Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 53

What I Read Today: 2 Corinthians 1:1–2:4.

What Stood Out About What I Read Today: 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7, “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort.

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

It’s one of those sayings you pick up when you live in the Deep South. I have no idea where I heard it first or who said it or even where it originated…but it stuck in my brain from my childhood:

“You don’t look under the bed unless you’ve hidden there before.”

The idea seems obvious to me, but whenever I use the phrase, some folks from outside the South seem to need an explanation. It paints a picture that whenever you accuse someome one of something that isn’t necessarily obvious, it’s highly likely that you picked up on that nuance because you’ve done that very thing.

For example, a friend of mine was walking into a fast-food restaurant and noticed a parked car with cracked windows at the far end of the parking lot. Her immediate observation was that those kids were over there smoking pot…and they’d soon be hungry and rolling into the food place to each be getting as much food as possible for as little money as possible. I likley would never have noticed it, but my friend, who had been a part of that kind of behavior in her life “pre-conversion” spotted it right off. She’d hidden under that bed before so she knew to look there.

In my world, I see kids coming to class a little bit–but not too much–late. They grab a chair in the back. They are usually wearing clothes that mimick or represent their favorite musical artists. They might have a piercing or tattoo. They sit in the back rows and are listening intently, with a healthy set of questions they’d like to ask about Jesus and the Bible and the spiritual life and the teacher’s personal life but they’ll never do it in a public setting.

So, usually, I’m able to stroll up after class and say something like, “Hey, I could tell you have some questions you’d like to ask. I was wondering if you’d like to grab a cup of coffee sometime and maybe get to know me a little bit to see if you want to ask me those questions. Oh, by the way, I really like “Pavement,” too.” (“Pavement” is a relatively obscure but highly respected indie rock band)

How would I even know how to phrase the question that way?

Because that kid was me when I was his age. I didn’t want to deal with the awkward social situations that new kids bring, so I came late on purpose. Sometimes I’d even sit in the car and listen to R.E.M. until 5 minutes after the start time. I could stroll in unnoticed and slide into a seat in the back…even in my “Clash” t-shirt. I didn’t know the social codes of conduct of this group of people, so I didn’t feel comfortable asking questions, particularly since everyone else seemed to know the answers. Sometimes, I’d even write my questions down on a napkin or the announcements or my hand. And as much as I might’ve wanted to get to know the teacher, I never would’ve initiated contact (especially since I didn’t know if that was even allowed in this new tribe I was hanging out with).

And that’s a lot of what is being talked about in the verses I highlighted today.

See, we’ve all been through some crud in our lives, haven’t we? Miscarriages. Cancer of all shapes and sizes. Flunking out of school. Getting arrested. Losing a business. Divorce. Crushed dreams. Mean people. Car wrecks. Bad injuries. Broken friendships. Goofy family dynamics. Being misunderstood. Drug use. Compulsions and/or addictions. You name it. We all have baggage. It’s just different colors and shapes and sizes…but we all have baggage.

And one of the things that is pretty cool about God is that He’s hidden under all our beds. And He seems to give us varying degrees of opportunity to talk about that crud we’ve been through with someone else that is going through that crud. Who better to spend time with a young woman who miscarried than someone who has miscarried? Who better to talk about fighting cancer than someone who has? Wh better to help a kid struggling with grades than someone who wasn’t at the top of their class? Who better to minister to someone in jail? Who better to help the businessman that got fired? Who better to help someone going through a divorce? Who better to pick up someone who just lost their big shot? Who better to talk to a middle school girl getting treated badly? Etc. Etc. and on and on, but you get the idea, right?

It’s right here in Scripture.

We experience trouble. We go through the muck and the mire and maybe we get a few scars and maybe we win some and lose some and learn to depend on Him a little bit more in the process than we did when the process started. Somehow, someway, we got through it with His help.

It’s peculiar how a few months or weeks or months or years after the crud that gave us this baggage shows up right in front of us in the form of someone else who is going through the same crud. We never knew anyone before that had been through what we’d been through and then some one mentions casually how they’re in the middle of the crud.

And there we are. All equipped and ready to serve and show God’s mercy and love. Because we’ve hidden under that bed before.

As a quick aside…all too often parents went through this stuff and then HIGHLY overreact to protect their children from going through the same things. Sure, you can save some heartache here and there, but you can’t protect them from everything. So, stop trying. Sometimes our kids need to learn to experience God’s grace and mercy and love from someone so they can grow in Him. Two quick things: Your hyper helicopter parenting is ultimately WAY more harmful than if they come rolling in drunk one night, giving you the chance to talk about behavior and such while they’re under your roof, don’t you think? They’ll never grow up with you protecting them from anything and everything. God loves them more than you do, anyway, right? So you might want to trust Him more than your own ability to protect & defend, right?

So, today, look at your hurts and crud and baggage…

…and be on the alert for how you can serve others because of the beds you’ve hidden under.

And don’t think for a second that I don’t know that this is going to cause you to be open & honest with others as well as yourselves. Because if we take off those masks and be ourselves, well, others will grow.

We will grow.

And that’s the point. Trust me, the point isn’t to become better at hide-and-seek.

(Tomorrow’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5–3:18)