Sharing a Beer with an Earnest Angel
I’m in pain, soul pain. I lift my head and see that we are finally letting loose the battle scars of self-sufficiency we have all had a turn holding. Now, we are bleeding as the infected stitches and the puss from our infections of debt, too much T.V., sex and sexy things and hurt kids that don’t look like kids at all has finally unraveled. Only, there is not a sterile hospital waiting for our arrival. No, we can’t afford a hospital.
I am—we are–outside in the wilderness, living with a leather strap as a tourniquet to keep our hearts from metaphorically bleeding to death; a place where creative survival is not enough. And why isn’t it enough? Because few of us know we are loved.
Like balm on a festered wound I would seal in the pain and talk myself out of fear, anxiety and even depression, slapping God’s hands away. “I can do it myself, thank you. I am, after all the expert of me.” However, it stopped working. My business of self-preservation and the pursuit of shiny silver linings stopped being profitable, and I became frustrated and even angry. Tears and tears and more tears slid me into a life of “please don’t look at me because I can’t manufacture that make-believe smile again.”
I know Jesus. I believe in Him. Believe His word. I love God, but I wouldn’t let Him touch my soul. Dark days followed me even though it was summer and my kids were home. I could barely lift my head. Exactly! I could barely lift my head! Because who is the lifter of my head!?
“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (Psalm 3:3).
I heard His gentle voice wooing me, asking me if He could be the lover of my soul, if He could deeply heal the belief that “I have to do this (encourage, cheer, speak tenderly, lead, guide, direct, heal, protect… love) myself.” I said yes.
Then I met Ernie. July 4th the men in my family lit the charcoal for hot dogs redneck-style–with a blow dryer–and Ernie joined the party. “Don’t I know you?” I asked. He chided me, laughingly accusing me of confusing him with “every other Mexican.” I smiled and recognized Jesus in him. He was my brother. We sat together as he poured out his life along with whisky and a beer. He confessed to drinking too much. He didn’t hide it or the fact that he was a Christian who drinks and loves the Lord.
He told me about the Christian retreats he worked at, the Christian concerts he volunteered for and for the many lives he prayed. But he boasted about getting fired, losing his wife, and failing his daughter—not because he was happy about it, but because he understood these things to be his weaknesses. He understood and operated in a deep knowing that God was there with him in his darkest hours of need. He had a very compelling resume that most people, even Christians, would stamp with a seal of disapproval.
But not God.
God had sealed Ernie’s heart and approved him worthy. Not because of anything Ernie did, but simply because he said “love me Lord!”
Ernie wore God’s love like a matador’s brightly colored cape.
In all of his travels, mistakes and mishaps he KNEW without a shadow of doubt that God loved him. God loves Ernie! For the first time I understood that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God; especially myself!
God is separating our souls from the fights, the failures, the poverty, the mistakes, and even now He is showing us that our imperfections aren’t in the way. They can’t be in the way! God never stops loving us. Never!
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
God loves you. Believe it!