Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Blessed Baptism in Holy Anguish

It was a warm day in my cold worn-out flat,
I had become sick and tired of living all this loss!
What was I where I was, and what was I becoming?
Worse was the pain never far away and the weakness.
Add to this the numbing sense that took over,
Because I could not contemplate or stomach,
That I’d lost everything; everything that mattered.
As I shed my tears in anguish,
Praying as hard as I could,
Knowing God presently,
Yet still immersed in so much pain!
That’s when God did it,
He baptised me in my anguish again.
As I fell into something of a spiritual state,
Realising I was out of body or something,
There and then God spoke to me,
“Son, you’ve just got to obey!”
I miss that time, even though it was a hell I’d not wish on an enemy.
I miss the tears and the heartfelt prayer and the fasting and the long tasks of walking at night. I miss those things that were utterly other the old me; suddenly, having been baptised in my anguish, having been in the state of agony for months, suddenly I was in a place that was both scary and empowering at the same time. It was new – scarily new – but God was there, through my prayer, through my fasting, through my tears and exhaustion, and through those long night walks.
Anguish was the key to everything. It was the springboard that lurched me powerfully into belief, into action, into service, into growth, and finally, into ministry. But unless we keep our anguish kindled we are seduced by a diluted gospel and we begin to miss God.
This is why anguish is good. It is painful but its purposes in us are for good.
The secret to being catapulted out of spiritual slumber – a Christian busyness or apathy – into being set alight for God is anguish. Until we are rent of heart and in deep pain we will never know God, nor his purposes for us in his Kingdom.
If we want true joy and real spiritual power we will engage with God by engaging with our anguish. Our anguish is pivotal to a real experience of God, but we rail against pain and suffering. But the key to being connected with God most intimately is the very thing we hate. Embrace anguish. Cry. Pray. Fast. Be leveled. Be flattened by God. In these times God does not disappoint.
If you are in anguish God has a message for you: “Give your anguish to me, and pray out your agony, and cry your tears over my shoulder, and express all your emotions to me. Then I will be making you new!”
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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