I'm a preacher. A mix of old fashioned and new fashioned. The truth is I'm being fashioned in every new season of my life into the preacher God needs me to be to speak His truth to the world He loves so very much.
The fashion of speaking this past weekend was one that I was both nervous and excited about. Nervous because I was going to rip open my chest cavity and let people see the inside-me, the guts me, the bloody mess me. But I was also excited because it was being shard out of I Kings 19 and the confessions of one of my mentors, Elijah.
His confessions after his best day ever seemed pretty universal a few thousand years later and the permission they granted me to make my own pathetic confessions lead me to owe Elijah a debt of gratitude for "going first".
His confession under the broom bush...
1. I've had enough.
2. Take my life.
3. I'm no better than my ancestors.
4. I've been very zealous.
5. I am the only one.
I know as well as you that these confessions are just feelings. But just because we know they weren't actually truth, it didn't make them any less true to Elijah. That's the thing about confession, the feelings are true even if they aren't based on truth. And you know what? God loves to sit with us in those admissions and minister mercifully to us.
His response to Elijah's pity party under the broom bush? "The journey has been too much for you."
About the last things you're waiting to hear come out of God's mouth after a day where he showered down blessings and bounty on Elijah the likes of which no one compares in the Scriptures. If I were God I would have said: "What did you just say? Don't you remember what I just did in you and through you yesterday? Do you know how many people would die to have your life and all you can do is sit here and mope about wanting to die cause you've had enough? Sheesh. Maybe I will take you out, on second thought." But I'm not God, thank God. He is so full of compassion and patience.
After sharing a bit of Elijah's journey...I began to share my own story and the recent failures and faults in my own life. Things that are embarrassing and ugly and downright difficult to admit out loud to anyone, really.
I shared that I was shedding some coping mechanisms that showed how I was coping with anger, disappointment, and shame. I was overwhelmed and distracting myself from looking at my soul and getting eyeball to eyeball with God. I knew I wasn't going to like what I saw, so I didn't want to look in the mirror. So my life was filled with lesser lovers...
1. Alcohol - It had to go...completely. And it was hard to let go.
2. Sleep - I'm talking about lazy sleep. I was wanting to sleep life away to pass the heaviness of time.
3. Sports on Tv - I would come home on Sunday and watch football from 1:30pm to 12:30am...I didn't even care about the teams...I just stared in amusement at the spectacle of sports.
4. Netflicks - Don't even get me started on how much time to can waste here.
5. Politics - I was drawn into the drama almost every day checking in on the latest news and how everyone was acting and reacting. Nuts.
6. Facebook - I had to deactivate my account. My co-dependency was so bizarre that removing Facebook sent me into withdrawals like I was drying out from a cocaine addiction. I still haven't recovered from the loss of connection I still feel to the world...or the perception of connection...I don't know what's even real.
As I shared with our church that God loved all of me, not just the stellar me, but the sad and pitiful me, I felt a freedom in the confession. Oh, I also felt ashamed and exposed, but more free than anything. As I was explaining how important confession and healing were to Elijah's power and effectiveness...I was trying to draw the conclusion that maybe, must maybe, that's the healthy life. I told them that it was amazing to just admit my limitations and addictions instead of hide them...and to share how liberating it is to throw all that cargo overboard and trust that God is enough even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.
All the sudden, out of the back of the church in the last row, a guy yelled: "So I'm not crazy!"
At first I didn't hear him, so I asked, "What was that?"
He yelled it again: "So I'm not crazy!" The people murmured.
I spoke directly to him, "No, brother, you're not crazy. The fact is that the better part of this crowd here today is working through this stuff on a regular basis." A sigh of relief came over the place as if to let out all that they'd been holding in for years.
I'll never forget that day. It's a preacher's dream, honestly.