Outcasts. Who loves the unlovely in our world? Or, more specifically, in the church, the Body of Christ? Who decides which of us belongs in the box called “untouchables”? I am in that box many times, but God did not put me there. Many times, others place me there. Sometimes, I consign myself to that cell. It’s a difficult label to dislodge, no matter where it comes from.
I grew up without the root system most successful people fall back on for their confidence and strength to carry on. I was someone whose feeble underpinnings broke, sending me wheeling wherever others decided I should go. The result? Very little productive activity that could be appreciated. A tumbleweed.
When I find myself in that position, I have to ask who decides who and what I am, and what to do with what I find there. People are unreliable sources. Anything from this world is undependable. And what if I find that I Am only fit for the compost pile? A friend of mine wrote a poem about that very thing, concluding that the compost pile was the perfect place for growing things!
This isn’t about being a victim or wallowing in self-pity. This is about realizing that it is possible to tell the truth about what happened, and that God makes transcendence possible, built on the hope He gives. Remember that faith is hope in what is unseen, unproven, as yet unrealized.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1
He does not suggest that we take on a “Pollyanna” view of life where everything is always rosy. Yet, neither does He demand that we live some sort of bootstrap operation, progressing by self-effort, travailing in dogged determination. He doesn’t demand we fight our own battles.
“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf.” ~ II Chronicles 20: 15b, 17a
Jesus invites us into His healing presence, allowing the Holy Spirit to minister renewal, reshaping, and redirecting. He draws us onto the Father’s lap to know Him as Abba, our true Father, the One who makes transcendence of our past, our circumstances, our brokenness possible.
When I focus on who God is and the re-creating He does in my life, I remember His special gifts to me that make me rejoice. My favorite birdsong is the Deep Wood Thrush. Whenever I hear its song, Holy Spirit’s peace descends on my heart. He tells me that whatever/whoever I was before, He is breathing life into my soul, and that His works through me will carry His message, His healing, His very Being to others held captive in that outcast box.
Jesus commanded us to love the unlovely, to forgive the unforgiveable, to minister to the hopeless, just as He loves and ministers to us. We are all in the same boat, undeserving of God’s love and forgiveness. The transformation we experience reaches out to the tumbleweeds of this world through our expression of the love and acceptance of the Father. Step out of your comfort zone to touch another with ravaged eyes, looking out from a lonely soul so their birdsong might burst forth in worship for the light of His transcendent Healing Presence.
~ Denise Chambellan-Ackerman