Having a Heart Attack…

If you want to know God ask him for a heart attack.

I’ve only visited Paris once and it was wonderful. Despite the winter in 1975 I wandered the streets for almost a week drinking in the architecture, the ambiance of the famous city, and the bustle of a self-conscious community who knew they were cool. The Eiffel tower provided stunning views. Notre Dame Cathedral is a testimony to those of another era who carved and fashioned buildings stone upon stone with indescribable patience, ingenuity, and creativity. In the Montmartre area below the white-dome basilica – the Sacre Coeur, a student artist in the street sketched my twenty-one year old features in exchange for breakfast. Maybe he’s famous now and I have a valuable work rolled up in the cupboard that will make my children rich when they blow the dust off it, who knows?

I’ll never forget wandering the streets one evening and looking into a restaurant window where a pile of meat was slowly rotating just waiting to be devoured. I would have loved to go in and order a meal but couldn’t afford any luxuries whatsoever on my shoestring budget.

Much later in my life when all was dark inside me, like the streets of portions of Old Jerusalem after sunset, and silent in an unsettled kind of way, I remember looking out at the world. Unlike the Parisian streets there was no desire to venture out, instead my inside ‘place’ was a cave of wounded refuge. Anger festered dripping, eroding my soul. Critical irritability scurried around the darkness like a pack of hungry rats.

I’m not sure what triggered these memories other than the awareness of the multitudes on the outside looking in with longing at what seems unattainable, juxtaposed with ones on the inside looking out with equal helplessness. So many locked out, or trapped inside – and who will set them free, who has the keys?

Jesus is the only one I know who responds to both realities with astounding generosity and a depth of love unparalleled in anyone else. He draws alongside all who appear to be ‘missing out’ on the meat and banquet that is constantly provided for every citizen of his Kingdom. Where others are imprisoned inside he walks through walls and offers to kill the rats and release hope and light into the midst of overwhelming darkness.

Jesus is life! He speaks truth with an open heart out of which flows no condemnation or religious babbling. I could write pages of how he has loved me into increasingly greater freedom while at the same time helping me see how much is still to be conquered. I passionately desire to impact the lives of others to ensure that as few as possible are abandoned in the streets – only seeing God’s love from a distance and not entering in to ‘the more’ he has for everyone, always, all the time. I want to boast of the power of Jesus who broke out of a cave in the resurrection and still walks through walls to set prisoners free from darkness and despair..

I believe that to boast about Jesus and share his supernatural power is our commission and mandate – both personal and corporate. When we would rather not enter into personal relationship rooted in love we default to argue; you know, nit-pick about theology as a mask for our rebellion.

I’ve been involved in some of these ‘discussions’ over the past month and they seldom seem to go anywhere; which is why Jesus’ question to the broken Peter seems more intellectually and emotionally honest. Very simple words with life-changing meaning in the response, “Do you love me?” Of course Peter could only blubber “Yes!” because he was experiencing unconditional love right there and then….. his mind couldn’t handle it and his heart couldn’t resist. When we allow ourselves to be in that paradixocal place the walls will come tumbling down like you wouldn’t believe. Now there’s a heart attack! You can have one too…..:-)

The harvest is abundant, the laborers are few…. I’m praying this summer for many to descend from the bleachers and get involved in harvesting on a consistent basis. Many hands make light shine… Jesus alive inside and out. Here I am Lord, free me, use me , break open my heart – TODAY!

John Cox

Offering Pastoral Counselling to encourage, heal, transform, and give hope.

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