Read Job 16:18-22
"Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend."
• Do you believe that accepting our brokenness is the first step toward healing?
• When we accept that all are broken, we can put away all the junk that gets in the way--our efforts to "get things right" and to "do Christian things". . .our pride, our stubborn wills, our attempts to control everything and everyone. Do you believe this? Why or why not?
• Jesus wants us to stop worrying about life and to begin letting Him take care of the things that trouble us. Why is this important? (Please explain.)
Job felt as if he was wearing a big red bull's-eye on his back and was being hunted down like wild prey: "God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior" (Job 16:11-14).
While Job's language seems graphic--even disturbing--who can blame him? He was a broken man. The injustices inflicted on him made absolutely no sense. Yet like Abel in Genesis 4:10, he knew that his blood was innocent and that it would "cry out from the ground" after his death. Job believed that someday God would bear witness to his righteousness (verses 18-19).
Guess what? Countless others can relate to Job's dilemma. Men, women, and children from all walks of life and from every corner of the world have felt (or eventually will feel) worn down by life's trials.
Maybe that describes your story right now.
Try to walk in my shoes, you may tell yourself. Try feeling my pain. . .enduring the "strikes on my cheek"--the ridicule, the scorn. Try stepping into my loneliness.
I (Michael) am convinced that all are broken to some degree, yet only a few are willing to admit it. We wear masks and act as if we're okay--that we have it all together; doing so makes us feel better about ourselves and more attractive to others. But inside we're broken. And that's okay. At least that's what a friend is teaching me. Allow me to share his story.
I know this guy in Seattle who sings everywhere--coffeehouses, schools, music festivals, churches--anywhere he can draw a crowd. His voice has that gritty edge, and his songs churn up all kinds of emotions in those who listen. They make you think. Even cry.
His beat-up, twelve-string guitar looks like a yard-sale reject: It's covered with surfing stickers, duct tape, and "graffiti" from friends (notes, doodles, and autographs). Amazingly, though, he manages to pull incredible beauty out of something so ugly.
This guy is talented, yet--like his guitar--his life is pretty messy.
It started out that way.
His mom and dad abandoned him when he was a small boy, pawning him off on his grandparents. Just out of diapers and barely able to talk, his young heart was already torn and bruised. He actually started believing that he was so unlovable, so flawed, that his parents couldn't stand to be around him. And when they ended up getting a divorce, he blamed himself for that, too. Slowly a toxic mix of shame, self-loathing, and rage began to bubble inside.
Things got messier through the years, mostly because of alcohol and drug abuse during his teen years. He plunged deep into the Rastafari movement as a young man, searching for meaning to his life, but he ended up becoming more confused (not to mention really, really high all the time). He hit rock bottom at age twenty-four and spent time behind bars for using and dealing drugs.
And then he met Jesus.
After that, everything began to fall in place. . .right? He did a "Christian 180," and now he had the promise of living happily ever after.
Despite ten years of "trying to get things right," his life is still pretty messy.
He reads his Bible, he prays, he devours every spiritual growth book he can get his hands on, he serves in church, he hangs out with Christ-following friends--he does all kinds of "Christian things" that Christians are supposed to do, and yet he still slips on life's messes and falls flat on his face.
In fact, he's even dealing with some new twists to a bunch of old problems: abandonment (this time by his wife), divorce (this time his own), and imprisonment (this time his emotions). As for that toxic shame thing, it's still pooling and swirling inside. On some occasions, usually during weak moments, it gets the best of him. Old habits and negative ways of thinking seem to take over. . .and before he realizes it, he has lost the day spiritually.
Here's what's changed during his decade of walking with Jesus: he doesn't try to hide his mess. He's actually pretty open about it, and he even writes songs about the things that trip him up. This brings out a sigh of relief in some believers who have heard his story: I'm not alone! they tell themselves. I can stop pretending that I have it all together, and I can start living with authenticity just like this guy. I don't have to be afraid anymore. I can take a step toward God. . .warts and all.
Others, though, write off his life as yet another "depressing Seattle story," and even label him hypocritical, phony, backslidden.
I'm with the first group.
Even though my hang-ups are different from his, the fact is, I still get hung up from time to time. I'm a Christ follower, yet I, too, don't have it all together. I'm a Christ follower, yet. . .
I have a messy faith and a messy life.
I fall flat on my face--more often than I care to admit.
I desperately need a Savior.
The truth is, we're all like this guy--and we all feel like Job from time to time.
Lord, help me to come clean with You and to stop trying to hide my pain. Amen.