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The End of Your Rope

Do you ever feel like you're at the end of your rope?
When you've done all you can... taken all of the punishment... you feel misunderstood, abused, hurt? Have you invested all you can invest in people and they seem to not even notice? Have you been to the place where you've prayed all you can pray, confessed every sin, remained as humble as you can.... and just feel that you can't do another thing?


We all get to that place from time to time.
I don't care if you're a mega church rock-star Pastor or a retired rural layman. We all feel spent from time to time. We all experience those times when we come to the end of ourselves.

In today's American wealthy version of Christianity we try to emulate this by attempting grand dreams that will only work if "God is in it". We call that faith. We call that being at the end of ourselves. While I do not disagree that coming to the end of ourselves in the greatness of our dreams is God-honoring, the end I speak of cannot be emulated by trying to start new projects.

Most of humanity comes to the end of their rope trying to keep things alive.
Trying to keep that son or daughter alive and away from promiscuity or drugs. The wife trying to keep the marriage alive when it seems the husband has quit. The father trying to keep the family alive by providing food on the plate in spite of a recent job loss. The Pastors trying to keep the church alive by warning people not to make poor decisions made in emotion which lead to the same devastation that has haunted those who wandered from Jesus in the midst of their hardship. Keeping things alive in our own power provides an incredible sense of being at the end of one's rope.


Coming to the end of our rope is often seen as failure. We often view hardship in terms of the Olympics or an athletic contest. This language has so plagued our collective spiritual minds that we call difficulty a "closed door" and ease an "open door". I often wonder if Paul thought his knowledge of impending torture and persecution in each city was considered an "open door". I recently heard of some missionary friends who are now (as I write this) sitting on a military base awaiting transport out of Africa to France... I wonder if they consider this a "closed door". Somehow I doubt it.

We are quick to place a pejorative label on adversity. We're quick to throw in the towel if the odds seem stacked against us. When we do so we are such weak people unworthy of the label "Christian". We avoid hardship like the plague. We run and hide. We fear instead of fight. We see ourselves as grasshoppers in the face of adversity.

This cancer of distortion does not only affect how we view ourselves, this plague has affected our view of those who need hope most.

Much like the religious leaders in the story of the Samaritan we come up with reasons not to involve ourselves in the troubles of others. Whether we admit it or not we believe suffering is an abstract concept that should be reserved for the 'Feed the Children' commercials at 2am. Suffering has no honorable place among those of us 'advanced' in Christ in the West.

In a recent conversation I had at a coffee shop with a local Pastor my heart broke when he spoke of poverty in terms that nearly broke my soul in two. He asked if I heard that gangs were moving into the suburbs of cities and now terrorizing more affluent communities. What he said next hurt. He said "I wish they would stay in their own neighborhoods and leave the rest of us alone."

Most of us won't be transparent enough to say these things but most of us are guilty of avoiding suffering like the plague.

Suffering is Spiritual. Suffering is Sacred.

There is a place for you at the table when you are broken or when you're trying to keep something alive in spite of all adversity.

I want to offer up another view of the end of your rope. There is actually a theologically sound understanding of that rope which says that at the end of the rope is not failure or doom... but God.

It's at the end of your rope where God waits with his hands palm-up ready to catch you.

Paul didn't say that he only wanted to share in the "Victory in Jesus" (remember that tune?)... he wanted to also share in the "Sufferings in Jesus". That is spiritual maturity. Find the Savior in the suffering.

Based on what I've heard from the Christian music industry over the last year I'd say it's time for some new "Christian Music" to come out.... how about a song centered around Philippians 3:10. "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,"

We often avoid the sufferings. Remember the religious leaders in the Samaritan story? Remember my bible toting Pastor friend at the coffee shop? Remember the idea of a "closed door"? We often cannot see a window of opportunity at the end of our rope...only doom. Hope is not often found at the end of our rope... yet there... in the distance... at the end of our rope... is Jesus.

The leper was at the end of his rope right before he received healing from Jesus. (Mk 1:40-42)

The friends of the sick man were at the end of their rope when they used that rope to lower him through the roof to reach Jesus. (Mk 2:1-5,11)

A man named Jairus was at the end of his rope when he came to Jesus asking for his daughter's healing and upon hearing about the death of his daughter still trusted Jesus and had faith. His daughter was said to be dead... he was at the end of his rope. (Mk 5: 22-24,35-43)

The woman who had the issue of blood was at the end of her rope when she reached out in a crowd to simply touch the garments of Jesus believing that he was her answer. (Mk 5:25-34)

The blind beggar named Bartmaeus was at the end of his rope when in desperation he cried out to Jesus to have mercy on him and give him sight. (Mk 10:46-52)

So if you're at the end of your rope you can trust that you are in good company. It takes you to end so that Jesus can begin. John 3:30 even proclaims that He must become greater and we must become less. While John was talking about his particular ministry I believe it's safe to take that as a personal challenge in Spiritual Maturity.

As you find yourself at the end of the rope and it seems that suffering is your only companion, look over your shoulder because there you will find your Savior... you will find Jesus.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, February 06, 2008

3 Comments:

At 3:34 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Thank you Tally. That was very good and it spoke to my soul & heart. I needed to hear this.

Praise the Lord!
Kimberly

 
At 8:39 AM, Blogger Ashley said...

I read an article last night, that reminds me of this post, it's not a direct relation, but it connected for me.

http://www.soulation.org/library/articles/the_problem_with_christianity.pdf

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Happy Mommy said...

Very well put! Thank you for your insight it's refreshing! Please keep us in your prayers, surgery is Mon the 18th! Talk to you soon.
Happy Mommy

 

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