Section 1 was titled "God's "heart" story" and Section 2 was titled "Comparing My "physical" story with God's "Spiritual Story"
Today I'll post the 3rd section of the sermon which describes how hearing "bad news" is necessary before we can recognize (and take advantage of) Good news
Last section ended with the statement
"In both cases (my heart problem and for those who reject God) ignorance is NOT bliss."
Continuing on ...
3rd comparison: But knowledge may not be the answer. I was very aware of the potential for heart problems.
Heart disease (either over time or suddenly) had caused (what I thought was more than my share of) the “painful loss” of those I cared deeply about (and I know that pain was experienced even more directly by several here today) ...
(For readers not present - this turned out to be a very emotional, tearful moment in the lesson as I looked at the faces of those who I knew had experienced these losses -- especially the wife of my friend and fellow elder who had died suddenly in August 2012 and of my sister-in-law who lost her husband (my brother) in August 2011 after a lengthy period of heart disease and the reality of that pain of loss swept over me. It was good to know that God through Jesus and His Spirit was there with us - standing by us - weeping with us and giving comfort as only He can )
Heart disease had caused the “painful loss” of many I cared deeply about ...
and yet I had (arrogantly) rejected the possibility that it could happen to me.
There are many who have done the same with God, they have heard His story, and they have rejected it. Hearing about “heart disease:” again was not going to make me seek treatment. And hearing the “gospel” over and over again is unlikely to cause this “non-believer” to turn to God.
How do we come from denial to acceptance? For illnesses, sometimes we find out suddenly (e.g. a heart attack), sometimes through gradual awareness that something may be wrong, sometimes because of serious symptoms, sometimes because of routine testing.
For those with “broken spirits” awareness of their state may also come in various ways and how we “teach” them will differ dependent on the situation
What changed me was a “significant event” (although it didn’t seem significant at the time) -- I had gone to the ER because of a persistent cough and, as an afterthought, told a nurse-practitioner about a mild burning sensation in my chest. (and let met tell you mentioning chest pain in an ER is like yelling “Fire” in a crowded room J)
People who observe and study these things say that, if anything will—it takes a significant event to cause a “wilful non-believer” to turn to God (or Jesus) (cf. Saul on the road to Damascus).
May God give us the ears to hear and the heart to serve that lets us be there for people in those moments when they become vulnerable and are open to the possibility that they may need help. (Reference at lecture series by Dr. Garry Bailey on shame, vulnerability and reconciliation held 2 weeks prior to my lesson - I hope in the coming days to write more about that and how it all fit's into my journey)
4th comparison: When I accepted the fact that there was a problem, I wondered if it was my “fault”- could I have prevented it – could I have exercised more; had a better diet – I felt guilt and even shame because maybe I had let people down. Or maybe it was genetic – it was my parents “fault” – there was nothing I could have done – it wasn’t my fault. And those “blame and shame" thoughts flowed through my mind endlessly for a while – haunting my nights and crippling my days.
However, in the end, I came to accept that the truth was ““Why”? didn’t matter - “It was what it was” - there was "bad news" and I needed to do something about it.
The same thing can happen when we realize that there may be something wrong with our “God heart” –and we need to come to the same point of accepting that there is "bad news" - denial - blaming and all that stuff doesn't change the fact that “I am responsible for my situation” - it is up to me to do something about it.
And there is good news -- For our physical problem there are medical treatments and cures – in my case the “broken valve” could be replaced. For the “spiritually broken (dead) hearts” God has promised a “new heart
and that is GOOD NEWS
Well when I started preparing this sermon I thought it would be one sermon – but the time is up and the story is not completed – so we end on the fact that there is GOOD NEWS and will wait for “Next time” for “the rest of the story"