“Leave…Me…Alone…”

I think there is a great deal of secrecy and shame for those who hurt themselves on the outside through cutting because of the pain that they feel on the inside. Years ago, people like this would possibly have been considered demon-possessed. (They would have been compared to the Gerasene demoniac who gashed himself with stones in Mark 5 and Luke 8.) There still might be groups that look at self-inflicted pain this way, but I think that only leads to more secrecy and shame.

Cutting and similar behaviors are really, I believe, a way of coping with an incredibly tremendous hurt on the inside. This young girl desperately wants the pain she is feeling inside to go away. She just want something that really works, and this cutting of herself works, even though it is also destroying her relationships and her life.

By myself, my faith-filled heart wants to say, “Jesus is the answer to all of your painful problems. He can make the pain that you feel inside go away.” But I can’t say that so easily when I am face-to-face with someone else’s pain. Sometimes a person can get mangled inside just as much as if they have been mangled on the outside in an automobile accident. Sometimes they might even prefer to have been in an automobile accident instead. Sometimes there are no easy answers and quick solutions. I know that Jesus can move and in an instant, people are changed forever. But what do you say when that doesn’t happen?

I think this is where the Body Of Christ comes in. So often we think of Jesus as being “up there” and maybe, if we say and do the right things, He will become engaged in our lives…maybe. But the reality is if we are baptized into Jesus, then we are living members of His Body, and He isn’t “up there.” He is right here, right now, in you and in me. Sometimes it’s up to you and me ministering through His power as His Body.

It’s not often easy getting involved in another person’s life, particularly when there are no quick two or three step solutions. Sometimes we can only say, “I’ll walk with you and stay with you until…” And we can do that as the Body Of Christ.

Here is the only part that I’m putting in bold. If you can relate to this and are struggling with this or know someone who is…seek counseling. There are resources available that can help you. I’m just drawing and writing from my limited perspective. But there are professionals that can help you. Seriously. Jesus is right there with you. He was beaten, bloodied, stripped, and crucified for all the world to see. He knows pain inside and outside. He will stay with you until all of the pain is gone, no matter how long it takes. Honestly.

“Everything I Ever Wanted”

In some ways this sketch might be the opposite to the last one in this series titled “Someone Like Me” because the man there had nothing that this man has. Then I began to consider how very fleeting the answer “I’m not seeking anything” can be.

That may be easy to say when you have a newborn with ten fingers and ten toes and all seems wonderful, but what about when there is a cough that won’t go away? Or the baby doesn’t respond to light or sound? Or doesn’t develop as expected?

Then there is a desperate seeking for answers and cures. Illness, disease, and disaster can come so quickly and threaten to take away what we treasure the most. Then we will be seeking again, perhaps more desperately than ever before.

At times, life can feel so fragile and precarious, particularly when seeking Jesus is not part of it. Without Him, there is no steady anchor. All of our earthly desires and fulfillments can be swept away, leaving us battered by the waves. Can we be our own anchor? (I don’t think so. Can an anchor be its own anchor? Still, I know how very difficult it can be to trust anyone else, even Jesus.)

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast… Hebrews 6:19 (KJV)

What is perhaps jarring for me to consider is that perhaps both the man in “Someone Like Me” and the man in “Everything I Ever Wanted” may be spiritual equals in the eyes of God. One shrouded in darkness, the other bathed in light. One having nothing of what he wants, the other having all that he wants. Yet this is only what our physical eyes see. We lack God’s spiritual eyes into the heart.

Prosperity of things, even good and wholesome things like a family, may not be a sign that someone is diligently seeking a relationship with God. In fact, that may be a greater spiritual danger than not having prosperity at all. Perhaps that is all the more reason to hold fast.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Hebrews 10:23 (KJV)

Without a doubt, seeking Jesus is a good thing, but once having found Him, are we letting Him be our anchor? Are we holding fast?

“Someone Like Me”

You may notice this face as that of a new character introduced in yesterday’s post for “The Lloyd Servant Show.” His face was drawn beat up and his posture beat down. He’s the kind of person who makes me wonder “What are you seeking?” 

