Uncategorized

All posts in the Uncategorized category

Depression Amongst Friends

Published December 16, 2018 by Dawn

“He just needs to die.”

I swallowed hard and said, “What?” I really wasn’t sure I heard her correctly.

“He just needs to die. He’s heartbroken and he just needs to die.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been more appalled at a conversation in my life. I felt this incessant pleading of my heart to turn around and walk away from this conversation, but propriety demanded I stay, so I did. Leaning against a rail for support, I clung to it with my teeth tightly clamped and listened as this friend, this Christian woman, told me about her elderly father’s battle with depression. I might have understood if she had disclosed an unmanageable and constant pain in his body. I could understand that kind of suffering driving friends and family to this conclusion. How do you watch a loved one suffer physical torment without, at some point, determining that death would be a reprieve?

She wasn’t talking about physical pain. She said, “He is in great physical shape. He’s doing well in so many ways, actually. He’s just so broken-hearted.” Then she said it again. The one thing I couldn’t bear hearing her repeat. “He just needs to die.”

How did we get here, friends? How did we get here, church? Where we can look at the suffering of others and with callousness decide that death is just the inevitable conclusion to it all? Have we forgotten God? Have we forgotten the testimony of the scriptures, of men and women who also wrestled with depression in deep, dark places and been rescued?

I think of Paul, an elderly man in chains, writing to the church in Corinthians, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor. 2:8). Even in the company of his companions, Paul experienced such severe depression of spirit that he felt, and rationalized, death as the answer. “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2:9). Paul and his companions had a tremendous prayer life, evident in all the letters he wrote, and they recognized that God was the one they should turn to in this time.

I don’t understand why we Christians filter our lives through the world’s sieve, looking for answers. We rationalize as the world does, and we forget just how powerful our God is in our suffering, and the suffering of our loved ones. We forget that scriptures says that we are destined for such suffering, but also encourages us to press through them and promises that we will be victorious. Paul continues telling his story, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2:10-11).

I have felt the sting of abandonment in sorrowful times. I know it’s because it’s hard for others to bear the burden of my pain. I have had friends turn their backs on me because the depression outlasted their ability to help me keep my arms up. Like Moses in Exodus 17:8-15, who had been called to an intense battle. The Lord allowed Israel to prevail and conquer the enemy as long as Moses sat on the hill with the rod raised above his head. But when his arms began to give out and he lowered the rod, the enemy quickly gained the upper hand. What did his friends do? They stood beside him and held up his arms. No doubt, their arms also hurt as the day wore on, but they did not abandon him in his pain. They stood next to him.

I’m afraid we’re there, church, at the place Jesus described in Matthew 24:12, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” The increase of wickedness is not just the hatred of God in the world, or the rampant murder and strife. It’s also the love of self to the degree that we abandon each other in our own selfish pursuits. Life would be easier if we were only looking out for number one, but it certainly isn’t the will of God. Paul’s daily death led him to abandon all comfort to be the hands and feet of Christ in this life. Jesus’s example led him up Calvary for people who hated him. Can we not tarry with our depressed loved ones?!

If you reread Paul’s exhortation in 2 Corinthians (just scroll back up and reread it), he said that their hope was set upon God, as his friends prayed for them in their struggles. He intimates that their deliverance hinged on – was granted in response to – the prayers of his friends. This isn’t the only place Paul talks about being downcast. Over and over in scripture, he testifies to being renewed and reinvigorated at the coming of his friends, such as Titus and Timothy.

I write this as a gently rebuke because I think this is something many professing Christians are guilty of. There are many hurting people who are just trying to keep their head above water. Who spend so much of their day just trying not to be overcome by life’s billows. Who feel abandoned by those they trusted to have their back. It’s hard to reach out to people when you’re hurting. But instead of bearing the responsibility of reaching out when our friend’s ghost on us, we take it personal and get offended. That’s Satan, folks, putting lies in your head to divide and conquer Christians, one by one. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Perhaps you are the one who often battles depression alone. Remember, when we are weak, God is strong. “The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven” (Deut. 28:7). Paul shares in 2 Timothy 4:17 that when he was abandoned by everyone, the Lord stood with him and gave him strength. Similarly, King David once felt everyone around him rising up against him and instead of giving in to despair, the Bible says he encouraged himself in the Lord. Don’t be defeated in your depression. Jesus is our Saviour, our Counselor, and our great Friend. We are never alone. He is our hope.

