Don Goulding - Blog

Ride Again

20160711 133636 2Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well … (Luke 6:27-29)

The one called Faithful and True rode a magnificent white stallion. I entered Christian ministry and a white horse was given to me also. Its name was love. 

I rode behind the King as he trampled injustice and comforted the oppressed. Joy awoke in my heart.

Christian coworkers came alongside and I was thrilled at the camaraderie. I hailed and they returned greetings. Then one of the smiling riders knocked me to the ground.

What was that? He was a coworker on a white horse the same as mine. I nursed my aches and muttered.

Jesus drew up his steed and chuckled. Did that laugh mean this was some kind of game?

I remounted and tried to stay near his great stallion. He was a perfect horseman and I soon fell behind.

More white-horsed riders came alongside, grinning. I grew to trust them. Once again, I was unhorsed and thrown to the mud.

I am slowly acquiring the secret rules of Christian ministry. To some, it’s a sort of game to knock others down.

To Jesus, ministry is no game at all but it does have rules. 

Rule number one—riding close to Jesus is a primary objective. It yields great spoils in eternity.

Rule number two—Unhorsing another rider disqualifies rewards.

Rule number three—The greatest of all prizes goes to those who are knocked down, then forgive, remount and ride again.

 

Prayer: Conquering Savior, help me forgive and love again.

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Healing Mud

shapeimage 3… he spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man’s eyes and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “sent”). So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:6, 7)

“Do you believe Jesus loves you?”

My question burst a paper-thin dam holding back the tears of a young Chinese mother. Her unrestrained streams marred a beautiful face. As my trusted interpreter hugged the despairing girl, a horrid story of spousal unfaithfulness came out between sobs.

I recognized the weeping that comes when a counselee draws close to buried grief. Tears over buried sorrow are tears of death. We grieve the expiration of a part of us that will never be seen or heard from again. In the case of the Chinese mother, she mourned the death of her love, trust, and family unity. All that was killed off by a cheating husband.

After a part of our soul dies, resurrection of peace is attainable. But first we need to lament, grieve deeply into the arms of Jesus. Let the wails explode and allow the tears to run. Our emotion comes because we are created in the image of a feeling God.

Life has no sorrow that Jesus can’t heal. We don’t have to endure our earthly sojourn with heart wounds. Ask him to make mud with spittle and apply it to the injury. He mixes his intimate humanity with the soil of our shared pain. It sticks to the heartache, forms a scab, then creates miraculous scar tissue. We still have the mark but sting disappears.

Healing never comes if I hide my injuries and pretend they don’t hurt. I must expose my wound and let the mud of Jesus do its work. Death, tears, mud, resurrection—it only works in that order.

For two more years, the Chinese mother prayed and took comfort from Jesus. Then the errant husband repented, received Christ’s forgiveness, and gave testimony of his conversion in an underground church meeting. It was a happy resurrection ending, but only after death, tears, and healing mud.

Prayer: Mighty Redeemer, apply your healing mud to my wounds.

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Inseparable

The Byzantine Market Square in Durrës 02For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39)

We were in the coastal city of Durres, Albania for an outreach. Our local friends were eager to show us their ancient Roman ruins where the Apostle Paul had walked. Historians record that he appointed a bishop over seventy Christian families in Durres during his missionary travels.

We dodged traffic and passed shoddy buildings from recent decades. In a vacant lot of weeds and litter, a graceful circle of Roman columns stood in contrast to the postmodern dilapidation. It was like a diamond tiara laying in the city dump. This site withstood two thousand years of wars, earthquakes, and twenty-five regime changes.

The secret to the longevity of Roman architecture was concrete. They combined powdered cement and water with an aggregate like stones or gravel, and concrete set into a nearly indestructible construction material. Concrete has the unique property that it becomes stronger over time. Even today, those columns are getting harder than when they were first made.

Precious souls reborn into Christ are like the aggregate hidden inside Roman cement. No matter our shape or history, no matter who we are or what we’ve done, the love of God binds us in impenetrable unity. It would sooner be possible to separate the aggregate from the Durres columns than it would be to remove the love of Christ from around his followers.

This love binds to my soul and encases me with spiritual protection. And it’s growing stronger. My place in heaven is more permanent now than when I was first made a Christian.

Death, angels, time—nothing in any realm can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer: Protector of my life, I am forever bonded to your love.

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