The Unconventional Way

During these unconventional times, perhaps we should consider an unconventional way!

Photo by Amy Barton

TEAR OFF THE ROOF

Taking the Unconventional Way

Judy Owens

And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him on account of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven….I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Mark 2:1-5

Lord, thank you for causing me to consider these four men who brought the paralytic to You. What a radical love that would empower them to take such an unconventional way.  The conventional way was blocked so they took another way. You ask me to consider what would compel them to discomfit themselves, to sweat and strain, to risk their reputations, to risk mockery and disapproval in order to bring this paralyzed man to You for healing, for help. Lord, they climbed to the top of Your house, they removed the roof of Your house, they dug an opening in the roof of Your house, and then they bore the full weight of this man to lower Him into Your midst.  What would compel them?  Most of us would not even go out of our own way to seek You for ourselves, much less someone as seemingly hopeless as a paralytic. We expect You to be easily found, to be readily found, to be at our beck and call, and then when it is difficult for us to find You, when You seemingly are hidden by the crowd, blocked by the crowding of our very own lives, blocked by the coverings of our own heart, we give up, we go our own way, we don’t dig to find You. And then we whine that You hide Yourself, that You don’t love us, that You don’t care. When what You really desire is to be truly desired by us at all cost. What You truly desire is a pure and spotless bride, a bride with a pure heart. What You truly want to know is, do we really love You. Lord, it was obvious what was and is in Your heart for us, for Your church, for Your bride. You tore a hole in the roof of the universe to bring us to You.  You descended from Your throne in the heavens to climb up Golgotha.  You bore the full weight of our sins on Your sinless body. You created in Yourself that eternal Holy of Holies where all may enter into the Father’s presence.  Lord, strengthen my heart to love You, to love Your body, my fellow men, my brothers and sisters, as You love—with a love that is willing to take an unconventional way, with a love that will climb onto rooftops, dig openings, and bear the weight of a person paralyzed by fear, by sin, by doubt just to bring them into Your living presence. Thank you, Lord, for the ones you sent to me, for the ones who went the extra measure, for the ones who saw me wounded, afraid, and paralyzed, for the ones who picked up my pallet and carried me into Your presence to hear You say, “My daughter, your sins are forgiven, take up your pallet and come home.” Now, Lord, strengthen me to pick up the pallet of others, of the ones You have given me to bring them into Your presence no matter the cost. Lord, strengthen me to tear through the coverings of my own heart to come to you fully and completely every day.  Strengthen me to uncover the Christ, the living word, the living bread who makes His home now in my heart. Lord, what else is there? What more could there possibly be?  What other way could there ever be? Paul said this was his stewardship; this is the mystery hidden from past ages. This is the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ is at home, no longer in Capernaum, but in us, His living tabernacle, not made with human hands. For some of us, or maybe all of us, an unconventional way is required.  If all the conventional ways are not working to release the presence of God, to release this river of life in our innermost being; if every other way is blocked, then take the unconventional. “The entire universe is standing on tiptoe, yearning to see the unveiling of God’s glorious sons and daughters!” (Romans 8: 19-22) Tear off the roof!!! 

A Great and Terrifying Grace

In watching “The Heart of Man’ I wasn’t expecting much. As a man incarcerated for a sexual offense, I have struggled with sexual addiction since I was a preteen. I have been through a sex offender treatment program and have viewed dozens of films on sexual addiction. None of them impacted me like “The Heart of Man.”

I found myself relating strongly to the testimonies. I saw that the struggles I believed were unique to me were actually shared struggles. In the video Jackie Hill Perry described that as a child, she didn’t know what happened to her was wrong, but somehow knew that it must be kept secret, knowing instinctively that it was shameful.  I hated what I was doing but felt strongly compelled to keep doing it until I was finally caught. Getting caught truly was, as William P. Young testified, “a great and terrifying grace.”

When we assembled in our groups the next week, I witnessed a group of men in prison openly and honestly discussing their struggles with sexual addiction and overcoming sexual abuse on a level I never saw before even in treatment. This encouraged me to tell my story to the group and ask for help. I had been bound by this for so long I couldn’t remember what it was like to be free. It has ruled my life so thoroughly that its absence would leave a terrifyingly large hole to fill. I don’t know where I am going when I leave here, but it has to be gone before I get there.

As my group gathered to lay hands on me and pray, I spoke to whatever spirit ruled that stronghold. I told it that I wasn’t giving up this time until it was gone. For the first time in years I have hope of winning this fight. For the first time ever I have a support group of spirit-filled prayer warriors, and I know I have the Lord on my side.