We’ve been talking about community at length these days especially with the release of Islands and also in preparation for our record Cathedrals. Between the band members, between my family and I, and between us and all of you. Many of you have heard us quote James 5 about our song Healing Begins, that if we confess our sins one to another we may be healed. So what if we did confess, but ended up getting awkward silence on the other end? Or what if someone has mustered all the strength they could from the Lord to tell you something and suddenly you got quiet...and stayed quiet? I feel uneasy just thinking about it. Imagine that…
Friend: “Hey Jeff, so I uh, I’ve never told anyone this but I… I uh… I (insert struggle or sin here). Do you still love me?”
Me: “Woah. Um. Thanks for telling me. I’m going to leave this coffee shop now and go cringe now in my car where you can’t see me.”
Awkward, right?! How can we expect to bare our souls to one another if we are not prepared to receive someone else’s?
Man, I have enough trouble of my own. I don’t want someone else’s! I also don’t feel capable of keeping this person accountable. I’m not sure I even want to talk about THAT. So what we do is spare ourselves and others from the awkwardness, or the pain, and just keep it inside because we know exactly how we ourselves would respond.
Who could accept our burden? Who really wants to talk about ________?
My wife Heather and I call it “missing the miracle.” By keeping walls up, we are choosing to dwell in an imaginary house of safety and predictability. The problem is, no miracles can happen there. We huddle in our own little corner; our backs turned to people who the Holy Spirit is working in. We become an Island of isolation. We become the people in Mark 5 who laughed at Jesus and were kicked out of the house before He performed His miracle of reviving the little girl.
That’s where grace enters. With the tender heart of a grandfather, and the gentleness of a mother, grace fills us with compassion for our brother. Grace allows us to dwell in the moment when someone feels safe enough to bare their guilt and shame and moves us to feel and share that moment with them. No longer do we walk away pretending like nothing happened when someone shares their darkness with us. No longer do we secretly hope no one asks us to pray for them. No longer will we say, “I’ll be praying for you” when we want a quick exit from the situation. Only when we allow grace to happen within ourselves can we truly become that place of safety for others; that cathedral.