By Erin Wikle, Soldier
I often hear: “I come from a broken family. I’ve really been through a lot.”
This statement usually precedes a barrage of information as a broken person pours out a tale of sexual abuse, neglect at an early age, and sordid stories of hardcore and even prescription drug abuse. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this. If it weren’t for Jesus, I’d say this was a textbook tale straight from a textbook loser.
Praise God for Jesus.
It’s surprising (even to me) that I take comfort in the sameness of the stories I hear. I’m reminded that it’s the enemy who’s the real loser, and that in all his existence, he’s still workin’ the same angle, stirrin’ up the same trouble, and up to the same no good. He’s predictable and doesn’t have a single creative bone in his spineless body.
Frequently, over an awkward meal in our small dining room at our even smaller dining table, someone recounts to us, with great humility, the missteps of their life. It’s a beautiful thing. Messy and with much detail, but beautiful nonetheless.
And just below the surface of the deep, I see something even more beautiful than the honesty and humility that seep from the story: expectation.
Here’s what I appreciate about living, worshipping and loving on those with less than $5 in their bank account on any given day, who quit Oxycontin but not yet cigarettes, and who don’t fear rejection because it’s all they’ve ever known: they’re needy—and they know it.
Tina, four months pregnant with her third child, said no to cocaine because she realized no matter how much she shot up, she still felt useless and unloved. She admitted to her need for something more.
Richard, 25, broke the cycle of manipulation and sexual compulsion because he realized no matter how many women he slept with, he still felt empty and alone. He cried out for something more.
Maria, sexually abused by her step-dad and driven to drug use at a painfully early age, was rescued by Salvation Army leaders who chose to live among people just like her. She dropped her guard and realized her need for something more.
You see, I don’t believe hitting rock bottom is a requisite to having an amazing, legitimately life-changing encounter with God. I believe those who do hit rock bottom (whether by choice or because they were chosen) are perfectly positioned to experience Jesus. What better position than face down, at the feet of your Savior.
While I weep for the deeply wounded, addicted and broken with whom I share little in common, I also weep over the many friends of mine with whom I share everything in common: a well-paying, steady job, good children who are well kept and excel in their age group, good, decent husbands who work hard and treat their families well, and a nice home filled with delicious smells and teeming with all the necessities for any well-to-do modern, American family. We “middle-classers” don’t see our need for more because we need nothing more. I weep because I see so many who “have it all” yet still have nothing. I weep for those who once chose Jesus, but soon after chose their mortgages, families, careers and even churches instead.
I want more compassion. I want more patience. I want more love for those who I find slightly harder to love. I want nothing of the world and the promise for something greater. I want more of Christ because he is greater. I want to share closeness with my Lord more intimate than the love I share with my husband. I want security in Jesus over security from my savings account.
God sees the same mess in my spirit as he did in Tina, Richard and Maria. He sees no separation between those with “stability” in the world’s eyes and those without. Instead, he sees a deep need in each of us for life more abundant. Expect more of Christ; his kingdom is yours.
Read Matthew 5.
To learn how you can support the ministry of The Salvation Army in Lebanon, Tenn.—OneLife—contact Chris and Erin Wikle at firstname.lastname@example.org.