It was a typical scene. We were on our way home from a fun weekend overnight get-away to the mountains. Five guys were packed in the car since it’s about a 3 hour drive and I was in my usual seat. Being a “petite” as I like to call it, means I’m a man of slight stature and tucked into the middle between the other two sharing the back. It required some straddling. We were all feeling that well-being of exhausted satisfaction and it was time for a quick drive home. Wait. Did I mention that I live in Denver and we’re driving east from Glenwood Springs on I-70?
This stretch of highway is notorious for hours of traffic back ups on Sunday afternoons, and today was no different. Our 3 hour drive now according to Google was 5-6 hours and we were in dead stand still traffic. Sadly, our bladders were apparently not ready for this abrupt stop in our travel plans and as the minutes wore on the bathroom tension was growing thick in the car. Finally, our friend the driver couldn’t take it anymore and when traffic moved a bit, we pulled into an abandoned lot and scattered to the near by trees. Ah, what a relief (even though cars could still see us) but it sure made the long trip home a lot better. Funny what you’ll do when you’re desperate.
Desperation: “A state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme behavior.”
My funny little bathroom story illustrates what lengths you’ll go to when your feeling miserable, but our desperation can also take us down darker paths. It can also lead us into more extreme or rash behavior as Webster has informed us. I understand that route all too well. When my father passed away 12 years ago, I did not handle the loss very well. I ran to pretty much anything that would numb the ache—drinking, pornography, food and cigarettes. Yeah, not my finest hour for sure. All I know is, wow, this loss of a parent must have been VERY painful for me. But God’s grace is deeper still and I’m grateful He’s been digging me out of that hole these many years. Not so funny what you’ll do when you’re desperate.
When hope dies (or we kill it), it’s easy to give ourselves over to whatever we think will make us feel alive. Or we choose to feel safe and self-protected. We find ourselves at the crossroads of choosing despair or to risk hoping again. To hope again is to be very vulnerable. Scary.
The Road Less Traveled—But Why Blessed?
“Desperation wins. It always does. It’s a theme that rings through everything Jesus said and did. Those who are at the very end of themselves, desperate enough to humbly throw themselves vulnerably at the feet of God, with no excuses, will find exactly what they’re yearning for.” Brant Hansen, The Truth about Us, Pg 29
Yes. There is another path our desperation can lead us. If you’re wondering why it can be a blessed thing to be desperately desperate, I think Brant Hansen’s quote above says it all. Our illusion of self-sufficiency evaporates, our need rises up and we have no place left to go but down to our knees. And this is where we find many who were seeking Jesus—vulnerably at His feet.
There was a woman with a very sketchy reputation who crashed a party of elite society folk and anointed Christ with expensive perfume. She followed up this extravagant act by kissing and crying over His feet and wiping them with her hair. Jesus said she would always be remembered and here I am writing about her. Wow—desperation that leads to life. Another desperate woman thought if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she would be healed from her terminal bleeding and it stopped. Desperation which leads to healing. A little man who was a hated tax collector climbed up a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. Pretty unprofessional I’d say. But Jesus saw him and then had dinner at his house. Desperation which leads to these rash and extreme behaviors saves.
Desperately Seeking Susan…I mean Jesus
One of my favorite and most baffling stories of desperation can be found in Luke 5. Some very amazing friends are determined to get Jesus to heal their paralyzed friend which they carry on a bed. Unable to get into the house where Jesus is teaching they decide to do the barely noticeable thing and start hacking a hole in the roof of the home. Suddenly this guy is being lowered down to the feet of Jesus. Whaaat???
I think I’ve read this story so many times that I forget how crazy and obnoxious it really is. If I place myself as the owner of the home, I’d be like—“Um, Jesus…they’re totally destroying my house? Can you ask them to wait their turn like everyone else? Who’s gong to fix this?” But Jesus is SUPER delighted and not only heals him but forgives his sins which makes the Pharisee’s angry (again). No mention of the house, the roof or who’s cleaning up the mess. Guess Jesus has other priorities, but I still feel for the owner.
So as Brant Hansen says—desperation always wins. And when we let our desperation lead us to hope and vulnerability towards Jesus, we might even get what we long for in the end. Amen. I am glad I am in such good company of crazy Jesus followers. Now that’s some rash and extreme behavior I can get behind.
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