant, and I told her I wasn’t sure I could explain it. My heart was different. I wasn’t just broken over myself, even more so I hurt for people that I knew were like the girl I was only the day before. The girl that just knew she was going to heaven, but wasn’t… the girl that didn’t know she wouldn’t have “made it in” until she did. I told her I felt a heavy urgency to tell people about the things that won’t save them. More than anything else, I cried over that. I cried for the Matthew 7’s I knew. I told her that life had not given me many reasons to believe in good things, but I believed in this change because it wasn’t one I asked for or worked at, It was just one that showed up.
She told me that this was probably the most honest answer she had ever received from a Christian, and that God must be real because she could feel that my answer was.
“When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.” Luke 23:8-9
“But when He was accused. by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave no answer, not even a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed” Matthew 27:11-14
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7
“He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from? But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have the authority to release you and the authority to crucify you? John 19:9-10
Why didn’t Jesus answer their questions?
Why didn’t he tell them who He was, tell them where He was from, tell them what He was sent to do, tell them… anything in response to their assumptions, their accusations, or their actions?
Because after Jesus cried out, committing His spirit, the Roman soldier praised God and proclaimed the Innocence of Jesus. (Luke 23:46-48)
Because one of the two criminals recognized that Jesus was not only innocent, but the coming Kingdom of Christ. It was his dying wish that Jesus remember him too. (Luke 23:41-43)
Even before the Gospel was the Gospel, even in the darkest hour, even right before and immediately after death claimed its momentary victory- No response was enough to tell of the character of Jesus for those who wanted to see it, for those desperate for it, and even for those that were just there as spectators.
and then the tomb was empty, the news became good, and Christ is risen.
Friends, No response is required; the Gospel is enough.
The Gospel is enough when God hasn’t provided the sophisticated answers we wish we had. The why’s or the why nots, the when, and the hows.
The Gospel is enough in our waiting.
The Gospel is enough in our hurting.
This Gospel is enough for us, but this is only half of the Good news.
The Gospel is also enough for them.
“Because things changed, and they haven’t changed back yet.”
Honestly, I don’t suspect they will.
Let me show you.
Myers Briggs defines personalities by four pairs of opposite traits making up sixteen possible combinations.
Using the non-dominant hand, write your name on a piece of paper. Consideration should be given to both time and effort as well the outcome. Now, applying the same considerations, write your name with your dominant hand. The purpose of the exercise demonstrates while we can do many things, some come naturally while others require more time, effort, and a fair amount of concomitant angst.
We are who we are, and we can be other things… but it’s hard for us.
A social media post from this week read this way “At 25, I’m the woman my 15 year old self would’ve loved to be in the company of”
Because I’m not close to 25, excuse me while I age our example. I can tell you the 20 year old me would have laughed at me. She was a girl that still had a way with words, but she probably used them to make a clever rhyme about you to make you feel small. If you’ve known her for long enough, odds are you were either the nucleus of one such rhyme or asked her to make you one of your own about someone else. She was smart too, but she didn’t use it to help people, she used it to manipulate them. She was still honest, but handed words out with knives and not sincerity. She was not a good person, she did not do good things, and she hurt alot of people- some that probably could have used a bruised ego, but most of them that didn’t.
We could argue that it was the miles of childhood trauma, the things she experienced, the things she lost, or the things she never had and with a short search of google scholar, probably have statistics to support it; but I bet if you asked her, she would probably tell you those didn’t make her who she was, just how fast she grew.
She would also tell you she is still that girl- a way with words, smart, honest, still a sinner, just a saved sinner- its how she writes her name with her dominant hand. Her habits are different not because she has changed, her heart has.
The Gospel was enough for her.
There are people in your life right now that are talking about you. They don’t like you and they may not point but the do whisper. Maybe they don’t like you by association or maybe they don’t like you because of who you were before your habits changed like mine did.
You’re too much for some people and not enough for others. Maybe they heard some things, and thought it would be rude to just ask you, so they just told other people what they heard instead.
Some people will use your failures to elevate them selves, at work and in life too because in order for them to be good, that has to mean that you are bad. And sometimes it is because you have been bad, and for all the other times, it is really just about how the story is told, which pieces to leave out, which pieces to add, and which pieces to move around out of order to best position the one playing their character because, let’s face it, once you tell “your side” of the story thats all it really is anyway.. a story.
People will miss out on important things in their own lives to intentionally try to hurt you in yours. They will do things to poke at you, and say things not because they are really true, but just in the off chance that, even for a moment, you may feel less-than. There’s also the chance they’ve told themselves all of these things so frequently that they are sure that the things they think and feel are true, but its all the same to you, right? whether they’re mean because it’s real for them or whether they’re grabbing at straws to just make you hurt. It still feels the same.
Even still, God is rooting for their hearts.
He is leaving us in vulnerable spaces just like the one I am pouring into before you now, fully expecting us to know that no response is required, fully expecting us to meet these adversaries with forgiveness, kindness, and love, fully expecting us to invite them into the kingdom with us today. no matter what. right now because people die from things not wrinkles every single day.
If I share the trajectory of my dad’s life, I have just over three years left.
How many years do you have left if you die at 36?
Three years to mother my children into real human beings, three years to make a lifetime of memories with my spouse, three years left to reconcile with anyone I wouldn’t want to leave behind with things unsaid, three years left to make a difference.
I’m a planner and a highly productive one…if I knew I only had three years left I could probably get some things done, but reality is any of you could wake up with my obituary plastered on your facebook news story before end of the week because I died in a car accident at the Mathiston, MS 4-way.
Reality is, I could also wake up to yours.
So many are still being ruled by our first heart, the one that sits on the throne of self, of entitlement, of validation. The pen- it is in the wrong hand. You won’t know what I am talking about until you do, but there is a recognizable shift- when the pen shifts from the hand that first picked it up to the one God made to hold it. There comes a time when it’s just different. Doing good feels different, doing bad feels different. The person is still in there, but the source changed.
God has left us here, the 99 and He is chasing those hearts one at a time. Maybe He will claim victory over one of those hearts that are causing you pain, maybe even one that is causing mine, but until then- don’t give up on them.
Pick up your cross, bind them up in your prayers, and keep straight the path for the Gospel to work.. Because. It. Works.
The Gospel is Enough.
For you. For them. For us.
The Gospel never needed our defense; It needs our commitment.