Posts Tagged With: community

Bridge-Burning, Bridge-Building, and Wall-Building

A boy once lived through a river crossing. The waters receded and the ground became dry and the people crossed. But a few people stayed in the middle, stranded on high places in the river. They lived on islands in the middle of a grand, wide river.

As the boy grew up, he noticed the people in the middle. When he became a man, he longed to cross the stream again to bring more people across. He dreamed of just the right bridges and how to reach those on the other side and those on the islands.

He lived at the edge of the river and build a few walls for his home and then began planning to reach those on the islands and those on the other side. He watched their habits. He waved at people on the islands and on the other side, and he one day noticed that if he stepped into the stream a little and asked for help, he could reach the islands nearby. He would visit the people and talk to them. Sometimes people received him, sometimes they didn’t.

The budding bridge-builder would bring food and the fruit of the land to those on the islands. He gave them things to read to pass their time with joy. A few crossed over and left their islands, and joy filled his heart. All of his friends and family received the newly landed people and he was happy.

Gradually, he invited others to help him build bridges to those further out on the islands. He would look for the best place to land the bridge and visited with gifts of peace. On occasion he found islands where people had built walls all around the islands like fortresses and who refused to cross over or even to greet him. He pressed on and went to the islands that were accessible.

Sometimes he would build a bridge to an islander and the person attacked him. When this happened, he put up a gate on the island bridge to protect himself and the other incorporated citizens. Then, he moved on to build more bridges.

On rare occasion, he found islanders who would receive him freely at first, but later would burn all the bridges to their island. While he never understood why people would stay on the islands, he refused to muddle in the river weeping forever over the bridges that could have been and would venture out to new islands.

He kept finding new islands. Occasionally, he would even call out to those on the other side and would send a boat to retrieve those who wanted to cross. Yes, there is danger in bringing people safely to land. Yes, it is a life prone to long hours alone reaching islands and reaching out to the other side, but every time someone rejoined the people of the land and the rejoicing went up, the labor was worth it.

So will you build bridges or burn them? Build brick walls with graffiti smiley faces or put in doors and windows, ready to open the gates when the time is right.

Categories: Missions, Peer support, Testimony | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cutting Words – Healing Hearts

Crushed, disappointed, insulted, rejected? ... Press on. There is more in store. Cry out to God for the promise to come.

Crushed, disappointed, insulted, rejected? … Press on. There is more in store. Cry out to God for the promise to come.

This post is dedicated to a young woman I spoke with recently, and to all who self-injure &/or have suicidal thoughts.

Sometimes in this world, people both old and young say things that are mean-spirited. Sometimes they say them simply to make themselves look good. It can hurt even worse when they say things just to hurt someone else. Either way, those words which expose how far short of perfection a girl or boy falls often lead to feelings of shame, loneliness, and hopelessness.

“Will anyone love me just for me? Does anyone really care about me? I want to be beautiful / handsome. I want to be strong / elegant. I want to be liked and appreciated. Instead my face is rubbed in the dirt.”

Sometimes fellow students tear down the weaker ones. It is after all easier to pick on those who won’t fight back.

Sometimes parents expect a cool perfection from their children. It is after all parents’ job to help their kids grow up to face the realities of the harsh world.

Sometimes bosses or co-workers can pressure a struggling worker to perform beyond capacity or even perform more than everyone else.

Sometimes other authorities can put pressure on those under their charge. NOTHING WE DO IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH, cries the hurting heart.

There are two most common ways to respond: In anger: lashing out at those who insult. In self-loathing, listening to all those voices that expose imperfection.

Imperfections that make us feel ashamed, can also add unique dignity to each of us. They are like the freckles that
Natasha Bedingfield sings about:

This reminds me of Jesus: sometimes people of His day talked about Him because He didn’t wash His hands. Sometimes people insulted Him because He was so confident that He had a special relationship with God. They hated Him because He worked long hours and healed the hurting and forgave the seemingly unforgiveable. Jesus forgave anyway.

In 1 John, it says that the spirit of the antichrist denies two things: 1. That Jesus came from God and 2. That Jesus came in the flesh. Taken to logical conclusion, the antichrist spirit denies the deity and humanity of Jesus.

So what? What difference does that make in how the poor kid who gets picked on in school feels?

When somebody treats you like you are not made in the image of God, that is the antichrist at work. If someone is despising you and all that you do, they are not doing the work of God but are serving the devil. Satan tries to get us to regret that we live. God gets us to regret that we have sinned. Lord, have mercy!

When someone treats you like you are not human with human feelings and an ordinary human body with human wants and needs, that is the antichrist at work. The antichrist expects a sterile sanctification. The Spirit of Jesus washes us with water from the Word, the Word of God. Lord, thank you!

And God’s word says, He loved us enough to send His own Son to cover over ALL our imperfections, sins, shame, and flaws. That is why Jesus was scarred on the cross and on the way to the cross was beaten and tortured, so that you and I could hold our heads up in dignity when the world, our old flesh, and the devil conspire to make us feel like we are useless and unwanted. He set aside heaven’s arms so that we could lift up holy hands and praise Him.

If people tell you that you are good for nothing and dirty: First, clean up if you are dirty. Second, be glad that you are clean in God’s sight. Third, forgive the people who have such dirty hearts that all they can see is filth.

If your own mind tells you that you are unloveable: First, separate the truth from the lie. While love is never “deserved,” anyone can be loved. God loves the least, the lost, the last. God loves you. Second, read promises in the Bible about how the Lord’s purpose is to bless and not curse. Third, receive God’s forgiveness for all your faults. He delights in you and rejoices over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

We need to realize who is the source of all these accusations though: it is the devil, satan, that old serpent, the dragon. Satan hates you. God, however, loves you and delights in you. If you have persevered in reading this, I believe God is calling you to a deeper knowledge of His mercy. Consider reading a chapter from the Proverbs and a chapter from the Gospels every day. Or, develop your own plan for reading through the whole Bible in a year … and stick to it. God will speak to you in new and amazing ways. The lies of the devil will fade.

Maybe you are married and your spouse hates you and you feel miserable and you feel like giving up: Let me encourage you to keep loving and keep forgiving. God has a prize for those who persevere in marriage.

Maybe you feel lonely because all your fellow students or co-workers seem to despise you and ignore you or trip you up: Let me encourage you that you are special in God’s eyes. What you are learning is something teachers can’t teach you. You are learning what Jesus taught us, to love your enemeies. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up: your work will be rewarded by the one who supervises all bosses and you are storing up for yourself a retirement that is out of the world.

God loves you. Jesus proves it. Live.


Now, about those who tear you down, how do you deal with them?

I must be 100% honest here: I am far from perfect. When I was a teenager, I picked on other students. Then, one day, a classmate I was picking on, told me off. They responded and told me to shut up, I was getting on their nerves. Maybe I was more sensitive than some bullies, but I don’t think so. When they talked back and said, “Shut up, it’s not nice, I’m not all that bad, you don’t have your facts straight.” I shut my mouth. I stopped insulting. Later, the Lord would fill my heart with Love, with the Holy Spirit as I started to regularly read the Bible and pray for the Lord to teach me how to love. God changed me.

Life is not easier for me, it is harder. But that is OK. It was not easy for Jesus, and He is with me when I face insults and injury, hospitalizations and hatred.

If you care to contact me, write to: MertAKA -at- everybody .ORG

Peace,
Mert Hershberger

Categories: Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.