I went to a concert tonight in my friend's living room. There were about 70 of us there. It was a celebration of sorts. You see, today is the anniversary of their sons death, at age 7 from a brain tumor. It is a painful time for all concerned. Yet it was a celebration too. We were celebrating what God had done through this tragedy. My friends truly believe "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."
The concert was kind of a closure to a project that they have been working on. In the aftermath of their son's death, God laid something on their hearts. So for a few months now, they have been raising money to purchase a well that will provide clean drinking water for 150 people through World Vision. http://www.firstgiving.com/ianthomashenderson Guess what? They now have enough funds to purchase 3 wells...and more funds are still coming in. (Feel free to donate because there is still time. Just click on that link.)
450 people at least, will now have access to clean water on a daily basis.
That might sound odd to you at first glance, but consider the following facts. #1. 1 out of 6 people on this planet...that would be one BILLION people do not have access to clean water everyday. #2. Every 15 seconds, a child somewhere dies because of that lack of clean water. #3. 800,000,000 people go to bed hungry ever night.
(Joseph Stalin, the worlds second greatest mass-murderer once said that one death is a tragedy, but one million deaths is just a statistic. That's a sad statement. But too often it is true.)
The fellow who performed tonight is a guy named Jason Gray. http://jasongraymusic.com/home Three things you should know about Jason Gray. #1. He is a REALLY good guitar player & singer. #2. He is REALLY funny. #3. He is REALLY tall. I think that my favorite song of his is titled "Blessed Be."
"Losers. All the lovely losers.
Who never thought you'd hear their name.
Outside. Always on the outside.
Empty at the wishing well.
But time will tell.
the ones who know that they are weak.
They shall see
the kingdom come to the broken ones.
Thirsty, like you're drinking from a salt sea.
But one day you'll be satisfied.
Hungry, for the taste of mercy.
If you could have your fill,
and one day you will.
Not for the strong,
Not for the ones who think they got it made.
It's for the poor, the broken, and the meek.
It's for the ones who look a lot like you and me."
What does it mean to be Broken anyway?
Well, it's two-fold. Essentially it has to do with a person coming face to face with their own flaws, sins and imperfections and understanding beyond a shadow of a doubt that, try as they might, there is nothing that they can do to fix it. The second part of being broken is understanding that if someone wants to remedy this situation, they have to turn their life over to Jesus. "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
There is no point in trying to earn God's favor or grace. You can't do it. And if you could, it wouldn't be GRACE anyway.
Here's the point. It really isn't about YOU. (Shocking, I know.) It's really about GOD. You can read any story in the Bible anywhere, and you will always find extremely flawed and imperfect people being used by God to bring him glory. The only hero in the Bible is God.
You might balk at that. But it's true. (Mostly, folks get irritated by that truth because deep down inside, we all wish that WE were God.) But if you can embrace that truth, it ends up being a very beautiful thing because all of a sudden there is a lot less weight on your back. You will feel much lighter and can probably stop stooping since you no longer feel the need to carry the world around on your shoulders. You can't really carry it anyway. So stop wasting time and just hand it all over to God.
ANYWAY, when and if you do get around to embracing your own brokeness, you might find that you now have time to partner with God, and advance his kingdom...and that feels really good, actually.
That's what tonight was all about. My friends, Tom & Deb, partnered with God on a project that God had laid on their hearts. This whole well project was done as a way to honor God for his mercy and love through this difficult time. Numerous people heard the Gospel for the first time and began to participate also. Not to mention the folks who now have access to clean water.
Tom & Deb did not do any of this as a way to curry or bargain favor from God. They didn't do it to earn Brownie Points. (Although, they did serve some delicious brownies and other treats at the show.) Nope, they just did this out of a thankful heart.
Only a broken person can shine. You shine by exhibiting the incomprehensible love of Jesus in your life...and that means in how you live out his love for you on a daily basis. (Don't worry about being perfect. You are not perfect even if you are in Christ. HE IS, though...so you got that covered. You and I are just works in progress.) Tom and Deb shine because they rejoice in their brokeness, and can then partner with God to do this good work...and it happens in that order only. You shine because God is polishing you, and he can't polish you until you turn you AND your crap over to him.
I suppose that sounds counter-intuitive to a culture that celebrates folks who pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. But when you are talking about the situation between you and God, your bootstrap ain't gonna cut it. Why would you want to struggle like that anyway, considering how God has already provided a perfect and painless way for you to be embraced by him?
The thing is, the folks who think they have it all together...and that includes the "Very Religious," don't really get it. They can't see or hear it, because they are so full of themselves that they have no room for God. That's why when Jesus began his epic "Sermon on the Mount" he opened with an announcement that God was on the side of all of the losers and sinners...the Poor in Spirit. Because they would be the only ones who could actually be able to hear God.
God was on the side of those people long before they even understood it. The Rich is Spirit, those who are very, very Religious, and those who think that they can do it all by themselves, can't hear Jesus' announcement because their brains are too stuffed with all their own striving and efforts.
Following Jesus is not some kind of "To-Do" list, or a ritual or formula that you check off. It's an actual relationship. A relationship where the creator of the universe asks you to give yourself over to him in trust, and embrace his love. When you do that, he will heal you, he will tend to your hurts, pains, guilt and shame. He will polish you until you shine. Then he will take your hand and make you his partner in redeeming a fallen world that he still loves, and bringing a message of hope to a humanity that he longs to save.
If that makes me a loser, then that is a title I will gladly embrace. Because I sure as hell wasn't winning much on my own.
P.S. There is more that I would like to say about the Jason Gray concert tonight. However, I am really, really pooped. Maybe tomorrow. In the mean time, here is another song of his. It's about falling in love with Jesus.
You should buy a couple of his Cds. I now have a signed copy of his newest one "Everything sad is coming untrue"...and you can't borrow it. :P