 

Advertisements

Man Plans While God Laughs

Published November 25, 2018 by Dawn

The Christmas tree went up last night. It’s beautiful chaos, and putting it up was beautiful chaos too. I don’t usually describe chaos like that. I don’t really like chaos … It gives me anxiety.

I know we all consider ourselves to be creatures of habit. I don’t know if anyone is as married to their habits as I am. After all, humanity glorifies marriage and I’m still single, so I think it’s probable that my habits are a surrogate. Let me explain:

My life is full of routine. There’s a system to my morning: wake up, potty break, shower (there’s a system for the shower too), lotion, dress, wake up the kids, hair, brush teeth, make-up, hot tea, walk out the door. Dishes have a system: Plates first, then silverware and cups, glass bowls, plastic bowls, pots and pan, and then anything else that sits on the counter (which is usually nothing). My life is a well-oiled machine until you throw people into the system and then I have to micromanage their existence so that it doesn’t mess up my systems … living with me sounds amazing, right? My kids think so too …

We always put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but this year, we had to wait until the weekend because my daughter is now a working woman. She missed Thanksgiving (I’m now an advocate for Black Friday starting on Friday), and had to work during the nuttiness of Black Friday, so we had to put our traditions off until the weekend. I made a full Thanksgiving dinner, invited the fam and recreated Thanksgiving for her yesterday. Not to put off the tree any longer, we meshed Thanksgiving with the beginning of the Christmas season in our house and dubbed Saturday “Thanksmas.” After gorging ourselves and cleaning up, we prepared to put up the tree.

I had a plan for last night, wouldn’t you know … we always go to the store and each pick out a new ornament for the tree. Then we come home, turn on a Pandora Christmas station, get out the stuff, do the tree, drink hot chocolate, and watch a funny Christmas movie (yes, it’s almost always one of three: Home Alone, A Christmas Story, or Christmas in Wonderland). Last night, we did things a little different… By “we,” I mean mostly me. That was not part of the plan.

My kids are teenagers, so music, facetime and hanging out trumps tradition. While I brought the many boxes of Christmas up from the basement, they hung out in my son’s room and ate chips and dip. While I painstakingly added volume to each individual branch and put it in its place, they played Country and Rap to drown out Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. While I untangled the lights, fussed with the fuses and went to the store for replacements, they played basketball under the streetlights. Every once in a while a kid would pop in to see how things were going or lend a hand, but I had to talk myself out of a few pity parties as I lamented the ways things have changed this year. So many changes and none of them were a part of the plan.

When they did finally join me, it was only to hijack my phone charger and fill the living room with 90’s pop music. I must admit, I raised some eyebrows as I busted out my 90’s dance moves and sang all the lyrics at the top of my lungs. My son was unimpressed but my daughter decided to learn Vanilla Ice verbatim. They did help me put the decorations on after the lights were strung, but things are a little different than usual. Our angelic tree topper has a large green alien sitting on her shoulder … so different than I envisioned. But so like my son, who was pleased I left it.

I shared all of this because “Man plans while God laughs.” There is so much truth to this. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Similarly, chapter 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the purposes of the Lord prevail.” For a planner like myself, this is a little cringy. Situations that require me to just sit back and watch God do His thing are so hard. I know God is awesome and has great plans for us. I’ve read Jeremiah 29:11, and a slew of other verses that inspire me to trust God. And when I’m lost in adoration and worship, I can trust God with such fidelity. But in the drudgery, as Oswald Chambers liked to call it, the everydayness when life happens and there’s not an acute sense of God’s nearness, I go back to my meticulous planning and create order in the chaos as much as I can.

Last night taught me that strictly following my own plans robs me of the bliss in life. There’s not a ton of it, after all. If I had demanded they come into the living room and help, I would have had very sullen teenagers resisting every proposal or directive I made. If I had insisted on Christmas music, I would have missed belting Britney Spears, Spice Girls and the Soundtrack to Grease with my sixteen-year-old. Moments with my kids are slipping away faster and faster. Do I really want to miss out just because the alien clearly does not belong atop the angel atop the tree? I might have!