Why this man would open up in this way is uncertain, though I’d like to believe that even the roughest exterior and most hardened heart holds on to a small amount of hope that one day somehow they will be able to find what they are seeking.

I believe, or I want to believe, that Jesus can work in the life of a man like this to make him the kind of man that someone would want to have coming home to them at the end of the day, and it would be the kind of someone he imagines.

While I don’t want to believe that anyone is hopelessly lost when it comes to knowing Jesus in a real way, I think it may be possible that some of a person’s hopes may become hopelessly lost because of decisions that they have made. It’s sort of like Jesus can remove all of our sins, but not necessarily all of the consequences of our sins…things like his beaten up nose and cuts from barroom brawls and who knows what else.

Still, I can envision this man with a kinder heart and a gentler disposition created through a living and vital relationship with Jesus.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:27 (KJV)

So perhaps the hopes and dreams of his youth can be replaced by new hopes and dreams for the new creation that he can become in Christ?

Maybe sometimes we need to let go of old worn-out hopes and dreams so that they can pass away in order to see Jesus more clearly and then He can give us new hopes and dreams?

“It’s Not About Being One Of The Best”

This post is a followup to yesterday’s post and tries to fill in a few gaps that may explain why some people become who they are.

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.”

I don’t know when we stop becoming little ones. There are times that I want to go back to being a little one, particularly on days when I feel I have absolutely no strength in myself.

I have a feeling that there are some things that we have to resolve when we are a little one, and if we don’t resolve them then, they will confound us until we do. One of those things is the love of Jesus.

Perhaps one of the strongest senses a child has is whether or not they are loved. It may be stronger than their sense of whether or not they are warm and nourished. Children gravitate to love. They want to figure out how to receive more of it. Sometimes it’s very difficult to figure out, particularly when using just outward appearances. Sometimes outward appearances appear to be what love is all about. Who always seems to have new stylish clothes? The popular new toy? Who always seems to get picked for special privileges at school and at church? Who is “The Best Boy” in my class? Who is “The Best Girl”?

God made you just the way you are.

God loves you just the way you are.

God picked out your family just for you.

But what if you don’t look like all of the other children? You have brown skin, but they don’t. You have a twisted limb, but they don’t. You wear the same thing to church every Sunday, but they always have something new. Your mom gives you cereal for dinner, but they have a hot meal. Your dad is in jail, but theirs is playing ball with them in the backyard. Maybe that’s part of what “They are weak, but He is strong” is really all about.

It’s not always easy when you’re not one of “The Favorites,” but then there is a different kind of difficulty for those who are one of “The Favorites.” Maybe that’s a different kind of weak too.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that sometimes we may have to help people figure out God’s love is not like the things we see that may accompany human love. It’s too easy to be lured away by those things as nice and as wholesome as they are. Then maybe they will realize they have been receiving God’s love all along.

“I Believed Him. I Believed Him So Much.”

I’ve been unsure what to write about today’s graphic…other than to tell you I think what this young woman is saying may connect with some people. There are sketchy details, and I’m okay with that. She actually says a good amount even when hurried and afraid.

Anyone can feel let down and beat up. Anyone can feel like there’s something wrong with themselves that has caused their life to turn out as it has. Of all that she has to say, I think the words in the post title are perhaps the most revealing because “Him” could apply to both Jesus and the man at home. Hers is a life of broken dreams.

This series doesn’t really have a name yet. It’s sort of like “Voices From The Last Pew,” but the setting is never a church. It’s more about going out into the world and finding people right where they are because they probably will never go to a church again ever unless the church goes to them first.

I had thought about doing a different portrait like this to go with each of the “Seven ‘I Am’ Statements Of Jesus” found in John’s Gospel, but that may be for a different time. I just wanted to present “I Am The Good Shepherd” right now because it has the most meaning for me.

It is perhaps the one “I Am” most needed by the majority of people who grew up in the church but later outgrew the church. (That is, as adults they feel Christianity to be outdated, irrelevant, or based on silly superstitions, but they had a genuine connection to Jesus in their childhood.)

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (NASB)

“and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28 (NASB)

I don’t believe Jesus ever stops being Our Good Shepherd…not even when we say we have abandon Him or think He has abandoned us.