Though I always have an idea for Sunday night worship at Up Town we never have a program, and so we are constantly and (mostly pleasantly) surprised. We have been looking at Luke’s Gospel for the past few months. We have come to love his special inclusion of the outsider in the Kingdom of God: the shepherds in the Christmas Story, Zacchaeus, the prodigals etc. We have come to see Luke as our Gospel writer as we relate to each other as outsiders who find our way in by grace.
Last Sunday we were to read Peter’s great confession “You are the Christ!” During our prayer time, which is often the most precious time of our gathering, one young woman who battles constantly with a wide variety of mental illnesses, began to pray. Lately she has had episodes of ‘acting out’ towards her caregivers. This is totally out of her usual character as she is the gentlest of human beings. These new manifestations have caused her considerable stress. She prayed telling her Heavenly Father that she didn’t know who she was any more. It was absolutely heart rending to hear her pour out her anguished soul to God. Her prayer ended on a powerful note as she said “I may not know who I am but I do know who you are!” In doing this she reaffirmed her commitment to follow Jesus because even if it was a difficult way it was the only way, the way of hope.
At the moment of his confession Peter probably thought he knew himself. My guess is he had a pretty high opinion of himself but after his denials and Jesus’ crucifixion his self-image was shattered. He later found himself only in the grace Christ offers. He perhaps recalled his words “Where could we go? Only you (Jesus) have the words of eternal life.”
The way is hard, and for some like my heroic friend it is exceedingly hard but as the old hymn says “where can I go but to the Lord.” When our son Jamie died, Linda and I held onto each other and asked “How do people without Jesus survive things like this?”
The hope of the Good News to the outsider is not a carefree life but a life where we can “Cast all our cares on Him for He cares for you.” (Another wise word from our friend Peter)
I pray for my friend’s deliverance. It is not fair that this sweet woman should suffer in this way! Yet the way of triumph for her may not be in deliverance from but deliverance through. Of such people the world is not worthy!