Audio Currently Unavailable

What Do You Mean?

I had no particular reason for my tears. There had never been a conscious thought in my mind saying, "Linda, you need to shed tears and absolve your father of his sins." Had this thought ever entered my mind, it would have instantly been subject to the incredulous response, "What do you mean?" Then, the thought would have been dismissed. But, one day the tears came.

I was pastor of a large, Gothic building which had seen membership and financial loss as the neighborhood had undergone transition. The maintenance requirement and the utility bills were enough to make me cry. My Grandmother was dying with Alzheimers. Our only daughter, after her first year of college, had not brought home a grade report but a doctor's report of her pregnancy. There were many good reasons to cry. But when the tears began that day, they were not for me. They were tears for him, my victimizer! My father.

I cried for the loss of his childhood. His mother had died and his father had gotten "lost" before he was seven years old. He didn't get to develop that necessary sense of security. His world was not a safe place, where for just a few years he could be the center of the universe.

I cried for him. He needed my tears.

I cried for him having to fend for himself. His mother's two sisters lived together. One was married to an alcoholic and had five children. The other aunt was single, but had accepted responsibility for another sister's three sons. Into his huge, extended and dysfunctional family, my father tried to find a place to be somebody with no one to watch his back.

I cried for him. He needed my tears.

I cried for the color of his skin and the searching brilliance of his sharp mind. Black, was not beautiful! The script for his day read that dark skin equaled inferiority and lack of ability to think or to articulate. The schools should have been a challenging and instructive place, where his creative potential was appreciated and honored. That did not happen. I cried for him. He needed my tears.

I didn't plan for those tears to come. I wasn't prepared for their intensity, but I cried for him. He needed my tears. Did the tears absolve his sin toward me? Of course not! Did the tears wipe away the horrible memories and the pain of incest? Indeed not! Did the tears heal my wounded spirit and mend my broken heart? Absolutely not! But those tears were the beginning of me taking back my yesterdays! The tears began to melt the hate which had gathered for too long around my heart. The tears began to wash my mind of the aged lack of forgiveness. The tears helped me to view the other side of my father's story. Healing began its awesome work within me. My father had been dead for over twelve years. But, that day, he needed my tears. I cried for him. And, I began to ask God, the question of inquiry, "What do you mean by these tears?"

The Biblical passage for today is recorded in chapter 16 of the Gospel of John, verses 12-17. Jesus has told the Disciples that he is going to be killed. He has informed them that they will have to undergo severe persecution. And, he has stated that there will be more trials, tribulations and troubles coming their way. Now he tries to wrap up his earthly teachings to those he has loved and taught for over three years. He struggles to bring all the lessons to a conclusion. He uses these words: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, you will be guided into all truth. For the Holy Spirit will not speak in isolation, but will speak what is given from me, and declare it to you. All that the Creator God has is mine. For this reason, I have said that the Holy Spirit will take what is mine and declare it unto you."

On this side of the Resurrection, we know that Jesus did not choose the best educated, or the most literate people to accompany him. He chose some who were not quick studies, not fast to catch the vision or to understand his revelations. In other words, the Disciples were pretty dense at points. So, when Jesus, in his summation, begins by saying, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now." The first thing that jumped to their minds had to be "What do you mean?" Not only was this an incredulous statement, it was insulting.

"What do you mean?" would have been an appropriate response for those who had been so close to the Teacher. They had left homes, families and jobs to walk those dusty roads, to live off the hospitality of others and had been held in contempt by the Temple Leaders. Now, he tells them that what he has been trying to teach, they simply do not understand? How dare he say this to them?

Jesus said it because he understood that in many matters concerning our spiritual journey, "ignorance is bliss." If we really knew what would be required of us at the next bend in the road, most likely, we would stand sill, mark time and look for other directions to take. No one wants to encounter danger, pain or heartache on their journey. We want to believe that everything is going to be fine and dandy, every day and all the time. But, this was not the way of Jesus. It was not the way of the Disciples. And it is not the way of God's people today.

There are many things we cannot bear to know about tomorrow. The Disciples didn't have a clue about the realm that Jesus came to usher in. They didn't want to hear or to comprehend that following Jesus is the way of suffering, sorrow, of giving up and growing up into our best potential. Oh, Jesus begins to offer them the comfort of the Trinity. Jesus informs them that God, in love, owns all things, has all things under control and has given unto him all power and authority to help us through the difficulties of our life. Jesus promises them the companionship of the Holy Spirit who will come to lead us, step by step along the journey. As he nears the end of his earthly mission, Jesus begins to focus the Disciples' minds on who is to come. "When the Holy Spirit comes, you will be guided into all truth."

The Holy Spirit comes to lead us in the right direction. With the power of the Holy Spirit, living inside of us, we have a powerful resource to help guide us as we travel this journey. Everything that heaven holds belongs to us. And, as life demands from us, the Holy Spirit will give us exactly what we need, at the right time. I know that the light bulb of awareness came on for the Disciples after the Birthday of the Church. For they went on to become the great pioneers of The Institutional Church. How did they grow into awareness? They understood it better by and by. They couldn't fully comprehend the message on the day that the assignment was given, but they kept traveling forward in faith.

When I received Jesus as my personal Savior, I'm glad that I didn't know I would have to cry for the man who had brought so much painful confusion into my young life. I could not have understood. It would not have seemed fair for me to have to cry for the one who had caused me to shed so many tears over the years. But as the journey continued, Truth was revealed on my way. Truth said, "Linda, as tightly as you hold onto old hate and anger, it keeps you stuck in the same old place." Truth said, "Linda, vengeance belongs to God." Truth said, in Matthew 6:14, "Linda, if you forgive another's sins, God will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive, neither will God forgive your sins." Truth said, "Linda, trust me to take care of you!" The light bulb came on for me, my incredulous question and inquiring protest became my tears for the one who had hurt me. Today, I know what Jesus meant!

The old television show, Mission Impossible, opened with the team, disciples if you will, being given an impossible assignment via a tape recorder. The voice declares that the tape will self-destruct after he informs the group of their mission. It concludes with the warning that, if they get into trouble, he will disavow any knowledge or responsibility for their actions or their safety. They know that they are on their own. Honestly, some days this task of being a Christian seems almost like Mission Impossible. What are you facing along your journey that has you questioning life with, "What do you mean?" Can you think of any similar experience that you came through with victory? Can you trust God to handle this present situation? Don't try to figure it all out, but, expect the healing guidance of the Holy Spirit in this matter too.

I thank God for this particular passage of Scripture which guarantees us that we are never left on our own! I thank God that we have been promised every resource that we need. And, I thank God we have the blessed assurance that regardless to what's going on in our life right now, "We will understand it better, by and by." That's good enough for me!