Tuesday, November 05, 2013
My Heart Check-Up Results
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." ... 1 John 4:8
I used to never watch true crime shows because hey! This world is scary enough so who needs to see the gory details play out on tv? "Anyone who enjoys that stuff must be a sadist or degenerate. Or something," I'd think. (Tsk, tsk... assumptions!)
Yet months ago I discovered the Investigation Discovery shows by way of Netflix (Solved, Homicide Hunter, Stolen Voices: Buried Secrets, Disappeared, etc.) and instantly felt like God had plopped me down into a classroom. The subject taught in there? Compassion.
The end credits would roll on these shows and I'd find myself praying for the friends and families of those murdered/or missing, praying they'd find the healing only God can bring in such horrific circumstances. And I felt God saying, "Yes, that's good to pray for them."
Yet over the weeks, I felt Him nudging me to go deeper--now I needed to add the criminals to my prayers(!) It's like God wanted me to peer beneath the surface of their terrible acts and see the innocent babies they'd once been: sweet children set in all sorts of families--good, mediocre or dysfunctional.
And then He'd 'play filmstrips' (kinda) inside my head of all that can go wrong for innocent children--dreadful abuse and unfairness and bullying, often where humans have a vital need to feel safe: at home. And then how, reaching the age of decision, teens can make such tragic choices, choosing drugs, wrong soul mates, alcohol, crimes against others--all searches in wrong places for the belonging, approval and love which only God knows how to bring.
And eventually at the end of these shows, I found myself praying for the criminals, as well.
It's too easy to hate the cruel people out there. Anyone can do that. Anyone who's never even come close to knowing God can hate the President and politicians and abortionists. And school and mall shooters. And neighborhood screamers, abusers, bigots, unfair bosses, and unforgiving relatives.
Anyone can wish others dead and feel justified in doing so.
But I believe God desires to lead us to deeper, harder places outside of ourselves, even, where He infuses the very love required for Him to send Jesus to die for every criminal throughout all History. Love, the greatest thing, greater even than faith and hope. The thing that enables us to get inside others and view Life as they see it, the thing God wants to hear spring to our lips as prayers, rather than curses of condemnation.
Love. The thing which is God.
There's a whole lot of forgiveness involved in being able to truly love others.
"If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever." ... 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Am I recommending true crime shows? Nah. Not unless you're given grace to watch them--and how do you tell? If you're watching and praying for the folks, most likely God's giving you grace to watch. But if you're sitting there, scared, and in need of prayer, yourself, well, perhaps Grace isn't sitting there with you. :)