Thursday, July 08, 2010

.My New Role.

My Granddad, whom I love with my whole heart, said something a long time ago that I just never forgot. He said, "I think when Paul had a hard day, he said to himself, 'this one's for Stephen'." If it doesn't immediately come to mind, Paul was responsible for the stoning of Stephen. Stephen, the man with vast potential. The one who could have shaken the world for Christ... and Saul (now Paul) knew it... so he tracked him down and he stoned him to death.

When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
~Acts 7:54-60

Just imagine, living with the reality of this as your past. Living with the truth that you are ultimately responsible for the death of Stephen. Then, imagine your life was lived out as Paul describes his:

I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

~2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Imagine, you have been beaten, stoned, left to die... what does that next morning look like? The bruises. The pain. Talking yourself into moving... making yourself get blood flowing though your aching muscles. living with the pain as your flesh scares over. My Granddad argues that Paul woke each morning, telling himself "This one's for Stephen." He shoke off the pain, he cleared the cobwebs and he journeyed on, because he had the mission of two men (himself and Stephen) to fulfill. I certainly understand that this is conjecture, but if there is one man on earth I would trust to conjecture about the thought life of Paul it would be Granddad.

So why is this thought rattling through my brain? Why?
Because I am shaken with the reality that my life, passive as I have lived it, leaves me with the responsibility of many... not just one. For years I have intentionally turned a blind eye to the fatherless, while crying for people to show the love of a father... The Father. No more. No more double standard, no more hypocricy, no more.

God help me to advocate for the fatherless... God help me to see beyond me... God help!

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

I love that God is changing us simultaneously. This journey has more times than not felt lonely, but then I lift my head and see you next to me facing the same direction fighting the same battle. I am so thankful that we are in this together. This is not how I pictured it. It's so much better. Can't wait to see what else God has in store for us!
You're my favorite.