“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:4
Every family, I believe, has its own passed-on burdens of unregenerate weaknesses. In my family, there is a tendency to “shoot from the lip” and let the pieces fall where they may. Or, as Stephen Covey of the “Seven Habits”would put it, the tendency to be reactive rather than proactive. If I were to assess the amount of damage (direct and collateral) that I have left strewn about in my past, I daresay I would crawl into the nearest hole, as my mother occasionally threatened to do herself, and pull the hole in after me. This is a very public offense, and I know that God is working on it, and I am learning – slowly – but, nevertheless, learning.
More damage, though, is done by getting angry, and trying to put a cork in it and ignore it. A person can go on for many years, seemingly functioning well, stuffing anger down, and pretending everything is all right. Sooner or later, however, the corks will blow. The only question is if they pop one at a time, or all at once. This is one of the things that God has been particularly attending to in my life in this sabbatical year (which, oddly enough, is beginning to resemble more of a jubilee year as we go on).
Last night we had a special church service. I would call it a revival service, but the format was quite unlike what I have come to expect at revivals down through the years. Our church is a member of the Anglican Mission in America, and our “up line” is in Rwanda Province. The speakers were one of our Rwandan bishops, Augustine, and his wife, Claudine.
Augustine spoke clearly of what Jesus means to him, and talked about how for many years he had a grudge against the clergy due to an incident when he was younger. He talked of giving that burden of forgiveness up, and being forgiven, and how God called him to the ministry after the genocide in Rwanda. He spoke of how he lost his first wife to a brain tumor, and left him with two little boys.
Then, he called Claudine up front. Claudine’s first husband was brutally murdered in the genocide, and her three daughters were angry, and rebellious. She was angry for a long time, and suffered from headaches, and other physical symptoms. Then she learned that Jesus had already borne the burden of her grief, and was able to let go of her anger.
Bishop Augustine, and Claudine, already with five children, took in more to raise who were orphaned as a result of the genocide, and God blessed them with two more of their own.
The message was from Isaiah 53, and Augustine exhorted us to forgive as Jesus has forgiven. He and Claudine radiate the love, and peace of God. They have resisted even through bloodshed.