I have a few people I really look up to.
Most are no longer living.
A few are.
Jesus and my Husband are close to the top. And then there is Paul.
Paul takes my breath away.
Not in the ‘Oh my gosh he is so handsome’ kind of way. I have no idea what he looks like in real life. He takes my breath away as in, if God can use ‘him’ then there is hope for me!
If God can forgive ‘him’, then there is hope, grace is available for me!
I don’t have that pretty past that everyone can wrap up in a pretty gift-wrap with a neat bow all in the course of a 5 minute monologue.
I actually have that past where people hide it from others because most just don’t want to know it.
And that is perfectly fine with me. God reveals my past to those that need it along the path of our journey together.
So when the movie Paul-The Apostle of Christ came out recently I am not ashamed to admit, I cried watching the preview.
Like bawled! And watched it 4 times! With my husband looking over my shoulder and he’s exclaiming “We have go to see that movie!”
Yes, why yes we do.
So this week as we were heading over the hill to the big city for some training for him (more on that in another post!) I took the chance to book us a hotel near a theater that was playing this movie.
I bawled… through nearly the whole thing. I knew I would. And to be honest, I don’t even know how to remotely explain what I was feeling. Except, you know me, I am going to try….
Not to generalize, but for lack of a better resource, there are a few type of Christians in this world. One being the one’s that are raised in Christian home where the bible is taught and followed every day.
Down to the Christian that never knew the bible. Led a life full of sin and knows they were handpicked, by God, and lifted out of the rubble of a life they attempted to create for themselves, dusted off and whispered in their soul, “I love and cherish you! Go out and share My love.”
There are also many more in between. Those are just examples.
I admire the first group. Probably a little more then I should. But I do. Because I am in the second group. The thought of never having a moment when I didn’t know who Jesus was…. is just a dream for me.
But there is something that comes from being in the second group that I have noticed. It’s a look. An inhale of a breath when you speak Jesus’ name. A micro expression that flashes across our faces as we are sitting in a casual setting, talking about Jesus. Those of us in this second ‘born again’ ‘rescued from the brink of our own destruction’ group notice it among each other. You might have seen it… the expression of someone and another from across the room exclaims, “I’m with ya. I know ya” and everyone looks at them like what in the world are they talking about?
Almost like it’s a secret society among certain believers…. But it’s not.
It is simply the gift of grace. The knowledge of what sin can really do to one person. Internally and externally and the feeling of the Holy Spirit awakening within you. Dusting you off while calling your name and whispering in your soul…. Breath my love.. For such a time as this…
The moment you realize that Grace is obtainable even for you!
The moment you vow…. You never want to forget where you came from.. and what it felt like…. to be lost… and then to be found!
Here I am, sitting in a movie theater with 5 other people. Yes, it was empty. And no.. I wasn’t the only one sobbing. I am literally watching the screen and inside I feel as if my soul is drinking up the movie. Reaffirming to me that i am loved… I am loved by God and called by Him.. and chosen. CHOSEN.
You see, Paul is the example that God gave me. When satan was screaming in my head that I am useless and will never amount to anything… that God hates people that do what I have done. God simply, and lovingly whispers “Paul” into my heart.
If God can call Paul off the road he was on. Dust him off and use him to build His kingdom… A man that murdered other Christians…. then I know, that God can forgive and use me. I simply need to whisper it under my breath when satan rears his ugly accusations… “Paul!”
So during the movie… Luke is with Paul… and they are having a dialog between them… Yes I lost it….
This is from the first chapter in the Bible that I have ever read… 1 Corinthians 13. It is what kept me going in this world. It is what I cling to when people are mean or accuse me of things that are wrong… it is what I cling to and repeat to myself when satan is trying to make me doubt….
To see it played out on screen… was to much for my soul….
Jump forward to the moment the Christians from the prison are being led into the coliseum…. In 1999 I was blessed with the opportunity to actually visit the coliseum in Rome. I say blessed in an odd way. I know I wasn’t the only one that felt it.. many of us did. The overwhelming despair of lives lost in a horrific battle after battle… a satanic pull of wills… A heaviness overtook the entire location. So when the movie screen panned to the prisoners walking in the gates into the coliseum I was thrown back to the moment when I was literally standing at those doors!
In that doorway…..Those bars around me… The feeling of death surrounding me… the feeling….
And what is it that flashes in my mind at that moment, as I am smelling the smell of the coliseum?
I see the cats that were everywhere when I visited… and hearing the tour guide talking about how the cats are a nuisance. (But aren’t they cute?)
Paul is correct… we can not repay evil for evil. We must love one another. And I find that hard to do when I am focusing on what someone is doing to me. and not focusing on what Jesus did for me.
If I look at the world as a check sheet where I repay everyone for how they treat me.. then I am never going to find peace in this world. But if I look at this world through Paul’s eye’s… then I will have succeeded in showing people what God’s love looks like on a tiny scale.
I choose to view it the way Paul did.
It makes keeping score pointless… and life… so worth living…
I know, to some this seems so foreign. We should repay evil with evil you are saying. We should hate those that hate us… we should…..
We were given a simple, yet such a hard commandment by Jesus himself to do…. “Love everyone as I have loved you.” I always thought that commandment was so easy. Till this last year. Where it tested every fiber of my being… and I have only one thing to say.. that I have learned from that saying….
It is hard for someone that has never been forgiven to understand what grace and forgiveness really look like. Those that have, and truly know what it is to be forgiven… do it with a loving grateful heart. They can’t help not to. It is just part of their Christian nature.
Love, truly is the answer… even still… today!