A few years back, I spent 4 months in the Philippines. It was a time full of joy, and full of sorrow. We lived in the slums along side those who have nothing. It was overwhelming and beautiful.
During that time a friend of mine wrote me this letter. I recently reread it and was reminded of its power.
I should start by saying how much I value your friendship, and how much more valuable it becomes when you are away (further away than usual that is). I don't think there is a day that goes by that I don't desire to share a thought or burden with you, and I am thankful that that desire even exists toward you. In a world full of so much vain conversation and pursuit, it is good to know that, even if I lost it all, Christ is enough, and I have someone to share HIM with in Joy. That is comforting. More comforting than 1,000 temporary pleasures is the thought of sharing Christ together.
I have been tired. I have been drained at times by this world. It feels as though so much of the Church body is consumed with this WORLD! I know that I speak as one who is guilty of vain pleasures (almost hourly), but it is – at he end of the day - the knowing, the wanting deep down for something more satisfying that seems to keep me foreign to the world. It seems as though it is difficult to share even a potential desire for Christ, let alone full enjoyment of HIM with others. If you have a chance, and the thought comes to you please pray for friendships here. Please pray that I would not let my own self get in the way of what the Lord would want to do in my life regarding relationship. I have a sinful tendency to let my flesh become an idol as I pursue relationship. It's like, I will only cross over into real intimacy if the payoff is right. I don't want that.
I have been praying for you. Prayer is scarce in my life, but when it comes, I share thoughts about you with our Father. His grace is sufficient for you. I am almost confounded at the thought of boasting in weakness. It has been something I have been praying for in my own life as well as those close to me; that we would be men and woman who find joy in a boast of inability. I am insufficient, therefore Christ must be all-sufficient, or else I am doomed. Thinking about the death of Lazarus and Christ's response, it amazes me: So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (Jn. 11:3-6)
Are you serious? Christ “loved” Lazarus yet he intentionally stays behind (2 days) and lets him die? This is outrageous. It is almost disgusting if what is known about Jesus is really true; that he is able to heal sick and raise the dead. Why then would he let his dear friend taste death? What kind of friend is he really? I can’t help but think about this story and consider my own life; consider your life away in a foreign place. Those dark times you have felt you have more than likely been given over to a dark and lonely mind so far away from Christ. Those nights you thought to yourself, “It’s hopeless, he will not come!” The times I feel like he has passed me (the one he loves) by. It might just be that like Lazarus, he is letting me taste death. Maybe – contrary to what most in my sphere of “churchgoers” would tell me – just maybe, death is better than the comfort I am familiar with? Or even, maybe a death like experience in my fleshly comforts would be all the more gloriously comforting when Christ appears!
The fighter verse of the week has been Titus 3:4-6: But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
I am convinced that we may have experienced (over this past year) much of the “but when” season in life; the “tasting of death” if you will – the death of our fleshly comforts. Maybe it is not that He is far off as we think, but that He is waiting with eyes fixed on the crucifixion of our remnant desires for this world. He is faithful to come. He is faithful to “appear” with resurrection power to save. The revelation of His glory, goodness and loving kindness seems to be worthy of Lazarus’ inescapable “death” if necessary.
I’m not sure if this is comforting. I just stopped in the middle of homework because you were on my heart and I know that communication is an easy thing to forego in the midst of busy schedules for me.
For the praise of His glory among the WORLD, keep the faith.
I love you,