In light of this sobering reality, I reflected on life in the larger sense and I must admit that there may have been times I missed out on things that would have deepened my connections with others or added to my joy because I was so stuck on the preplanned things in my mind. I don’t think that’s how God operates. He’s the creator of  spontaneity, after all. His plans seem to thrive in an atmosphere of bewilderment and joy. He hardly ever follows logic, and there is no rhyme or reason to the way God works. Clearly, we cannot stick to our plans so religiously and expect to walk in the perfect will of God. All of our preconceived notions make God laugh because we’re dreadfully simple and He’s extravagant and wild. I want that. I want whatever God is doing. That crazy, zany, impractical thing I can’t imagine because I like symmetry and He loves coloring outside the lines. Father, teach me to love what you are doing and the spontaneity of it. Teach me to sit back and enjoy what you are doing instead of trying to make everything make sense and have a semblance of order. Help me to hear your will and follow your directions into whatever it is you have planned for my life. I don’t want to control and contain what is clearly bigger than me and better than I can create in my own imagination. Have your way. Let’s have fun in this together.

“ … as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—” (1 Cor. 2:9).

 

Give Thanks!

Published November 22, 2018 by Dawn

It’s 8:00 Thanksgiving morning and I’m still in my PJs, snuggling with my dog-who-thinks-she’s-still-a-puppy. That’s something I am really thankful for.

I’m also grateful for this warm house and plenty of blankets to ward off the cold outside.

I’ve come to the realization lately that not being thankful for – or even cognizant of – my blessings is a major factor in the joyless, depressive state I’ve been living in for a while. Focusing all my attention on the negative is exactly what Satan wanted me because it made me completely useless for the kingdom of God for an entire year or more. I can act with the best of them and I’ve got a smile that can hide the tears in my eyes. But I’ve been withdrawn and sad for a long time. If you don’t believe me, ask my best friend. Well, first, ask her if we’re even friends anymore … with less than a mile between us, we’ve talked once in the past year.

Enough about that, though. Let’s talk about being thankful. Talking about thankfulness on Thanksgiving has got to be the biggest cliche in the world, so I wrestled with even writing this. Who’s going to read it with all the Turkey Pranks and RealTime videos circulating today? But then, does it even matter if no one else reads this? I’m just grateful for the opportunity to write it, while nestled in between two pups who are holding down the comforter that’s hugging me. It’s bliss!

Of course, I’m thankful for all the material things I have. The house, the car that gets me to work, toilet paper (yes, this list is first to last and TP is up there), my Bible, food and clothing, and all the wonderful things God has provided to make my life more comfortable. I watched a video last night on PBS about the hardest places on Earth that people actually live, and I’m really grateful I don’t live in an arctic region or a dry, arid place. Although a dry, arid place might make my face feel a little better. I’m thinking my first stock investment might be Mucinex …

I’m also grateful for my family. My kids, who keep me honest and humbled. Who see me fail and still love me and forgive me. I’m thankful for siblings who still come around and call with such fidelity even though I hole up and disappear for months on end when I’m sad. I’m thankful for mornings with my mom at the gym, getting fit but really just there to see her every day. I’m thankful for a stepdad who should have been my real father. But God knows what we need when we need it most so I’m just glad he’s here. He’s the best.

I’m thankful for a church family, too. Those flawed people who refuse to quit on me and who lift me up in prayer far more than I know about. They’re an extension of the hands and feet of God in my life and I am so grateful to know Him more through them.

This year, I’m finally able to say I am also thankful for the suffering. I used to wonder what James meant when he said to be thankful for our sufferings. It used to really upset me that he would raise such a high bar with that statement (James 1:2) and then not tell me how I’m supposed to be genuinely overjoyed while life feels so awful. Finally, I think I get it, though.

If I have learned nothing else over the past few years, it is that suffering draws us nearer to God. When your life is so shaken that everything that can be shaken falls away (Hebrews 12:27), you realize that the only thing in your life that cannot be shaken is God. Your friendships, your familial relationships, your job, your bank account, your tithing, your ministry, all of these things and so much more can be shaken and broken up. They can all be destroyed in some way. Even your self-righteousness or your self-made holiness. All the things you do to make God proud, or yourself proud, all of those things can be uprooted in a flash of anger and confrontation. In that place, where the wreckage lies scattered all around, you will find that when you look up to God, He’s still right where you last saw Him and He’s acutely aware of you. Still waiting with open arms. Still willing to take you into them. And all of this because Christ decided, before you were even capable of some semblance of goodness on your own, that you were worth dying for. I’m so grateful for that.  

