It's Brutiful

8:28 AMHeather

A friend sits by her father's bedside at hospice.  Waiting for the inevitable.  Reflecting.  Having hard talks and the profound kind of laughter that two people share in a crisis.  As I checked on her the other day, I said how beautiful those moments are.  But hard.  She said that her friend called them brutiful.  Beautiful.  Brutal.

Yes.  Yes, indeed.  Brutiful.  What a perfect description.

Yesterday, someone else mentions on Facebook how burdened she is for friends going through a hard time.  She gets a hearty "A-men" from multiple others who are carrying the burdens of loved ones.  So many are hurting.  And so many more are hurting for them.


It's the gospel.  In a nutshell.  This brutiful work.  

Friends who line the hallways of a hospital while a precious mother delivers a stillborn baby.  Knowing they won't see her to comfort her.  But determined to be physically close and offer the prayer cover she and her husband need in those brutiful moments.

Driving your dad to chemotherapy.  Knowing the cancer is terminal.  Holding his hand in the long hours.  Words are few, but the moments are precious.  Brutiful, in fact.

Gritting your teeth through dust and dirt and long work hours in the hot sun, the stench that comes with poverty filling your nose.  Determined to build a school for the children who have so little.  A simple building that symbolizes hope.  And a future.  Brutiful.

THIS is the gospel come to life.  Being broken for others.  Allowing your heart to break for what breaks God's.  All these moments I've described collide in the simple and challenging message that Jen Hatmaker offered last Thursday night.  

 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
John 14:12 

Even greater?  Greater than raising the dead to life?  Than healing the sick?  Giving sight to the blind?  Our human minds cannot comprehend this.  

Greater things, indeed.  When we consider what Jesus says is great.  When we stop looking at our own definition of greatness, defined by shock and awe.  And instead, we consider Jesus' definition of greatness.

Servanthood is the definition of greatness, according to the Son of God.  Least shall be first.  Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Him.  Feed the hungry.  Clothe the naked.  Visit the imprisoned.  Care for the poor.  

Jesus showed us by example.  As he offered the Last Supper to his disciples and washed their feet, telling them of His impending death through that symbolic ritual of communion.  And Jesus told them how he had eagerly desired this Passover meal with them.  Jen pointed out that in the original language, Jesus was saying he desired with desire.

He wasn't going through some rote and ritual as we tend to do when we take communion.  No, he was turning an ancient practice on its head with new meaning.  

He was telling us to desire with desire to be broken for others.  Not once, but continually.  Constantly living out this ritual.  Continually being a living Eucharist.  Letting your body be broken for others.  Tired and weary and exhausted as you serve others.  Pour yourself out like an offering for the sake of others.  To fill them.  To meet their needs.  

Yes, it's exhausting and hard.  Mercy has a cost.  Jesus showed us how great a cost it could bring on the cross.  2 Corinthians 4:10-12 points out clearly that "we who are alive are being given over to death for Jesus' sake...death is at work in us so that life is at work in you."  It's an exchange.  Offering ourselves to the work of sacrifice and being poured out so that others are filled and fed and fulfilled.  

Jen Hatmaker says THIS is the rhthym of the gospel.  Being emptied so others are fed.  And, in due season, being fed in our need while others are emptying themselves for our sake.

When we are comfortable and cozy and unbroken, then we are missing the gospel.  We are missing out on the glorious, brutiful point of the gospel.  We are completely missing the point.  And, far too many churches and far too many Christians are sitting back, fat and happy, and missing this life for death exchange.  We far too easily take communion with a blase attitude and miss the call to be the communion.  To be broken.  To be poured out.  To lay down our lives for a brother.  Not even necessarily literally.  But to lay down our agenda, our time, our efforts, our talents for the sake of others.

Christ alone can equip us for this difficult and God honoring task.  He alone in us can give us the strength and abilities to be the Living Eucharist.  He alone can bring us to a point of desiring with desire to care for others so well.

The irony?  When you empty yourself out in this fashion, you will never feel more full.  It's a miracle.  I love how Jen Hatmaker drove home these points.  That He alone is big enough to handle this spiritual miracle in us.  We just have to be willing. To ask.  Then start moving.  With eyes to fill those in your path.  With God's wisdom to see needs and fill them.  It's not complicated.  Smile at the frustrated cashier and say a kind word.  Take a deep breath before answering gently the exasperating needs of your toddler.  Greet your husband with a hug.  Jen said that when we treasure people, our hearts will follow.

True indeed.  The more we walk in this path, the more we want it.  The more we do it, the more natural it becomes.  The more we live it out, the more filled we become.  It's the greater thing.  It's the hard thing that comes with a cost.  And, as you move in this direction, it's the thing we will love and treasure and crave and be fulfilled by the most. 

How beautiful the feet who bring good news.  How BRUTIFUL. 

To sit with the hurting, offering your presence.  To be so overcome with the needs around you that you take action.  To see the homeless on the street corner and bring them a meal.  To care for orphans by supporting organizations that are doing amazing work around the world.  To have the widow over for dinner.  To visit the imprisoned.  To offer the fragrant offerings of prayers to cover the needs of those you know.  To ask God to help you bear others' burdens to the point that you physically ache.  I have been there.  And it still brings chill bumps to my skin when I recall it.  It's brutiful.  

It's profound.  It's a mystery how engaging in the work of being broken and poured out will come to fill you like nothing else.  How your foggy lens of selfish needs and materialism and comfort will be cleared as you step out.  How your heart will be more blessed than any way you could offer yourself in an effort to bless others.  

Don't be afraid of it.  Yes, it's hard and exhausting and tiring.  But, it's kingdom work.  It's profound.  It's brutal.  It's beautiful.  It's brutiful.  And you'll never regret it.

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