Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...


The Hero

I had an interesting conversation with one of the kids in the youth group yesterday. I'd caught the bus from work to church yesterday morning, and I saw him when I got there about an hour before we were scheduled to start our Sunday School classes. I'll call him "X" for the purposes of this blog :)

We started to talk, and for some reason, I asked X if he'd ever felt like he wasn't growing, or if perhaps he'd ever felt frustrated and angry with himself or with God. He said he did, and in fact last night he'd been lying in bed, crying himself to sleep. I told him that our lives can sometimes be like knowing rats are in a room. At first, the room is dark, and although the room is completely filled with rats, you don't see the extent of the infestation. As light enters in, many of the rats are driven away, and you begin to see the critters. As the light becomes brighter, all but the most stubborn rats leave the room, and yet you notice those far more than the ones that have already left.

After that, I asked X what James 5:16 said. Being the studious type who just happens to be gifted with a photographic memory, he quoted it perfectly: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." I told him it's interesting that quite often, that verse is split into two parts, the first and second sentences. To my mind, however, there's a definite correlation between having two such statements right next to each other. I then related the story of Richard Foster's encounter with a man who had come to pray for him. This was a man whom he'd never met, yet upon meeting Foster, began not to pray, but to confess sin. A stunning thing to imagine! A complete stranger confessing his sin...strange, very strange, yet this man did just that with Richard Foster! Upon finishing his confession, the man asked Foster if he still wanted prayer. Saying he did, the man began to pray for him, and it was a prayer that he never forgot; indeed, it was a prayer filled with power, and its rippled to affect many lives, my own included. So, how did this story tie in with verse from James? To my thinking, although we as Christians are justified before God, our prayers are ineffective unless we've confessed our sins before Him. That's a truth that's touched upon many times, but I think when we quote that verse, we unintentionally sever the truth. There's no taking the two parts of James 5:16 apart :)

At that point, X had a rather shocked look on his face. Why, I wasn't sure, but he seemed to be listening with more than just his ears at that point, if you know what I mean. I then told X of the converstion with Jonathan that I'd had a while back (it's blogged on October 9th) on God honoring us. I asked X two things: why would God honor us at all when we cry out to him in prayer, and how is that related to the story of the prodigal son. I then told him about my desire to go home, even if for but an hour, that I might see friends and family. I related how Jonathan asked me the million dollar question: "Wouldn't their response to seeing you be *honoring* to you?"

I had no idea why I told X all of this, or how any of it really tied together. In all honesty, my brain seemed to jump from one topic to the next. He later asked me if I'd known he'd been struggling with depression. I did, but that wasn't why our conversation went the way it did. He claimed I had this "Yoda" thing going seemed to be a compliment, so I'll take it as that :) But you know what? I'd just gotten off a 10 hour shift at work, and my brain only had so much energy, so no matter how full of wisdom I'd like to think I am, I'm not so sure it really was me doing the talking.

Still, what I do know is this: if any good came of our conversation (and I'm more than certain that it did), I'm blessed that God chose to gift me and use me in such ways, but not for the reason I first thought. Last night, as I thought about that conversation with X, I was sorely tempted to rejoice in the ways that God's gifted me. But still, that'd be wrong. At least, it would be wrong if that were the main reason I rejoiced. A couple of weeks ago, I taught the middle schoolers in Sunday School that the hero in the stories of Genesis (and all of scripture, for that matter) is not any human such as Abraham or Joseph or Hagar, but *God Himself*. God reminded me of that last night. The hero in the conversation between myself and X was not me, nor was it X, but God. For that reason and for that reason alone should I rejoice. Anything else would be but a tiny pleasure in comparison.

One last thing. Before everyone else came in the room, I told X one more thing...a benediction of sorts, if you will. I said that we can almost never change our circumstances; we can only change our response to them. I think it'd be good for me to remember that every now and again...

Oh, and pray for me. A map quiz tonight, another quiz in the morning, and two mid-terms tomorrow afternoon. You know what, though? I love the academic side of's the application of it that I get bad grades on ;)

posted by Bolo | 1:45 PM
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