If you can’t find anything to be thankful for this year, that alone is enough. Even if your friends have deserted you, your family has turned their backs, your kids are such teenagers, or your job is a dead end street, you can rest today knowing that the Word says He loves us so much, no price was too much to pay to have us back from sin and death. He loves us so much, He is pouring out blessings. Open your eyes and see them! God is good, and for that, I am so very, very grateful. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

 

Gonna Be Worth It

Published October 31, 2018 by Dawn

The last two days, I have heard echoes of the conflict inside me from the mouth of a teenager and I have learned so much in speaking with him. I have ministered to him with many scriptures, because it’s easy to regurgitate scripture even when your heart is hurting. I have also shared my own stories of perseverance in the pain. I know too well the depths he’s drowning in.

“I don’t even know if I believe anymore. What’s the point in it? I mean, I want to but I just feel like everyone around me is having a great time with life and I am hurting. Nothing ever goes right, all joy is stolen from me right after it starts and I’m tired of it.”

Oh, boy! I said, “You seem to be in one of those moments where you’re like, ‘God! What are you doing in my life? You’re really hurting me!”

He nodded his head.

I shared with him some scriptures, starting with Psalms 72. He asked me to explain it to him. I told him that David prayed the same things. Everyone around him was prospering in life, and especially those who lived such wicked lives. David wondered at their peace and prosperity and asked, ‘What’s the point in keeping your commands, God, if I’m going to suffer so much in doing so?’

Then he went into the temple and prayed. He was reminded of the end; a time when all will reap what they sow and all that people have will blow away like dust and all that will remain is what has been done for the kingdom of God. I also mentioned that his belief in God “is not something you just walk away from because you are bitter. You can’t disown God after knowing Him as truth. You simply put up a wall of hatred and refuse to let him into your life. You lie to yourself because you feel betrayed.”

Why do we often feel betrayed? Here’s why: we haven’t properly read the Bible. Joel Osteen says God wants you healthy, wealthy and living your best life now, but that is not what the Bible says. We shouldn’t wonder at rejection, poverty, or any other suffering. Paul says we were destined for it (1 Thess. 3:3). He also tells us that Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. He learned to say, “this hurts, but whatever you want.” I reminded this kiddo of the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was so shaken by the suffering ahead that he prayed so fervently, he sweated blood. His prayer was that God let there be another way to redeem humanity. Jesus had shared so many times that this was his whole purpose in coming to earth, but in that moment, he really wanted to back out. “Father, if there be any other way, let this cup pass from me.”

It was a bitter cup. It would take all that he was capable of giving and all of the Spirit of God inside him to get through the agony of the next 24 hours of his life. The physical torture, the mental anguish, the final death. Sometimes, God takes us to the edge of ourselves and asks us to bring Him glory there. To do His will – drink the cup – in the worst moments of our pain.

This kiddo told me, “I’ve been suffering my whole life.” I simply said, “You know, me too. It’s never been easy. But God never said it would be. He told us to expect it. Jesus said, ‘If they rejected me, they’ll also reject you.’ You have something inside of you that no one wants to be confronted with because it testifies against their flesh (John 7:7). We’re no better, but the Spirit of God inside of us pours righteousness out on us and teaches us to live a different life than we can apart from Christ. People who don’t know Him can’t stand that.”

He started talking about doing good and being good as the whole purpose in all of this, i.e. the ticket he needed to get into heaven. I said, “No, the scriptures say that if you believe in your heart that Jesus is the son of God, and confess with your mouth that He was raised from the dead, you have citizenship in Heaven. But scripture also says that if you continue to live in sin after hearing this Word, you don’t know Jesus at all, and haven’t believed anything in your heart. You’ve just made a meaningless confession. It’s not truth in you (1 John 2:3-6). If you truly believe it, then you can’t disbelieve it just because you are suffering in life. That’s a lie based on bitter feelings. God did not ever promise us wonderful things this side of heaven. He actually told us we would suffer and be rejected, just like Jesus. Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8-9), and I know that sometimes, God teaches us obedience through our suffering as well. Also, we go through things just so that He can make us more like Christ. And Christ’s main goal, aside from dying as our substitute, was to bring glory to God.”

