So, this past weekend was probably the most incredible weekend I’ve had in many moons. I got to see Blake and Fallon perform for the first time in months. I got to have a 3 hour argument with my boss that’s been about 3 years overdue. I got to meet two incredible bands, Threads and Burgundy Road, two sets of guys who are clearly into music and clearly into Jesus Christ. I found a new bar run by an old friend staffed by a bartender who could actually make me smile. I even figured out how to make my iPod behave. Yeah, this weekend was good.
But between the music festival and the mission trip right around the corner and the fun of the bar and the company of good friends, I was weak and tired, stressed and strained when I found myself hanging out at the apartment of some guys involved in the new bonfire. We got to talking and telling stories and just generally reminiscing and they finally offered to show me a powerpoint slide show. I’m not sure that I entirely realized I was going to see a slideshow from Bonfire 99, but I don’t think I would have agreed to watching it if I had.
So I stood there in my new friend’s room, staring at his computer watching the faces of a cherished group of old friends flip past on the screen. Faces of people I haven’t talked to in 6 years. Some of them were faces of people I won’t see again this side of heaven. And I broke.
I collapsed in the corner of their upstairs landing and shook and cried and basically lost all control over anything and everything. I sobbed uncontrollably, mumbled unintelligibly, and fought in vain to stop. Finally I just sat there and rode it out.
When I could finally unclentch my fists and stop crying, I washed my face, went downstairs, offered the guys my apologies and goodbyes, and headed home. I’m pretty sure they just thought I’d had too much to drink and felt like being emotional.
Truth is, I’m responsible for the deaths of 12 of my closest friends, and I’m responsible for the demise of a cherished tradition and teaching tool.
I’ve had a lot of people telling me what I need lately. I need to get a new job. I need to get a girlfriend. I need to get a therapist. I need to get a team of therapists. I need to get a therapist who’s got a team of therapists.
I can tell you what I need. It’s not a job, a woman, or an ear. I need forgiveness. I need grace. I need peace. I need joy. I need rest. I need to breathe.
My wonderful anonymous friends, thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. I apologize if my post made it sound as though I were fishing for such things. My intention was not to say these things I need are things I don’t have, but that instead, just as friend #2 said, I have everything I need in overabundance. I was trying, apparently unsuccessfully, to tell all of you, my wonderful compassionate caring anonymous friends, to not worry about what I need. What I need isn’t of this world. Yes I’m broken, yes I hurt, but I have everything.
I do hope though that everyone understands that just because the events of our lives are a part of God’s plan, we are not exempted from being responsible for our actions. Judas betrayed Christ according to God’s plan, but it was still his choice, his action, his guilt. Make no mistake, forgiveness was offered to Judas as surely as it is offered to me. While Judas chose to walk away from that forgiveness, I hold on to it with all that I am.
But we don’t live in a vacuum. The effect of my actions didn’t end 6 years ago. Those actions continue to affect the lives of people I still meet. And this time when I saw a sliver of the hurt I caused, I broke.
Make no mistake, these effects will glorify our King, and will become a beautiful part of my relationship with these people. But the ugliness of sin doesn’t go away just because I’ve gotten over it or moved on or rationalized it or any of the other nonsense phrases I’ve heard in the last 6 years. It goes away because Christ is so much more beautiful than my sin. The ugliness can’t stand up to his blood.
God, You give us such sweet gifts and promises. You gave Your very own Son that we might not have to have hearts twisted or tainted by guilt. You promise that if we will come to You, and let You, You have grace, rest, and peace for us in abundance, and are more than willing to give it. God, take up my brother in Your hands and hold Him close to Your heart, that he may find and hold Your promises, and that they would seem real and honest and fulfilling to him. Thank You for loving us with such a pure, deep, rich love. For being available to us at every moment. Thank You for my brother, who I love, and thank You for loving him infinitely more than any of us whose hearts are hurting for him now. Meet His needs, Lord, in Your perfect way and time.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
I know that you are a very religious person, but sometimes the heavier the burden we carry the harder it is to go to Christ. There is no way to go back and ask for forgiveness from those who have already died, but you are forgiven in the greatest way imaginable. Where I value the frailty of life, and understand the need to break down and cry, I hope you truly understand that Bonfire falling was in God’s hands and not in your own. Bonfire means a lot to me in it’s own ways but what amazes me most is all of the good that has come from the devastation and loss of those 12. It’s okay to stop and breathe when you need to. In fact, I highly recommend it- just don’t over do it. No need to hyperventilate.