Friday, September 07, 2007

The Hope of Love

In a previous post I mentioned working with Boromir. There was another guy whom I also worked with at that time whose name I will call Ted. Ted spoke some English, was educated, had been a believer for over nine years and had a wife and three children. He came and participated in our Disaster Management Course and I knew that I had found a great asset to the team. What I liked about Ted, what made him so compelling was that he would cry quite easily when talking about deep emotional things. He had a lot of those kinds of things to talk about as it turned out. The more I got to know him the more I realized that he was really messed up. He had been treated very badly by some of the Churches that he had gone to. He had been thrown out of his original Church because when he got married- to a Christian girl- his parents gave him a Muslim wedding. The pastor felt he had not objected loudly enough to this so they excommunicated him. The next church he went to tried to help him but soon grew tired of his many needs and they too threw him out. He wandered from Church to Church after that trying to find a place to belong but could not. I, being who I am, was sure that I could help him.

I started to study with him and Boromir on a regular basis. As we studied together, prayed together, and worked together many things came to light. Boromir was an alcoholic. Ted had other problems. Ted was trapped in the worst marriage you have ever heard of. He was trapped in the lies of his own making and it was tearing him apart. Sin is like that you know. The enemy is not content to let us just wander cold and miserable down the wrong path, he wants us to suffer much more than that. If we let him the enemy will tell us lies to bind us up until we are nothing more than animals with no control over any aspect of our lives. This was Ted's predicament. His wife came from an abusive family and Ted married her partly to get her out of it. But she is now a very damaged individual. Their life together is really something to see. She yells at him, baits him, and antagonizes him until he finally hits her- which is the only way that she feels she has been heard. He then feels terrible about it and goes out and seeks solace with a prostitute. She hates him all the more for that and the cycle repeats. It has been repeating like this for nine years. She leaves him- often and then comes back to him because there is no where else to go. He repents and swears his love for her often but it never last long and he is back in the worst kinds of sin and self-hatred. Enter Strider with his big Bible and truck full of wisdom based on Open Windows. (Cue Mighty Mouse theme song, "Here I come to save the daaaaaaayyyy!") Yes, yes, I already know. I am an idiot.

I plead with God to take these guys away. I didn't want to work with an alcoholic or a wife-beater no matter what their situations were. All through that fall and through that winter I would get up in the morning and tell God He had the wrong man- there was no man- for these guys. Let's just cut our losses and move on to more productive people. I already told you what happened with Boromir, how he cleaned up at first and became really productive. I began to think that Ted would never get it. He would never understand what I was talking about. We went through John Eldridge's Wild at Heart book and talked about what a real man was suppose to be. We discussed what Ted should be doing to truly love his wife. He used what we taught to justify his outrageous behavior. Then in the Spring his wife left him- again. This time it seemed for good as she took the kids up to her parents house in the North. Ted came in and suddenly there was a lightbulb over his head. He said to me, 'I get it! I understand what you have been saying all this time. I know it will be harder than ever to fight for my wife and restore our relationship but that is exactly what I have to do.' He left the next day for her city.

Now, I have to be honest. I thought two things simultaneously: One, great, he finally gets it. God bless the boy. And two, he's gone. I don't have to deal with him anymore.
A few months later I heard he had found work. He was seeing his wife regularly. He was trying to be active in a church there that was related to his first Church. He repented of all his sins in front of the whole congregation. Then a few months after that his wife left her parents house and started to live with him again. There were some struggles at first but then everything seemed to turn out great. I was happy for him. Then she left him and the kids and ran off to Arnor in the far north. He came back down to Minas Tirith with the kids in tow. He was shattered and his parents decided they would finally intervene. They set him up to marry another girl. He got an official divorce. I and other friends told him not to marry this non-christian girl that he hardly knew. It would be a disaster. The second marriage lasted four days. Then his first wife came back. He left the second wife- her reputation and life destroyed- and rejoined his divorced wife. I saw him shortly after that. I felt that I couldn't just condone all this. I had to be firm. I had to lay it on the line. I spoke harshly to him and condemned him for destroying that young girl's life. He took my words pretty hard. He left and I didn't see him for a long time. He is back up north again. Living with his wife and children and working in a new Church start. He hasn't been back to prostitutes for 2 years nor has he beaten his wife.