I watched the anguish melt from his face and tears form in his eyes and I knew he had taken a hold of hope again. As the devil continuously assaulted me over the last few days, I kept looking up to find the silver lining and rejecting the roots of bitterness that were trying to take hold of me again and again. I told God how faithful He is and how grateful I am to know Him and be a part of His plan, even though it hurts a lot. I can’t wait to get to heaven and see Christ face-to-face and feel the immediate release of anxiety when Jesus wraps His loving arms around me and says, “Well done.” I’ll sweat for that. I’ll take the blows and hand back mercy and forgiveness. I’ll die to self so Jesus can live through me. When these feelings overwhelm me, I’ll go to Him and be renewed and restored, and comforted, so I can comfort others with the comfort I have received (2 Cor. 1:4). It’s gonna be worth it!  

 

Unfathomable

Published October 5, 2018 by Dawn

I read through the Gospels last month and I had a mind-blowing realization that I immediately knew I wanted to blog about, but then I felt really stupid because I thought to myself, “Everyone already knows this! Why are you making such a big deal about it!” I talked myself out of blogging and wasn’t able to write another thing for two weeks. Every time I thought about blogging, this topic came back to mind because in my heart of hearts, I think it’s the most profound thing I’ve received in a long time. I have decided to write the blog because I feel like I need to be faithful to the Holy Spirit, who struck me with awe over Jesus once again.

Here’s the thing: I’ve heard about and preached on the death of Christ so many times. It’s the main ingredient to any message because if your teaching doesn’t revolve around or lead back to the death and resurrection of Christ, it’s not worth much. I’ve even considered his life: did you know that death on the cross was the final death of Christ, but certainly not his first? When Paul said, “I die daily,” he was telling his audiences how to be Christ-like. Jesus died daily too. For 33 years. Well, here’s what hit me the other day: Jesus fulfilled all of the law. We’ve all heard that, right? But what does it mean?

The law had two sides; the command and the way back to God if it was broken. The Law Moses gave the Israelites was extensive. It wasn’t a list of ten. It was a couple hundred commandments and how to avoid the wrath of God if one was broken. Each involved a sacrifice for repentance. Romans 6:23 sums up what the Old Testament taught over and over again, that “the wages of sin is death.”

Jesus lived the life we could never live. The life of perfection in the sight of God. The life that pleased God, to the detriment of flesh. Jesus said no to himself in every way so that the Father would be glorified. He did what no man could do while living in the flesh. Flesh is evil. Jesus put his flesh into submission. He fulfilled the requirements of God while living. He didn’t displease God in any way. He never required a sacrifice for repentance. He satisfied the perfect will of God for mankind. That in itself is amazing!

Then, he satisfied the other side of the law. The side that required a sacrifice to be made right with God again. “He made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). The only righteous one who ever lived paid the price for sin he never committed because he loved us and knew the price was too heavy for anyone to bear. I’m so overwhelmed by this truth. You’re probably like, “Duh!” But it hits me like it’s the first time every time I hear it! I can’t believe that Christ was willing to endure such pain for me. I can’t believe He would endure the wrath of God, the unbearable emptiness of God looking away from Him, just so God would never look away from me. When God sees us, He sees the righteousness of Christ. I don’t deserve that! I deserve His wrath. I deserve eternal death and damnation. What love is this?!

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me so much. It’s unfathomable.

Doctor Recommendation

Published October 4, 2018 by Dawn

I have now gone to the chiropractor two Mondays in a row. A vertebra in my lower back had slipped and there was a visible tilt in my trunk as well as a ton of pain. I could hardly walk for an entire weekend and called the chiropractor seven minutes after he opened the following Monday. The effects of his first adjustment were immediate and amazing. But as the week wore on, I could still feel a problem. My shoulders felt really weird, there was a twinge of pain that kept coming and going between my shoulder blades, and I had pain radiating up my neck. I walked into his office for a second time the next Monday and mercifully, he squeezed me in. After my second adjustment, I was finally pain free.

