Sweeney Todd is a movie. I never really understood it, but it had some great lines. At one point, in bizarre conjecture, Johnny Depp sings to his Mrs. “What is that sound of crunching I hear? Why, it is the sound of man eating man, my dear… and who are we to deny it in here?” With that, he enterprises to begin making grand profit selling English meat pies of questionable content.
The world is a fallen place. While we are grateful for the generous daily mercies of our heavenly Father, any person doing business in the world today knows that there is a lot of man-eating-man going on out there. In fact, the whole enterprise of business is eating people alive today, right in the streets of Marion County! How do we respond to that? How do we process the world’s treatment of us, particularly when we don’t get what we want? How do we face the circumstances of our lives being turned upside down?
We’d like to answer that differently than the outward reality many of us experience; i.e. I hurt the people around me when I don’t get what I want! I kick, or scream, or guzzle Diet Cokes… or any other such response of a habit of self protection. We’d like to respond a little more wisely.
Let’s look at ourselves and the inscribed memory of hurt.
We respond to our life experiences based on the assumptions of our memory. Memory works to define our self perception by giving us a sense of our identity, our community, our future, and even our God. We sing, because raising our voices invites us to affirm, in the community, in which we belong, the truth that our heart believes. When you sing, you raise your heart. When you don’t sing, you don’t affirm or engage your belief… It has nothing to do with hitting the right note!
When you beat me, I will fall, and then I’ll hear a mental tune, “My faith has found a resting place, not in device nor creed. I trust the ever living One; His wounds for me doth plead. I need no other argument; I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me.”
“Remembering” means that we must be careful to challenge the honesty of our memory. How have I shaded the very mental pictures and emotions of what has formed my basis for living? Remembering redemptively means that I wash the memory of my assumptions in the stories of the High King to whom I belong. Remembering that Jesus died for me includes remembering that I stand guilty before him. In Romans 5, Paul speaks of the reconciliation that has been purchased in Christ. Not only am I welcome there, but my enemies are welcome there. Not merely enemies who won’t give me insurance coverage for the TV that belongs in my truck, but enemies that formed my childhood.
Maybe your childhood was splendid. Maybe you don’t have a specific “hurt.” God has allowed the world to bring stress in your life. It has formed you and you are fooling yourself if you deny it.
God is willing to use the circumstances of your life to bring you to the end of your assumptions. He is kind enough to be at times radically unkind!
Exodus 13 tells the story of the people grumbling as they followed Moses into the wilderness. They had no food. They grumble by saying, “We had food in Egypt – all we wanted!” They didn’t. “You have led us into the desert to die.” He didn’t.
When you grumble against your circumstance – you grumble against God. Moses responds, “Who are we?” He clearly tells the people and us, when you complain against the circumstance of your life you are forgetting God has formed your days from before you were born!
God knitted you in your mother’s womb and he knows your days from beginning to end. Every day He knows right where you are. When you grumble, you grumble against Him.
When you are not honest in your remembering, you forget that He desires good for your enemies.
If you don’t forgive you cannot be forgiven. Forgiveness in America means I didn’t hit them back. Forgiveness at the foot of the cross means I love my enemies, even in my memory, like my King loves them… I desire good to come to them!
I pray God’s peace for you today, as you walk with me in the field of your hurtful memories. Some of you need to start by saying in all humility… “God, I hate my mother… God, I hate my Father…” Some need to say, “God I hate this economy.” I’d love to hear how this comes to life in your existence.