We are all hoarders at heart.  While some may feel pride that they have not yet been featured on an episode of the reality TV show, Hoarders, we all collect and keep far more then we need.  Maybe this is more of a problem nowadays because of greater access to cheap consumer goods, or maybe it has always been a problem and I am just more aware of it because I am older.  After all, I remember 30 years ago when my grandmother died, we hauled off what seemed like hundreds of boxes of Jello she had “collected.”   She had examples of every packaging design from the 1970s and 1980s in her collection.   It is hard to let go.  After all we might need those things we have never needed.   Those ties might come back in style.  Those broken appliances and toys could one day be fixed.   We might find the device that fits that old power adapter.   And, of course, some of the things we can’t let go remind us of times and friends we have had to let go.   So, we live cluttered lives.

Of course, we know all about Marie Kondo’s books and the FlyLady’s website.  We have been exposed to countless books on decluttering and websites that give us the technical expertise to become masters in the art of decluttering.  Yet the problem is not one of technique, but of will.   How willing are we to let go?   Issues of the heart are always the heart of the issue.   Consider how this is true of the greatest and most perilous clutter that we tend to collect — unforgiveness.   Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian gospel and the Christian life, but many Christians’ lives are cluttered with unforgiveness.  Like a hoarder’s house, so full of junk that it has become little more than a maze, many lives are so full of bitterness that there is no room of joy, love, peace or normal living.   The biblical words for forgiveness derive their meaning from the idea of letting go.  Letting go of the debts of others, letting go of the sins of others, and letting go of the hurts others have inflicted.   Like our clutter, we want it gone, but don’t want to let it go.

Yet the heart of the gospel is forgiveness and the one whose life is changed by the gospel is called to live a life of forgiveness.   We all know this, but we struggle with the implications.   In the book of Genesis, Joseph had a lot of reasons to be bitter and to store up resentments against his brothers, yet the Lord led him on a long journey of faith and forgiveness that allowed him to let go of the spiritual clutter that might have robbed him of life.   Join us this Lord’s Day, June 24, as we examine Genesis 45 and consider from the life of Joseph what it means to express and experience forgiveness.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Wounds That Heal

Hypochondriacs come in two varieties.  The first variety is so certain that something is deadly wrong that he continually shuttles back and forth to the doctor armed with a detailed litany of possible symptoms and probable diagnoses.  This type of hypochondriac consumes Dr. Koop’s Self-Care Advisor: The Essential Home Health Guide for You and Your Family and has dog-eared every page.   But the second variety of hypochondriac is quite the opposite.  Certain that something is deadly wrong, he copes through denial.  The last thing he wants is for a doctor to confirm what he knows is already true – that the worst possible diagnosis lurks just beneath the veneer of good health and common symptoms.  This type of hypochondriac fears diagnosis and treatment more than sickness and death.   He is more comfortable with his perceived sickness than with the prospect or process of healing and health.  For he knows that the physician must wound in order to heal.

For whether the sickness is unsoundness of body or mind, the physician must often wound in order to heal.  To access a sickness, a cancer, an or an infection, surgeons and wound care specialists must painfully penetrate the surface that seems sound in order to address the issues that lie buried in tissue and obscurity.  Both to diagnose and to treat, quite often the healer must first make a wound.   This is true of the Great Physician as well.  He wields the scalpel of His living and active word, “piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:13)  He must make deep cuts to lay bear the diseased areas of our lives.  Not for our destruction, but for our healing.   The OT prophet says it so poignantly,

Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up,  that we may live before him.  Hosea 6:1-2

But the irony is that the deepest wounds made for our healing, were made to another entirely.  For we read of Jesus in another OT prophet,

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:4-5

God wounds to heal.   We can see this in the life of Jacob and his sons.  Jacob refused all comfort over the loss of Joseph and resolved never to lay aside the mourner’s clothes.  Meanwhile his sons buried, deep in their souls, guilt and sin against their brother and their father.  They seemed irredeemably enslaved in the grip of a decades-old sin and its consequences.  Yet God wounds to heal. His living and active scalpel is sharp and uncovers the disease of sin, slowly calcifying their hearts.  He lays bare their terminal condition in order to transplant their stony hearts with hearts of flesh.   What grief or sin have your buried deep in your soul, refusing to be comforted and refusing the conviction of God’s Word and Spirit?  God has not forgotten it neither have you.

Join us this Lord’s Day, May 20, as we as we examine the continuing story of Jacob as his sons as God brings them to crisis and conviction in order to bring healing and forgiveness. As we consider their story we will also see the character of this God who wounds us to heal us.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.