As I sit down in front of this little netbook tonight, I'm thinking about the phrase, "Play Hurt".
My son Isaac is near-legendary for playing his basketball through an injury. He twisted his ankle in a game last year, and played the whole game. He contracted mono last summer, lost about 15 pounds, and couldn't get his strength back. He kept coming down with flu after flu last winter, and still played his heart out, every game. He played a couple of games with a high fever.
Then, he sprained an ankle in a national tournament this past March...and...you guessed it. He played hurt. And won a game for his team. He recently sprained his other ankle (badly) and has gone back to work (roofing!) before it has had a chance to completely heal. He will be okay - it is good for him to, within reason, learn that life is about "Playing Hurt".
It is particularly true of church life...of life in Christ. Every great man or woman of God has to "play hurt". Church life, as my Preacher said this past Sunday, is not all warm fuzzies. People hurt you. Oh Lawdy-Lawd, do they ever hurt you.
David said, "Let the righteous smite me...it won't kill me." (My paraphrase).
People who whine about being hurt by the church have come to the wrong blog for sympathy. Join the club, my friend.
And play hurt.
You do not have to wait until you are all 'specially healed up and whole to serve God and love His people. You don't have to wait till you feel all better to obey God in the Next Thing, and tend your relationships. You don't have to wait for a feeling to go fix your relationships. You just drag that donkey-butt back to the church you last left, and you forgive and you forge ahead.
This life is war, friend. Spiritual war. The war is out there. I do not care how hurt you have been by your church experience, I am here to tell you, the worst day in His house is better than a thousand good days anywhere else. The devil is out to kill, steal, and destroy...the body of Christ is simply human and fallible.
Please, please lose the notion that the saints are out to get you. There are some mean people, some sorry saints, in every church...but by and large, you are not their first target, you won't be their last, and they don't fall asleep dreaming of ways they can harm you, because you are simply not that important to them, and that is part of the problem. If you were more important to them, they'd be hurting you differently, but they'd still hurt you from time to time.
Let them smite me. When it is all said and done, the proof is exactly this: they will be the ones to leave, and I will still be right here, shot through but still loving The Bride. Me? I play hurt, baby.
I can say this, just now, because I'm in my happy place. No one at all has hurt me lately. No one has left in a wrong way, in fact some have been added...and added back. Church life is good for me, these days.
To get to the good days...the precious stuff...you have to play through the pain.
Play Hurt. Your team is counting on you.