LeAnn Wolmac wrote a song several years ago titled ‘I hope you dance.’ I believe she wrote this with her little girls in mind. It’s a wonderful song encouraging them to live life to it’s fullest and not let go of the innocence that comes as a child. In fact, one of the lines is, ‘I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.’ As children, we have that, don’t we? That innocent perspective that sees everything through big eyes .. believing that nothing could hurt you and that all you see is good. Awe-struck if you will. As adults, however, we can sometimes misplace that sense of wonder.
How easy is it to get derailed by life! I was thinking about Stephen from the Book of Acts (Acts 6:8 – Acts 7:60). Here this guy is full of the Holy Spirit, preaching the gospel, performing signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit, and finds himself one day confronting the Religious Sect of Jews. The Bible tells us he was arguing with these men yet the wisdom which he spoke confounded them. So these religious fellows decided to call the people against Stephen and have him arrested. On the witness stand, Stephen began a sermon about Joseph and Moses and proceeded to ridicule these religious people for their lack of following the very law they claimed to enforce. Actually, Stephen was pretty much ‘in your face’ confrontational at this point. Shortly thereafter, the people dragged him out of there and stoned him to death. Just before he died, it tells us that he looked up in heaven, seen Jesus, prayed for his persecutors, and then died at the feet of Saul.
As Christians, we often speak of the joy of the Lord and how beautiful life is. However, as disciples of Christ, Jesus us tells us that we will experience persecution. In some places still today, Christians have Stephen-like experiences and actually lose their lives. In our country, we may not lose our physical lives, but certainly our sense of wonder can be stolen or even misplaced for a while .. which can certainly feel like you lost your life.
I often wonder what went through Stephen’s mind as he verbally battled with these men. Did he wrestle with his own heart to see through God’s eyes and not his own? Did he struggle with not allowing bitterness to settle in? Was their anger in his voice as he called them ‘stiff-necked people?’ Did he have moments where he wanted to fight back, especially as the stones continued to come … blow by blow? Did he second guess his own words and actions as he was being crushed by the stones? My guess is, he probably had a moment where he lost his sense of wonder. Luckily, we know that Jesus stepped in, but not to save his physical life. I personally think He stepped in as a reminder that Stephen was on the right path. Perhaps that last bit of inspiration was just the motivation Stephen needed to pray for his offenders. He always shows us the way. He promised He would.
Sometimes I think … actually, I know, we are way too hard on ourselves. As Christians, we expect that we are supposed to be perfect. That we are to handle every situation that comes our way with dignity and grace and any reaction to the actions against us, well, we persecute ourselves. Not that we shouldn’t consider how we could have handled situations differently and learn from them so that we can grow and change, however let’s stop helping the devil to defeat God’s army! When we go into the cycle of self-defeat, all we really do is arm Satan with ammunition and disarm ourselves from being effective to do God’s work. It doesn’t mean we can do and say whatever we want, but isn’t there supposed to be ‘Freedom In Christ?’ Perhaps that freedom means that Jesus’ blood is sufficient enough to cover, not just the assailant, but our own mistakes trying to be a good soldier.
What an amazing concept! I am in awe! Truly, His plan was designed to INCLUDE my mistakes! Perhaps that’s what He meant when He said, ‘My yoke is easy.’ I don’t think being full of the holy ghost means that we are going to do or say things that aren’t the ideal way of handling a situation. I think it means that we will be given the boldness to move forward towards the cross, at all cost. Wow! You know … it’s funny because when I started this blog, this isn’t the direction I was headed.
But then …. God has this way of helping me find things I thought I had misplaced.