My mom and I were at the gym the next day and I said to her, “You have no idea how good it is to not be in pain. I feel like I’ve been in pain forever.” You might say, “Sounds like you were really only in pain for two weeks.” That’s what it sounds like, but I didn’t mention the constant pain from tight hamstrings or the fact that this vertebra had been working its way out of place for a while. It has literally felt like an eternity. To not feel any part of my back or legs is not normal for me. I am usually very aware of my body because it’s almost always screaming at me.

The thought occurred to me that there are people all over the world who share this experience. People who feel like they’ve been hurting for an eternity and have no idea if there’s a cure or if it’s just something they have to deal with for the rest of their lives. Some of these people hurt physically, and some of them hurt emotionally. If I knew a specialist who could help them find relief, I’d tell them about it immediately. I can’t stand the thought of people in pain! I am too intimately acquainted with constant pain to leave people to suffer.

So why am I not talking about Jesus like he’s the Great Physician? I know He can heal and restore. He’s mended my broken heart, healed my deep wounds, nursed me back to life and given me newness. He saved me from devastation and gave me a testimony. He literally pulled me away from my own obsession with suicide and given me reasons to live. He’s replaced all the brokenness in my life. People should know about this! If a person with back issues asked my recommendations, I’d give them the number of my chiropractor because I have experienced his expertise and think he’s amazing. Likewise, I took a lot of emotional turmoil to the feet of Jesus and found that he is most amazing! I recommend Him to anyone based on my personal experience!

Are you enough, or what?

Published September 13, 2018 by Dawn

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13) 

I couldn’t move past this verse today. It is sweet like honey and intensely satisfying to the hungry heart. Jesus was eating with “many tax collectors and sinners,” and a group of Pharisees came to interrogate him about it.

Knowing that Jesus is God in flesh, covered in the Holy Spirit at all times, I’m sure the Pharisees always felt His righteousness when they were around him. They felt the difference between their spirits and His. They were, no doubt, acutely aware of their righteousness being as filthy rags, but instead of humbling them, it hardened them. They found Jesus sitting around a bunch of sinful people and their first thoughts were to condemn him, because finally, they had a reason to point the finger and say “aha!”

“Do you know these people?”

I imagine their sneers.

“Do you know what they’ve done and the way they do others?”

“Are you gonna hang out with this trash?”

I love how Jesus talks about the men and women around him. He doesn’t speak of them as if they are lesser or unworthy. He calls them “sick.” He acknowledged their brokenness. Their desperate need of healing and cleansing. A doctor would take them in and clean their wounds, bind up their brokenness and tenderly nurse them back to health. Then, insist they come back for treatment as often as they need it.

Before this meal, he had walked past Matthew’s tax booth, looked over at him and said, “Come, follow me.” No one in their right mind would have talked to Matthew! He was a liar and cheat. He was, with permission from the oppressive Roman regime, robbing his flesh and blood for the sake of personal gain. But to Jesus, he was someone more than that. He was the man who would later write the first Gospel. He was a man who would, later that same night, invite a bunch of sinners into his house to hang out with God in the flesh. He was a gateway to the saving power of Christ in the lives of so many people who most likely weren’t welcome in the church, the market or anywhere else in town. Jesus called him out of his sin (literally, in the act!) and then used him immediately to call more to himself.

The Pharisees represent the church. It’s evident in reading through the gospels that they were self-righteous and indignant that Christ would rather hang out with people who were fleshly and in need than those who sacrificed every worldly comfort to be counted worthy in God’s eyes. Sacrifice, though. Let me pause there: I don’t think God is displeased with such offerings. I just think that when our sacrifice makes His mercy in the lives of others a point of contention between us and Him, we must understand that God would smile more upon our mercy to our fellow man than on our staunch sacrifice that often makes us feel self-made in His eyes.

Finally, I think it’s important to consider what the last part of this selection says: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” If we are honest with ourselves, we can humbly admit that He came to call us. We are sinners. In those moments when I feel righteous, I thank God that “… those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37). Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous to himself because they could never hear him anyway, over the sound of patting themselves on the back. C.H. Spurgeon once said, “While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” This is the attitude of those Christ has come to call, and those He will undoubtedly reach. Such people are aware of themselves. They know they are not enough on their own. But they also know that God makes them enough through the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

Thank you Lord, for saving such a wretch as I.