Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ketchup packets

Don't ask me why, but ketchup packets used to fascinate me (okay, they kind of still do). Like, how do they get all the ketchup in there without making a big mess? Do they just clean it off afterwards? Do they use a tiny ketchup straw to get it in there? Or do they place a blob of the stuff on one piece of the foil-plasticy wrap, and then stamp another piece over top of it? (If you have any clue, please tell me, I really haven't the slightest idea.)

And of course, you always get that one stubborn packet which just doesn't want to be opened. You try ripping along the dotted line, you try biting a hole in it, in a fit of desperation you even take a plastic knife from the silverware station and try stabbing the stubborn thing open. And then you give up (or at least I do, after all I've already spent five hours* trying and rubbed my hands raw making sure they're dry enough to open it) and toss it in the trash in disgust as you go for another one.

Just like ketchup packets are kind of useless if we can't even get them open, so we can never truly minister or be useful to others if we've closed ourselves off to them. If we're not honest about who we are, if we live our lives like they're perfect little fairy tales with magical cotton candy clouds and glittery pansies, how can we help those who are hurting?

The group Casting Crowns talks about how we tend to put a mask on our lives in their song Stained-Glass Masquerade. We become perfect-mold people going into a perfect-mold church going through perfect-mold rituals. But meanwhile, all around us people are grieving, our own hearts are bleeding, crying out, starving to seek help but afraid of rejection from the perfection illusion around us.

James urges us to be open about what we're going through with each other. He urges us to "confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed"  (James 5:16a, NKJV). God never meant us to keep it all inside. He meant for us to support one another, to bear each other's burdens, to love and pray for one another.

I don't mean tell everyone at church every gory detail of your life, but let them see your humanity, let them see who you really are, be honest if you're struggling with something and you need prayer, let them know that you've been through something similar to what they're going through, and that God's going to see them through. We have this idea in modern Christianity that we can't talk about our struggles, or that we should be so explicitly baring that we tell everyone every wrong thing we ever did. Ketchup packets which burst all over don't do us much good either. But by just letting people see we're human, letting them see that we're not on some crystal pedestal above them, we open ourselves up for not only helping those who are struggling, but receiving help ourselves.

Father, thank You that You send those in our way who need our ministry, or who can minster to us through You. I pray You keep us strong enough and brave enough to share when we need help and prayer. Give me strength and wisdom as I minster to those You send my way, and remind me that it's only through Your strength that I am of use. Amen. 

Speaking of being open to minster to others, (drum roll please), my mom, a very talented  song writer, has started her own blog and YouTube channel to share the beautiful songs she's writing (forgive me if I'm a little vain here, I mean she's my momma after all). Check out her blog here.

I'm planning a series to come really soon, but what are some topics you want me to talk about? Let me know in the comments!

*Yeah, that's definitely an example of hyperbole. I'm stubborn, but not to that extreme.

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