Friday, June 22, 2012


Last night as I was falling asleep I started thinking about all the different ways I've been hurt emotionally over the last few years. I started asking God to heal me of those. During the night as I woke up over and over I would pray and ask the Lord to heal my heart in those areas.

I woke up this morning with the Peter Gabriel song "Digging in the Dirt" in my head, especially the line, "I'm digging in the dirt to find the places I got hurt". So, I listened to that song in the car this morning on my way to work.

As I was talking to the Lord about this I realized that I had shut myself off from pain, and therefore lost my heart for others.

See, I have a little secret. Over the last several months now I’ve felt very numb. I have lost my passion for things that used to drive me and excite me. Even though I have prayed about this often and taken it to the Lord, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the cause of this loss of passion might be, although I had a few suspicions.

I thought that it could be the loss of my friend Robert Higgins to bone cancer about a year and a half ago. But still I wasn’t sure. I’ve recently lost a lot of people, a lot of friends, for various reasons and the pain is still very real to me. Sometimes people have moved away to pursue a career or to follow God’s calling. Some friends just walked away from me because of differences in theology. Some just stopped returning emails or phone calls and I have no idea what, if anything, I did or said to create the space. Others have drifted away. Some friends that I care about have insulted me or made comments that have hurt me deeply. Over time, all this accumulation of pain has slowly paralyzed me.

As I was driving to work listening to the Gabriel song on my stereo and talking to God about this, I thought about the word, “Passion.” I had slowly lost my passion for things like poverty, social justice, the Gospel of the Kingdom, making disciples, organic church, and everything else that used to interest me. The word passion means literally “to suffer.” Then I thought about another word, "Compassion" which means "to suffer with". This is what I had lost. I realized that I had lost my heart of compassion for others because I didn’t want to hurt anymore.

Essentially, I have retreated to my comfort zone, and I'm very snuggly and warm and comfortable now. I’m safe and I like it. No one can hurt me here. But at the same time, I am unable to engage with the people that God has called me to serve, and to share in the sufferings of those who need to experience the tangible love of Jesus.

I can think back over the last few months and see places where I’ve held back from serving or sharing with others. Now I can see why, and it doesn’t excuse my apathy, but at least now I can sort of understand what was happening and why.

Now that I’m aware of my situation, I can at least start to fight my way out of this. But I know it won’t be easy.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to escape this soft, comfy prison I’ve made for myself. The hardest thing for me right now is to even want to escape it, because my flesh is resisting the process of stepping out again into the cold to share in the suffering of others.

It's really just so much easier to stay where I am and to remain disengaged. At the same time my spirit and my heart know that this is wrong and that I need to return to the Lord and to take up my cross again and die to myself. I need those nails. I need to let Jesus crucify this flesh again.

One of the only people in my life who has stood beside me, loved me, cared for me, and encouraged me through it all is my amazing wife, Wendy. Before I left for work in the morning I had shared with her my confusion over my lack of passion of late. When I got to work I sent her an email to explain a bit more about what I had discovered after praying in the car and listening to the song.  Her response to me was to keep on pouring myself out to the Lord in service to others and in thanksgiving. Then she said she had already heard from the Lord to share a quote with me that we both love from Mother Teresa that says, “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, there is no hurt, only more love."

In the end, it’s still all about daily putting myself to death. It’s about enduring the cross so that I can allow the life of Jesus to thrive within my heart.

Please God, help me to throw off these soft chains that so easily entangle me, and let me press on to the high calling of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, my Lord and King.

Conversatio Morem! Death to my status quo!




Dori Hutcheson said...

The best post you have written that touched my heart, Keith. Who can not resonate with this struggle? It is common to all of us at one time or another. I personally believe Jesus allows us to go through it because he is always has life in us that works like a tap root to search and stretch deeper than we have ever gone before into the love of God,.
He who despising the shame, sacrificed all for all shares his life as we share his suffering.
I want to put your post in my bible, because I know I will struggle with it again in a future season, as it has been a familiar struggle in my past.
Thanks for sharing so honestly and not rationalizing away what is a tendency for all of us.
May you now start enjoying the wonderful adventure of the depth of Christ's love and see even farther reaches of his kingdom in your life.
Btw, awesome shout out to your wife!!!

the alternative1 said...

thank you for this good post--i printed it so i can contemplate it

co_heir said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've gone through this a few times in my life, and was in danger of falling back into it during the last 6 months. Fortunately, God won't let me numb my heart. I tried, and I just can't do it anymore. I guess I'll have to deal with the pain. :)