I rarely get spiritual inspiration from horse eulogies. I suspect that does not make me unique. But I was moved by a comment in a story about Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro after he was euthanized. I admit that I got emotionally involved with the fight that Barbaro made for his life. From the heart wrenching injury to the hopeful progress I followed the story faithfully. It became apparent that the battle was lost. The comment that moved me came from co-owner Gretchen Jackson as she talked about the loss of Barbaro.
"Grief is the price we all pay for love."
That is a gut level truth. There is a price to pay for love and there is a risk. You can get hurt. You can lose the love of your life. People (and animals) die. But isn’t it better to love and experience grief and hurt than to retreat to a safe emotional bunker of isolation? I choose to take the chance to love. I must offer a disclaimer that I am not talking about abusive or dangerous relationships. Those require professional help and care. I am talking about taking the risk in everyday relationships. The same kind of emotional retreat can happen with friendship. Hurt can be the price you pay to make yourself vulnerable to others. I see this happen so often in church relationships. It happens so much that I wrote a book about it. Wounds from Christian friends cut so deep. That is because we have so much higher expectations from Christian friends and that creates devastating hurt when they don’t meet those expectations. I too often see the recipients of that hurt retreat to the safe bunker and sometimes never come out. That is not what God wants from us. Paul writes how we should live our lives as representatives of Jesus
(Conviction Warning…read at your own risk)
Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus… Colossians 3 NLT
Ouch. And amen. Christ is all that matters. We must not allow Satan to win this battle. Of course some church goers do things that are wrong and indefensible. When viewed through the lens of the culture you have every “right” to be angry. But the Holy Spirit is prompting us to see through a new lens. There is a praise song that asks the Lord to "open the eyes of my heart". And after they are opened I need to have Jesus “laser surgery” on the eyes of my heart so I can see through that new lens that Paul describes above. Easy? Hades no! But it is possible when we focus on how much we were forgiven when we were unforgivable and when we focus on how much we were accepted when we were unacceptable.
There is a huge risk when we allow ourselves to be that vulnerable. It is especially tough when we are once or twice burned. But it is a risk not only worth taking but I believe necessary to grow more Christ like. There is a new song coming out in April from Martina McBride. She debuted the song at the CMA Awards show and I have pre-ordered it for my iPod listening pleasure. She talks about the risks of life and offers some pretty good counsel. Here are some of the lyrics from Anyway…
You can spend your whole life building something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway
You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach and you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway
God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway, I do it anyway
This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons, and in a moment they can choose to walk away
And that is my desire as I follow Jesus. Sometimes life ain’t so good. But I choose to build it anyway. Dream it anyway. Believe it anyway. And even if I get hurt along the way I choose to love’em anyway. My reason for that is very simple. I was lost. Then Jesus said, "I love you anyway".
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author ofWhen Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com