Friday, May 02, 2008

Recovery Time

In the health and fitness world, one way you can gauge your cardio vascular fitness level is by how quickly you recover from a workout. In other words, if you step off the treadmill feeling like you are completely spent after four or five miles, the amount of time it takes for your heart rate to return to normal indicates just how fit you really are.

Recovery time is huge.

I've heard Christian speakers say that the maturity or deepness of your faith can be measured by how quickly you drop to your knees in a time of crisis. But I say ... it's how quickly you can stand back up again; recover, move forward, keep trusting.

Recovery time.

Honesty with God means there will be times when you get bleary eyed and snotty nosed as you enter into serious dialogue with Him. After all that, after the melt down, how long does it take to recover? To stand?

I have tried to keep a convenient distance from the line of thinking that says, "God is trying to teach you something from this experience" -- handing you some profound teaching on a silver platter, if you will. Call it semantics, but I have always framed it as, God uses everything. I struggle to say God causes everything, especially for the sake of a lesson. Surely God is clever enough that he can "teach" me without practically killing me first. There's just too much crazy, senseless stuff going on in the world for that ideology to stick.

Perhaps he ... allows ... knowing how he can then ... use it ... to help us grow. OK, I can accept that. And maybe as we come to terms with this idea, our recovery time improves. I don't mean the time from when I feel "oppressed" until the time when everything is magically all better. I mean the recovery time from getting off the floor to standing.

I heard one of my favorite Robbie Seay songs today. It's called Song of Hope:

All things bright and beautiful You are
All things wise and wonderful You are
In my darkest night, You brighten up the skies
A song will rise
I will sing a song of hope
Sing along
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down
Just to know that You are near is enough
God of heaven come down, heaven come down ...

Just to know that You are near is enough, God of heaven come down. What a basic yet profound truth. Emmanuel. God with us.

What I'm trying to get at ... what I'm trying to convey ... in a way, it is like the resignation expressed by Peter when he and Jesus broached the subject of his denial.

{15} When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." {16} Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." {17} The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.
-- John 21:15-18

Sometimes, it takes a little doing before we will bow our head in resignation and confess, "Lord, you know all things, you know I love you." Like Peter, we feel hurt that Jesus would ask this question. Yet for whose benefit is it asked? If the thoughts taking place between our two ears don't match the profession being made by our mouths, then the question must be addressed! I notice that the next words that come out of Jesus' mouth are not, "Good, I hope you've learned your lesson," or "You know I had to let you go through that denial thing for a reason," or "See how much stronger you are now?" No, Jesus cuts to the chase and says, "Feed my sheep."
"I have something better for you, to feed my sheep, but you have to work through this first."

Certainly, everyone is walking wounded. Certainly, Jesus can make use of us in the midst of this wounded state. And certainly, his ultimate desire is for us to be whole.

Let me say that again. I believe the Lord desires wholeness for all of us. He desires us to be reconciled to Him and to be reconciled to one another. Reconciliation is the next logical step after love and forgiveness. Yet there is a purpose for it that goes beyond us feeling happy and peppy and bursting with love. Joy may be the fruit of salvation, but there is work to be done, which equates to an expression of our love for Him. I don't get to live like Little Jack Horner, sitting in the corner enjoying my Christmas pie. Jesus says, "Let's get you whole then let's get to work..."

Recovery time -- not a time for sitting on my proverbial laurels. It's a time to get up off of the floor, to stand. To be used of God for His kingdom.

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