My heart is breaking today. Another soldier of Jesus Christ has fallen in his daily battle against sin, mortally wounded; and I, a fellow soldier, was petitioned to be the first medical aid response. I didn’t see it coming.
And yet I did. And that’s another reason my heart is breaking—that I’m getting accustomed to horrifying injuries. That soul tragedies become more commonplace, more quickly accepted, more believable, with each occurrence.
I fear for this soldier. Will he heal? If he does, how great will his scars be? He’s too important to lose!
Yet I felt that my heart didn’t respond to an emergency with crisis level of emotion. More like, “Oh! Oh no. [Hurt sigh.] Not you too…[mind-scrambling pause]…now what?” Like the Tsonga people who hear of a death every week or two, summoning a halfhearted, “Eish,” upon one more report of a funeral that weekend.
My eyes were wet after praying with this hurt soldier; but they weren’t overflowing, as they did last year about this time upon hearing of a different soldier’s injuries. I fear for the time they will cease to even moisten.
I fear for my heart, reacting against the hurt of yet another soldier going down, that it will harden, become bitter and cynical, as another missionary whom I won’t soon forget saying with resigned tone soon after I got here, “You can never trust them. Never.” Other comments something along the line of, You put your life into them, thinking you got a man who will faithfully serve Christ as a shepherd of the flock you raised, and he’ll let you down. Even after 10 years, he could be a rice Christian yet, and you will never really know for sure.
But that he went down on the battlefield this week is a reminder that I’m also in the line of fire. Just last week he was standing beside me, both of us fighting against the fiery darts of the enemy. Take heed! You’re standing, but you could fall too. You could fall next. Now that enemy is slinging darts my way, thoughts of discouragement, encouragement to cynicism—
“Not one. Is there no one who has character?”
“You’re wasting your time. You’ll be here your whole life, and the best potential candidates you can raise up even from their youth, will disqualify themselves just when you put your most hope in them. You’ll never leave. You’ll never get out. You’ll never start another church. What are you thinking? You haven’t even started this one!”
You haven’t even started this one.
Ah. All things work together for good to those who love and are fighting for their Commander. The Commander-Comforter takes the enemy’s lies and reminds me of truth in the midst of wanting to lash out and protect myself from more disappointment, frustration, and hurt—YOU didn’t start THIS ONE.
I did. And you didn’t start yourself either—the reason you’re standing and fighting, the reason you have character, the reason you weren’t born in the same position as every single person you live amongst is all because of MY grace.
And I hang my head and say with shame, “I am an unworthy servant; for I have only done what was my duty.”
I grappled with it alone today as Seth was away preaching at our teammate’s church, knowing I wouldn’t have his comfort until after our own service was concluded several hours later, and even then, I’d have to wait for time and the Spirit to do its healing work on his heart as well.
As I watched this young man walk down the road towards his house, leaving our house as he’s done over a hundred times in the last 5 years, watching his familiar walk, hurting for and loving him, I walked to the piano for solace as I have done so often in the past, and played this song.
I played it for him, and I played it for myself. I played it for all my fellow-soldiers, hurting, in shame before our bloodied and risen Christ, whom we daily betray with our idol-loving choices, often not even realizing that we’ve yet again drifted far from the battlefield, our eyes dazzled by useless baubles from Vanity Fair—
I regret the hours I have wasted
And the pleasures I have tasted
That you were never in.
And I confess that though your love is in me,
It doesn't always win me
When competing with my sin.
And I repent, making no excuses.
I repent no one else to blame.
And I return to fall in love with Jesus.
I bow down on my knees,
and I repent.
I lament the idols I've accepted,
The commandments I've rejected
To pursue my selfish end.
And I confess I need you to revive me,
Put selfishness behind me
And take up my cross again.