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June 24, 2013, 10:27 AM

The Swamp. . .


Yesterday (6/23/13), we began slogging through the swamp of Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Yes, its a swamp.  My mind wandered to the stories I've read or watched where our heroes came face to face with a swamp that stood between them and their ultimate goal.  

Did Jesus intend for his words to look so daunting and overwhelming?  Probably not, but the truth of the matter is that human nature (and even culture) sees mourning, depression, anxiety, and despair as insurmountable obstacles to traverse on our own.  How many commercials, articles, and products are we exposed to that are designed to "help" us through depression and anxiety?  I remember when my high school handed out stress balls to seniors the week before finals.  I promise we didn't use those for anything BUT relieving stress... and yes, that includes throwing them.  

We want a quick and easy way through the swamp, one that keeps our feet dry, keeps the bugs at bay, and ultimately smells more like home than what a swamp usually smells like.  As difficult as the swamp looks, sounds, and smells, we cannot avoid it.  As followers of Christ we must follow his steps no matter where they lead (that last statement is courtesy of the "Easier Said than Done" department).  

Jesus understands you, and me.  He knows how human nature works.  He knows how hard we work to protect ourselves.  He also knows exactly how to get the best out of us.  That process of growth and excellence begins with being Poor in Spirit and Mourning.  The two hardest steps up this mountain towards Godly character are right off the bat: Dependence and despair.   ONLY by taking these first two steps will we be on the right path towards Christ-like character.  Think about Jesus' humble beginnings here on Earth: born a carpenter not royalty, in a manger, far from home, and into a cultural mess that saw a tyrant commit mass genocide in an attempt to kill him.  As he walks through the humble beginnings we see the shaping of the character of Jesus that cares about the "'least of these."  We see compassion born from roots mired in hard work, without entitlement.  

Will we join him in that swamp?  Growing, developing our character into disciples built to guide others through the swamp of what life throws at them.  That was his final message to his closest friends, and that is the message that rings through the Beatitudes.  

I like the poem "Footprints in the Sand", but I've also grown disenchanted with it.  If only every long walk with Jesus was on a beach!!!  If only we could feel the sand between our toes and the sun on our faces as we transit through this life!!  Unfortunately, most of life looks more like a bog than a beach.  Will you still follow alongside him? 

 

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