Friday, February 1, 2013

Life Leeches

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Have you ever seen the classic movie “The African Queen” with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn?  If not, let me recommend you put it on your list of must see movies!!  There’s a scene in the movie where Bogart and Hepburn are stuck in his broken down tramp steamer that has become trapped in the tangled weeds and mire of the Ulanga River.  In a daunting task, he submerges himself up to his shoulders in the muddy canal and literally pulls the boat along by a rope until he gets it to higher waters.  Just as he begins to celebrate their victory with Hepburn, he looks down to discover he’s been covered with leeches hidden in the murky waters.  Horrified, they begin pulling the disgusting, slimy critters from his body before he becomes their bloody lunch!

How many times I have thought of that movie when I find myself overwhelmed by the “dailies” of life… the small, individually insignificant irritations/clamorings for my time, energy and attention.  In and of themselves, these problems can be exhausting yet manageable.  But when you’re weary from the day-to-day battle, especially when there seems no end in sight, these back-to-back in-your-face troubles can toss you from the sure-footing of your own life’s boat into a stagnant and muddy river that threatens to wash over you and swallow you whole as you gasp for breath.  And just when you find your balance long enough to stand up again, you’re covered by what I call “life leeches” – the seemingly innocuous small events that bleed you dry.  It can be anything from a suddenly broken dryer (when, of course, you’ve just put in a full, dripping load of laundry), to an argument with someone, to a bad day at work or school, to a flat tire, or even discovering that your cell phone has lost it’s charge… even something as plain as not getting enough sleep.  Again, it’s not the big events – it’s the never-ending onslaught of these little life leeches that suck the energy, joy and hope right out of you until you’re ready to just call it a day and self-medicate in your own special way to numb the monotonous ache of facing another day… anything to escape.

I have to have faith that Jesus experienced this in His live as a carpenter, even before He began His public ministry.  And then… as He dealt with His ministry, the crowds, the disciples and His enemies, He had to have gone through His own “dailies” that drained Him as well.  I wonder if that was how He felt after being baptized and then spending 40 days in the desert, and then having to face the enemy?  In His humanity, He had to battle fatigue, hunger, discouragement, feeling overwhelmed and unsure of His future.  Surely He must have dealt with the struggle and juggle and attack of these insidious life leeches.

I’m not saying that knowing this makes it easier for me when I’m in the middle of the mess… I’m no saint who smiles brightly and sings Kum Bay Ah when I’m really ready to scream at the top of my lunges and drive off the nearest cliff.  I do yell and cry – and I try to do it with Him in the quietness of my room or in my car (in the garage, not necessarily on the road… although I admit I have found myself close to tearing off the steering wheel sobbing and shouting on a back road once or twice as I ever-so-Christianly “had fellowship and prayer with the Lah-or-Dah (yes, that’s Lord in three syllables).  I cling to the belief that He can handle it, and understands and allows me to come to Him in my imperfection/despair/disappointment/depression o cry and vent and find comfort, without condemnation or disapproval because I’m not some strong and perfect Super-Believer.

I’m also not saying that it makes everything a bed of roses, either.  But it does give me His power, His peace and His courage to face and tackle those bloodsucking life leeches and try again another day. 

So if you find yourself in the same situation, my friend, before you go off the deep end (and I know you may be teetering off the edge right now), come to Jesus.  Be earthy and real and share yourself and your pain honestly and openly.  Dump it all on Him… because He cares for you, and you will find rest and answers with Him.