So, here is my point. God is a lot more patient than I am. His mercy and grace are amazing beyond our ability to comprehend. I must grow even more in this area. I need to be able to love more truly. Love hopes all things. What does that mean to you? To me it means that despite the reality of sin and stupidity love knows that better things are coming. Love knows that the walls of sin and selfishness can and will be destroyed. Love knows that the captive can be freed. We separate from our brothers and sisters so easily and it is a testimony to our lack of faith. Our Lord is at work in people's lives. He will overcome every work of the evil one. We need to confront evil in others not out of anger at them, to separate from them, or to show our offense at them. We need to confront the evil in others by inviting them into closer, deeper, truer relationship. I blew it when I cast Ted out. I should have confronted his sin and invited him in and proclaimed my love for him at the same time. My Father does this. I must do it too. But we are afraid to do this. Afraid that if someone else sees us they will think we are soft on sin, that we condone what others do. That is what Jesus was accused of. If I am not accused of this is it because my actions are so good that they are not misunderstood? Foolishness. If I am not accused of loving sinners and being misunderstood as Jesus was then it is because I am not like Jesus and I am not loving others as He does. God make me misunderstood like Jesus.

5 comments:

Alycelee said...

One of my favorite scriptures is:
"the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning."
I love that, for if his love and mercy were an inch less, I would have used it all up myself.
I have worked with women who come out of prison for some time. Church people say they want to help, may give you money and clothes, buy presents for her children, but unless she changes completely and looks just like them, they often forsake her because she is too damaged, too messed up and too much trouble.
God help us love, agape, like you do.
Isn't that why God gives us the story of the prodical?
Yes it is hard. Very hard and sometime you NEVER see the results. Many times dissappointment is all you see and feel. But our feelings don't negate our commission to set the captives free!
I praise God that He is a God of longsuffering and kindness and pray He gives me the same.
Thanks for sharing that story.
Alyce

Anonymous said...

Strider if it is alright with you I would like to share this blog with my Pastor?? Just wanted to check with you first.
Regarding this story a huge "AMAN" yeah that's right I purposely typed it wrong!!!
When I think about God's Love for me SERIOUSLY NOW GOD'S LOVE I sometimes want to bubble over and need to strive to have more Love and Compassion and Forgiveness with others. Take Care, Angie.

Strider said...

Alyce and Angie- Thanks for 'getting it'- too many don't. Yes Angie, please share this with anyone you think would want to read it.
Thank you both for the kind words and encouragement.

FacingTheSharks said...

You said: "We need to confront the evil in others by inviting them into closer, deeper, truer relationship."

Sometimes it isn't the evil in the other. Sometimes its the Christian who wants perfect people in their churches. Anything other than perfect makes their church "look bad" because there's a weak spot in their church.

I don't attend church any more, and probably never will. Christians give people a certain amount of time to get through their trials, and if that trial takes longer... see ya! They don't embrace people. They make you feel like an outcast if you don't fit in their "perfect church" idea.

Though, I also don't agree Christians are supposed to drag themselves down trying to help people that don't want God's Word in their life. I just wish Christians would love people and stop making them feel like outcasts if they don't fit in their church socialite's groups.

Strider said...

Facingthesharks, Christians by virtue of the name they have given themselves ought to be Christ-like. It sounds like you have seen too much of the institutional Church. It is a man-made thing and fails to represent Christ all too often. There are real Christians, real followers of Jesus, who actually read the Bible and do what it says. Hard to believe sometimes, I know. I encourage you to find such people and find the strength in such a community that will see you through the battles you are fighting.