Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Ministry of Tears

All of my days, I have been emotional. I come from good, hearty stock of emotional folks. There is good and bad in that. We are passionate about our callings and our choices and our beliefs. We are stubborn and strong-willed and, occasionally, far too sensitive in our day-to-day. The good and bad...melded.

Feeling deeply has led to some awkward moments--some laughable and some downright embarrassing. I have been known to cry during church--at worship, in prayer, during sermons. It is especially likely if I see someone else tear up. Whether from conviction or from awe, I see and feel God moving in others and I can't hold it in.  The moment often feels far too intimate for public consumption and I hastily wipe away tears, trying to make it look like an allergy attack rather than the work of the Holy Spirit. My husband will ask me if I'm ok and this just irritates me. "Yes, I'm fine! Stop staring at me!" And then there's this gem:

It's all fun and games until I get angry in public (maybe even legitimately) and then burst into tears. I'm taken a little less seriously then.

Because the deal is, we don't know what to make of deep emotions. We want to always be in control. Small tears may well up or perhaps even fall during socially acceptable times--a funeral, a wedding, a birth, a romantic movie.

If those are the rules, then I am doomed to be looked upon as someone who is a little unhinged. But I say it's time the rules were changed--maybe even tossed out.

In my current devotional, I am reading about the importance of reading my Bible. Seems pretty fundamental but firm foundations, a great building can make. On one of the days, the title of the devotional was "Engage It (the Bible) Emotionally." (I inwardly cheered.) The point the writer made was this:
While we cannot only approach scripture with our emotions (it is Truth, after all, regardless of how we feel or what kind of day we’re having), we are to approach it with our whole selves. In doing so, we can engage Scripture in a way that prepares our heart for devotion and adoration...My emotions can fuel a fresh desperation and desire for God and His Word...This is why we approach Scripture emotionally—that we would be restored to God’s best way of handling those emotions. That we’d bring our humanity under the authority of our Father because we’ve been redeemed by Jesus. God is good to take our humanness and not despise it, but to refine it and use it.
And so I have come to the conclusion that tears at hearing God's Word, at seeing others worship, in your own worship, in prayer, are a spiritual gift. Compassion to the point of crying brings a person low--out of the rafters, low; spiritually (and sometimes physically) falling prostrate before God. It is a low that allows glimpses of a truly Holy God.

Too often, I hold back rather than let the Holy Spirit wash over me like a wave and let the tears flow.
Too often, I hold back rather than lay myself prostrate at the feet of Jesus, surrendering my will, my plans, my designs, my life to Him.
Too often, I hold back rather than bend my knees on behalf of a world in desperate need of Him.

I want these words to be my life's cry:

"With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from your commandments!" (Psalm 119:10)

"And from His fullness, we have all received Grace upon Grace." (John 1:16)

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.'" (Romans 10:9-11)

"If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday, and the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." (Isaiah 58:10-11)

Let my heart be moved by the likes of these and when my heart is moved, let my tears fall fresh.