“Jesus didn’t come to get you out of this life. He came to live in you through it.”
It was a simple statement, no radical new theology, and yet these words from a humble, godly counselor, Dr. Frank Gripka, altered the trajectory of my life. All I could see was the rubble at my feet; he helped me see that Christ was with me in the rubble. Christ, present in the ruins.
I had just spent a month in a psychiatric hospital, being treated for severe clinical depression, not an illness with much curb appeal in the Evangelical Church.
As the former co-host of the daily news, commentary and ministry show, The 700 Club, I believed I was a failure, a disappointment and an embarrassment. My plan was to quietly disappear and wait for Christ to take me home. I knew there would be no “Well done, good and faithful servant” greeting, but at least the pain and the struggle would be over.
My discharge papers from the hospital indicated that I should touch base with a local counselor. I didn’t want to do that. I was having a very hard time making eye contact with anyone, as the weight of shame I carried was a crushing beast with a convincing script. I believed everything it said.
You don’t belong You let people down You are weak You are a liability You are intrinsically flawed
Those words clung to my life like ravenous parasites. I’m amazed now that I lived for so long with such faulty theology. But I did and many do.
Dr. Gripka’s words carried the beginning notes of a song of grace that changed everything.
Though I was ashamed of myself, Christ was not ashamed to own me. The very thing that I thought disqualified me from ministry became the very connection that led me to thousands of others who were living by the same toxic script of shame. My brokenness was a far greater bridge to others than pretend-wholeness ever was.
The grace-filled bottom line is this: we’re not the good news, Jesus is! When we fall on our faces before Him and admit our need, we discover the beauty of redemption; for I have seen what God will do with a broken life if you give Him all the pieces. Our strength will never lie in our own ability but in our relentless trust in Christ to live and love through us.
I don’t know what the year 2015 was like for you. I know it was a rough year for many, my family included. But now we stand on the threshold of a brand New Year, a year that will be pivotal in our nation’s history.
So how then shall we live?
Will we retreat into the quiet and wait for Christ to rescue us, or will we rise up and live like the beautiful Body of Christ we are called to be?
We can’t convince anyone of the life-changing power of Christ, but the Holy Spirit can.
We can’t change the course of our nation’s history, but Christ can.
Perhaps as you look at your life at the end of the past year you feel defeated, ashamed and powerless. I understand, but let me remind you of Christ’s words to a man who had spent most of his life lying by the side of a pool waiting for someone to rescue him, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6)
It’s time for us to rise up and live!
It’s time to live what we say we believe.
What would it look like if all across our nation, around the world and in every little town and village, those who claim the name of Christ began to rise up and live as people not bound by their past but compelled by their glorious future?
It would change the history of the world!
It would usher in the return of Christ.
For me … I’m all in. In his name I declare, I will rise!