Music, a Friend, and Thomas

I go through seasons where music really impacts me.  I’m not sure why some seasons do over others, but I do know that for some odd reason it’s true. Perhaps, I’m more emotional in some seasons and less emotional in others, or maybe I just stop and listen every once in a while. I don’t know, but I’d say I’m in one of those seasons now.
Music has really been encouraging my heart lately.

Earlier this week, I was driving to work when “Any Other Way” by Tenth Avenue North came over the speakers in my car. I turned up the volume on my iPod and began singing along – until I noticed what I was singing.

I was absolutely amazed at the truth in the lyrics. I put the song on repeat. Here’s a piece of it:

“I want to know who you are,

Even if you’re falling apart.

Reach in and touch your scars,

And all the shame you’ve held in your heart.

‘Cause it’s not enough,

It’s not enough,

Just to say that you’re okay.

I need your hurt,

I need your pain.

It’s not love any other way.

Let’s not pretend.

Stop your parade,

Trying to convince me,

That you’re alright,

That everything’s okay.

Yea, do you even know me?

‘Cause I already know who you are,

And all the things that kept us apart.

So reach in and touch my scars,

And know the price I paid for your heart.”

Wow! The song is a dialogue from God to us, and it’s saying to stop the act. It’s commanding that we stop pretending like we’ve got it all figured out and that we’re “independent” and without need. It’s absolutely moving.

He wants us to come to Him with our hurt and pain. He wants us to come to Him in need. He wants us to be real with Him.

That’s pretty refreshing.

About a year-and-a-half ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a woman who was really struggling with guilt, shame and hopelessness. As my friend and I met with her, we realized that in her feelings of self-disapproval, she had completely withdrawn from the Lord. She didn’t understand how the God who created the universe and sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins would still love her in light of everything in her past. She didn’t understand why He was keeping her alive. She felt useless, alone, and completely depressed. She had given up on seeking the Lord because she felt as though He wouldn’t accept her.

A couple of hours into the conversation, my friend and I encouraged her to pray. We each prayed for her, and then she, through her tears, told the Lord how she was feeling. She confessed her fear in thinking He wouldn’t listen. She confessed how lost and low she had become.

She laid it all out there – and, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone’s life change faster than hers has.

Today, she is truly an encouragement to those around her as she loves and serves. She is no longer stuck in the guilt and shame of her past (though sometimes, she might be reminded of it), but has surrendered it to the Lord. She opened herself up. She told the Lord where she was. She was honest and real. She was vulnerable with the King of Kings and Creator of the world. She allowed the Lord to reach inside her and touch the pain she was bottling up within – and He changed her heart.

The amazing thing about this is that God has always worked this way. The way that He moved, and is still moving, in my friend’s life, is the same way He’s always moved. God knows us. He finds us where we are, in the midst of our doubts, and meets our needs.

Take the disciple Thomas for example…

Jesus rises from the dead in John 20 and begins appearing to his disciples. First he appears to Mary Magdalene and then to a smaller group of men. That small group then tells one of their friends, Thomas, about seeing Jesus – and he doesn’t believe them. He thinks they are crazy.

Here’s how I see it…

Imagine that the person who had influenced your life most had been executed for a crime they didn’t commit…That’s where Thomas was. Jesus, his teacher and Lord, had been crucified. Even though Jesus had previously told his disciples that their grief would turn to joy (John 16:20), Thomas was probably pretty upset. I assume he felt a little defeated and was, most definitely, in doubt over whether or not Jesus would rise from the dead. He was stuck in disbelief. Until…

“A week later his disciples (the one’s Jesus appeared to after Mary) were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your fingers here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:26-28)

Jesus knew Thomas’ doubts and delivered him from them.  He knew what Thomas needed to believe and He pursued him until he did.

Where are you? Do you feel alone, depressed, hopeless, or scared? Let Him know.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

You know it completely, O Lord” (Psalm 139:1-4).

He knows us already. He knows what we need to grow. He knew Thomas needed to see his scars – the nail marks in his hands and the wound from the sword that pierced his side – and He met that need.

I think there’s this supernatural thing that happens during prayer. Even though the Lord knows everything about us including what we’re thinking and what we are on the verge of praying, He still commands us to do it. He wants us to pray. Why? I think He wants us to humble ourselves and willingly allow Him to know us. He wants us to invite Him into our thoughts. He wants us to tell Him how we are feeling. He wants to know us – and He wants us to know Him. He wants us to take our fears and doubts and lay them down at his feet.

He knew my friend just like He knew Thomas. He saw the hurt and doubt, and He showed himself to them. He knows you, too. He is able. Nothing is beyond Him.

He wants a relationship with us. He loves us. He’s committed to us. He wants us to trust Him. Wherever you are and whatever you’re facing, He’s there. Draw near and be real.

“Cause when I’m weak, You make me strong

When I’m blind, You shine Your light on me

Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability

How refreshing to know You don’t need me

How amazing to find that you want me

So I’ll stand on Your truth, and I’ll fight with Your strength

Until You bring the victory, by the power of Christ in me.”

          – Casting Crowns “In Me”