Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 9/15/09

“And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 28:31

Imagine for a moment…

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that it was you…

In the depth of a dark, hidden place, it was you. You see the walls around you, they’re filled with the dank must that fills your lungs, its heavy, clinging to the back of your throat, as you cough. Yet all it sounds like is a whimper in your ears. Despair, pain, sorrow, loneliness, they’re your only companions as you lay there clinging to the fading memories of your home and your family. Soon you know they will be nothing more than a distant thought, and you’ll wonder if it was all perhaps just a dream, that life you had, that love you knew… a dream from which you will always awaken to the cold, harsh realities of your existence.

You hear the steps echoing… long steps moving closer and closer, and your mind beginnings to play tricks on you. In the echo you can almost hear an army coming. Hope, despite everything you know, everything you’ve come to know, trickles in for but a moment as you wonder if finally they have come to rescue you. But as the grim certainity of what’s happened to you settles in, that hope quickly passes as all that’s left is perhaps the hope that death will finally come to rescue you.

Close your eyes and imagine that that is your life… the only life you have come to know amidst your agony and your anguish, as you cry out wishing for some release, for some escape… for any escape…

Imagine for a moment…

Once your life was filled with happiness and joy, with the love of your friends and your family and everything just felt so hopeful. Now though… now it’s just a misty haze in your mind. You’re lost in a tunnel and the end seems to get further and further from you. It almost feels as if you can look down at your body as a spirit, as your soul hovers above it, yet you don’t recognize who that person is anymore. The drugs they feed you, they shove down your throat, it poisons you, killing you off bit by bit until your nothing more than a walking, breathing corpse.

Your body is used, your innocence is ripped away from you and yet you don’t even notice anymore, your hollow frame has become as if nothing more than an empty vessel from which all life is drained from. Soon, you’ll be used until you can’t be used anymore, and when that happens you’ll be cast aside, your body broken, any life left within you drained. Still, there is a part of you, an ever shrinking corner, that’s still alive, and it still hopes there will come a day when this torment, when this agony will finally pass. Though you don’t know how you’d live your life again, you just hope for some shred of dignity… some shred of dignity regained as it all seems to be robbed from you…

Close your eyes and imagine that is your life… a life not of your choosing but one dealt to you by those who would show hatred, using pain and suffering as their weapon to subjugate as they hold life to be contemptuous.

We can’t imagine… we can’t even come close to imagining anything close to the suffering and the sorrow, the anguish and the agony, the desperation and the despair felt by the prisoners and the hostages, the slaves and the captives, ripped from their lives. We can’t imagine crying their cries or feeling their sting. For those of us fortunate enough to live our world in this sheltered protection we now find ourselves in we can’t even imagine.

Yet we should strive to, and, amidst the distress and the misery that can be afflicted in this world so prone to chaos we should forever try to put ourselves in their place, in their position that, even in our own small way we may know what they are going through that it will call us to a greater love and a greater devotion to them.

In our text today we read that we are to love our neighbors as our ourselves, that aside from loving the Lord our God with all of our heart and all of our might, all of our soul and all of our strength, this is the second greatest commandment. Yet how can we show that love if we do not even try to put ourselves in their place, if we just let them become a distant thought in our minds that we do not even try to relate to or understand? Perhaps we shall not ever fully know what they go through, being unable to even imagine, a blessing in the lives of all of those who are able to cling to their innocence and their humanity in a world of evil because of the sacrifices of so many to keep us safe and guarded; yet love, the love we are called to by our Savior, should call us to look to the agony of those held in such dark and vile estate and to look upon their faces as they are, to know what they know, so it can call us to a greater compassion for them.

This then becomes a love… a transformative, encompassing love that calls us to action, to humble ourselves before the Lord and, in lifting up their plight and struggles, their affliction and plight to Him, that asks what we may do for their cause. It’s a love that, like the Good Samaritan, cannot pass by or ignore the suffering and the anguish of those who are left to do nothing more than die because of the greed or the ambition or the hatred of wicked men who rob and beat and murder for their own gain.

Look therefore to the calling of the Lord, lift up your prayers to Him, hearing the lesson of Christ Jesus, who suffered more than any for the cause of our dark captivity that the bondage of sin, death and the devil might finally be broken and we would be ransomed. Love your neighbor as you love yourself, love the captives and the prisoners, the slaves and the hostages so much that you are willing to put yourself in their place to know their suffering that it may call you to a greater service to them. Seek not the safe route or the easy route, putting it all out of your mind that it does not trouble you, but instead try to be more, try to do more, giving all of your strength and might to the Lord for the cause of His beloved children.

Until that time of Christ’s blessed return never believe the work is done, and go to it with dedication, praying for the courage to show all that is needed that even amidst the greatest of challenges in this world you know that God is contending with the plight of the afflicted and the despair of the tormented. Trust in the promises and the assurances of the Lord as you put on the whole armor of God, knowing that He will not fail you or forsake you when you do battle in love for your fellow man, for your brothers and sisters who are so cruelly subjugated and kept in slavery. His justice, His will, it will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and you then shall be used as the vessel of that divine calling in all that you are and all that you do.

So imagine for a moment… close your eyes and imagine for a moment… then open them once more ready to do battle in the greatest of loves against a world set ablaze by chaos and hatred.

Lord, grant this strength and love unto us all.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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