Two nights ago, I sat among giants.
Five people, each of them, had come face-to-face with a conflict between their consciences and the system of power that held the keys to their salary and advancement. And they each chose to follow their nudging consciences growing deep within them. For three of them, it was a recent experience.
And it cost them—relationships with “friends” and family, reputation, salary, and immediate fulfillment of their ministry aspirations. They were threatened by people they had previously admired, ambushed by those who could easily use deceit as a weapon, and rejected by those who had previously affirmed them.
Their choices led to dark days of pain and agony. Falsely accused and isolated, they second-guessed their consciences and questioned the God who had not intervened on their behalf against those acting in unGodly ways.
But in those long days of darkness, their hearts grew. They began to see the difference between human power and God’s authority. They came to see the full fury of a religious system more obsessed with power than truth and healing, even for their own people.
When they saw through the illusion of power and how far it would take them off course from the passion they held for Jesus and his people, they discovered that grief and disappointment can lead them into a rich vein of God’s wisdom and that enduring the affliction of others would only increase their compassion for the broken and wounded.
Some were still in the throes of that process, but I was touched by each person’s heart and honored to hold their stories and honor their choices. Two were black men who expressed the added pain and exploitation of the racial realities behind the choices of white leaders who had exalted them and then turned on them. One was a woman with little power to resist the manipulations of the men who decided her fate. Their added powerlessness multiplied their pain and negated their attempts to be treated graciously.
And yet, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of their desire to choose authenticity over expedience and truth over comfort.
I heard the exact words reverberating in my mind that Jesus spoke to the disciples one afternoon in Matthew 13, “To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom. . . . ” Others would have to content themselves with parables they didn’t understand because they choose the illusions of reputation and power over the pathway that leads to life.
I’ve been honored to meet many such people throughout the last thirty years of my journey. Each time, I’m reminded of Jesus’s words,
Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.
I know it doesn’t feel like joy, which I suppose is why he said, “Count yourselves blessed.” At the time, it doesn’t feel like a blessing. However, being lied about, insulted, or excluded by those you love is not the end of your journey; it’s the trailhead into a journey for which your heart has truly hungered.
Follow your conscience beyond the wall of illusion, and you will find the rich, fulfilling reward of a life well-lived that will be worth whatever price you had to pay to get there.
And all of heaven applauds.
9 thoughts on “The Gift of Sight in the Valley of Pain”
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Joy and sorrow intertwined.
This brings me to tears because this is my experience. I still grieve the friends lost. Still ache for the owner that doesn’t understand grace.
It has been more then four years.
Joyful, amazing, loving years. Right now I’m sitting next to one of my colleagues son’s their youngest had to be hospitalized and my wife and I got to help out. Family on a mission. This is not “business as usual” but it the extraordinary life and love we are called to live.
Good on you for choosing the “better portion.” I’m saddest for those who have chosen expedience over conscience, for their road is far harder and not blessed with the grace and provision you have experienced. I’m sorry for the pain, of course. No one loves that. But I’m glad you’ve found joy beyond it.
Proud of you.
Well said – right on!
Yes and amen Wayne! We went through a similar process a number of years ago. My first reaction was disbelief. How could those I’d admired and respected so long be wrong? We went through a valley as a person in leadership compared us to King Saul and we left under a curse. God, in his faithfulness brought us through that time but the memory still stirs up anger, not against the individual but against the system that molded them.
I’m so sorry for what you went through, Christine. If it’s any consolation, you stand in a long line of people who chose faithfulness to Jesus over loyalty to man. I pray God continues to heal the anger, even against the system. Being dis-illusioned is a gift all its own. Blessings and love!
So real and so timely! Thank you.
We have just discovered that we have been labelled as a, “Break away’ movement from our local church. All kinds of accusations and pressure. All unfounded. However, I am not responsible for the very ungodly stuff going on there, so we left as gently and as quietly as possible.
There is a small group regularly meeting on our home (We have come full circle!) who are growing in faith, hungry for the things of God, loving and supporting one another and content to just ‘be’! No rotas to fill. No money being extorted. No egos to placate. Just real. As we were back in 2004/5 (ish!) when you came to Wimborne/Corfe Mullen and you spent some very precious hours with us. Thank you for that. You knew we wouldn’t survive long in an institutionalised ‘church’. Oh, to be free to follow the daily, hourly nudgings of the Holy Spirit! JOY!
Love this and the grace God is giving you. Wow! When I was last in Wimbourne… That was a while ago. Such great memories, though.
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