There have been a few times this week that I have wept. Often when we were in a village working with the residents of this beautiful country. But not exclusively. I have been puzzling over this, trying to figure out what has moved me here. It’s not the poverty. I can find similar poverty easily within an hour of our home in North East, Pennsylvania. It’s not hopelessness, because the people here are not living as if they are hopeless. It’s not even sadness, because I suspect if I could ask them if they are sad about their lives, they would be at worst indignant that I would presume to think thus, or at best they would say, “Life is life. What can one do about the life one lives? One would as well be sad because the sky is blue.”
Did you ever get an impossible knot in your shoelace? When that happens to me it’s usually when I’m in a hurry, and definitely it’s usually inconvenient. The thing is, you can’t hurry a knot like that; tug on one loop here, or twist the knot there and have it simply and easily come unraveled. Like it or no, a knot such as that takes time and patience to undo. Rushing will not solve the problem, it will only make the knot worse.
For years my heart has been bound up like that, twisted, snarled in the worst rat’s nest of a knot that one could imagine. It’s not that I was running from God exactly, quite the contrary.
One of the things that Jim McDonald said during our morning devotional is , “If success is important to you, you may be tempted to choose accomplishment over your relationship with God.” I haven’t sought wealth or prestige, but I have sought success in other ways. I have tried to be a Godly man. I have tried to be a good son, a good husband, a good father. I have worked hard to be an excellent policeman, detective, and now a Chief of Police. None of these are bad things, but when things didn’t go as planned, when setbacks happened, I have seen myself as a failure, and that is, I think, a natural outcome of having a success mindset. I have worked so hard to “succeed” at the Christian life, and have “failed” so often that my heart had twisted into a knot that was impossible for me to unravel.
I have felt something this week I haven’t felt in quite a while, perhaps years. Compassion. God’s compassion for people. Not trying to do something, not trying to succeed, just being open to God using me as He would for people that He loves.
And that, I think, is why I have been weeping. God has used this week to slowly, patiently, unravel that knot in my chest that until yesterday I didn’t even know was there. I doubt it is completely undone, and it will be very interesting to see how this will translate when Beth and I return to the ‘States. But I don’t want success, even success in the Christian life, to be my motivation. I just want to be in relationship with God. Fully, absolutely, completely hand in hand with Him who wants my heart more than my accomplishments.