Heart Wrecked

Have you ever pondered what kind of soul jerking, reality wrecking experiences twelve men must have had that would cause them to run, not walk into a life filled with persecution, pain and ultimately brutal death, simply because they refused to deny what they experienced and were compelled to share it with all.

Sure, they saw miracles, so did thousands of other people while Jesus was alive. But when they watched the life drain out of him as he hung between two grimy criminals in what would have seemed a shameful display of defeat, why didn’t they go back to life as usual and save their own skin?

What about those like the apostle Paul who didn’t know Jesus in life, but who after having a killing spree interrupted by a dramatic encounter with Jesus Spirit, immediately went from being king of the Christian killers to being a man permanently punch drunk in love with Jesus and desperate to declare His identity as God and savior to all of mankind until his gruesome death because of it?

What did these people feel? What did they see? What did they encounter that galvanized their resolve and flooded their soul with such unrelenting truth that  often death was welcomed over denying the one they called Lord?

I’ve had dreams that shook me to my core and then as the reality of the day wears on, the lasting impression of the dream that seemed so real fades to the corners of my mind without much afterthought. In the same way I’ve heard inspiring teachings, even moving sermons that I would describe as life changing, that once I’ve left the building, seem to leave me.  That’s human nature. When the emotions wear off and life is present in all its urgency, we focus on that and big ideas can often stay… ideas.

There was a reality that demanded more from the fathers of our faith, those misfits who became the mouthpiece of God to their world. It must have been a haunting reality. His words would have rung in their ears. The image of his face, etched permanently before their eyes. They. Saw. Him. They saw Him. They saw him in life. They saw him in death and they saw him live again. They encountered him. They knew him. Like a wife knows her husband, they knew him. They felt their souls shake. They buckled under the supreme pressure of what they expressed was irresistible love, wreckless forgiveness and utterly undeserved grace by a God they tangibly encountered. Their hearts were branded by the hot iron of his fiery touch. They could not ignore him. They could not forget him. They could never be the same.

What these people saw with their eyes and felt with their hands, millions more for two thousand years have been disrupted in their souls by with such gripping reality, that they can’t refuse it. What love is this? What grace is this? What truth is this? What God is this that apprehends the mind, the will, the heart and the purpose of those who encounter him, so completely that all other pleasures in life become filthy rags compared to the joy of knowing him?

His life was holy, his love scandalous and unrelenting. His sacrifice was real. He lives today and he is searching for the next heart to wreck, the next past to heal and the next purpose to give.

This is Jesus.

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The Beginning and End… Your story

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Author and finisher, Alpha and Omega. He who began… will be faithful to complete. He started your story, but that’s not all. He wrote a glorious ending and He is eternally determined to bring it to pass. He decided you would be their mother, their wife, their child, their sister, their friend. Not the universe, which He made, not the choices which you made and not the circumstances that happened that you thought were beyond His reach.

Sure, you or others who affected you may have been living life floundering with little sense of direction- but don’t mistake the circumstances that life began in, with the One who began life. You were the person He chose to pray, to love, to dream and to partner with Him to bring plans to pass. The middle part is hard because of free will. You get to make choices, you get to write a lot of the story and you can make the path to His end crooked. He will make it straight in time. You may be picturing your mistakes; the marriage that ended, the promises you failed to keep, the things you  or others did to you that made life harder. He said “no weapon formed against you will prosper”. He has declared the end of the story and the story ends in victory. He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it… it was His beginning and He owns the ending.

Don’t think for a moment that He didn’t anticipate the season you are in or the choices you and others who affect you would make, for better or worse. He made provision for that. “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross…” The joy was seeing you cross the finish line HE drew. Yes he has made a way for you to run the race of faith with endurance, not always with ease, but always with access to power. However, don’t be afraid that if you or the people you love and pray for wander off, that HE won’t leave the 99 and go after the 1 to finish His story. It’s HIS. The end belongs to Him. With His last breath on earth, He declared, “IT IS FINISHED.”  He rose again and is seated now as the One victorious over death, hell and the grave. His book ends with Victory. The middle included pain, some brought by others but the greatest chosen by Him as He endured the cross. The end was written from day 1 and when He said it is finished, He said “My end is triumph”.

When you look to Him, you look at the Alpha, the Author, the Beginning of your story. Be reminded that while you or others who affect you may muddle through the middle; He who not only wrote the word, but is The Word, said this word, “It is finished” and the ending is victory. If you are discouraged, remember this: He is the bookends of your story. He chose when to start the story that is you and the end of your story is themed like His. He is on a throne, He wears a crown. Your last page says:

She won.

If you win- do you not think that the things and people that your Author and Finisher put in your heart to believe for, to stand for, to pray for and trust for… do you not believe that He has chosen those endings also? He has. You win and so does your faith. Do not stop believing.