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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How to suffer by keeping your mouth shut



Every fourth Sunday of the month I go through agony.

Self-induced agony at that.

I know it's coming, and I can't avoid it.

Nor do I want to.

Nursing Home Sunday.

From the moment I receive the Scriptures for that week, my mind becomes preoccupied...everything else takes a back seat to "Whatever am I going to say?".

For a woman who loves words, this should not be a problem!

It's not like there will be a crowd...usually a dozen or less residents show up.

And most of them won't hear what I'm saying.

And if they do, they will likely forget the message long before the end of the day!

Usually it goes something like this...

I pray. I study. I write. I pray more fervently. Lose some sleep. Wake up Sunday morning wondering what I have gotten myself into.

Who am I to think I have anything to say?

I don't.

And that's the whole point.

Every. Single. Time. I stand there and am amazed.

By faith I open my mouth.

By grace the miracle happens...



And I become a bystander, eavesdropping in on Someone Else's conversation...

What He wanted to say all along.

All He needed was a willing victim to speak through!

It happened again last weekend, Palm Sunday.

In I went with four pages of notes...carefully prepared and typed up...

A message on Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem...of course...

But God had another message in mind...

One that sounded strangely like a "heart-to-heart" a friend and I had shared that same week.

A topic that I have spent many hours thinking through...

Praying through...

Working through...

One that seemed especially pertinent to this Holy week...

How to suffer by keeping your mouth shut.

I see that hand...

"But I've suffered more for opening my mouth than shutting it!"

"True that", as my son would say.

Such a thing befalls all sinners at times.

No, what I'm talking about here is a blessed kind of suffering...

A custom-made call straight from the heart of God to look like a fool.

And not to justify...or defend...or shed some light on what is being said or done against us.

Like a sheep before its shearers is silent, we are commanded not to say one word.

To anyone.

Only God.

I don't know about you, but this is very, very hard for me.

I'm not a big fan of dying to self, and I really like upholding a good reputation.

And keeping my mouth shut?  Like using bare hands to close a steel door trap, it takes some grunt work.

But this call to come aside...

To take our broken and anguished hearts to God...

Gives us an opportunity to identify with Christ in a way that no sunny day or happy circumstance will ever provide...

To join Him in His sufferings.

Philippians 3 sets out the cry of Paul's heart...

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings..."

And isn't that the cry of our hearts also?

Standing in the nursing home, listening to the Holy Spirit teach on this,

Gave me an incredible love for a Savior,

Who loved me enough to be misunderstood...mocked...spit upon...beaten and scourged.

Crucified.

And never once did He defend Himself...

But committed Himself to His Father, who judges all things fairly.

I want to encourage you today if you are in this situation...

Don't fight the call...embrace it.

Sharing in His sufferings does not seem like a gift...

But it is.

I promise, you will find grace...and hope...

And a love for Him that only comes through suffering.