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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tears stain the face, but heal the soul

I have some friends who seemingly cry at the drop of a hat.  You just say something, then almost imperceptibly, the tears begin to well up and there you are, them leaking tears and you standing there holding your hat in your hand!  I've never been one of those individuals who "leaks" tears very often, but a good cry does something to cleanse our soul, doesn't it?  The most precious tears are often shed right when I least expect them.  For example, I can be driving down the road, listening to the Christian station, when a song comes on which "hits" me right where I am in life.  The words do more than carry me along - they minister to my heart.  In turn, I might just "leak" a little!

Crying is better than laughing.  It blotches the face but it scours the heart.  (Ecclesiastes 7:3 MSG)

Truth is, I like to laugh much better than I enjoy crying!  Yet, there are some definite "types" of tears which I think say much more than any amount of laughter.  These are the tears of grief, joy, comfort, and hope.  

The tears of grief:
We experience grief because we have some sense of loss.  It might be the loss of a loved one, but it could be the loss of reputation, relationship, or something more material such as a special bracelet someone made for us.  I remember losing my dad when I was around thirty.  He was a very special man in my life.  I could always turn to him.  He never judged.  His heart was always open, no matter what my behavior.  The night before he died, I went to see him after I got out of my nursing clinicals.  I was tired after a long day on the nursing floor, but I knew I needed to be there.  As I drove home that night, I recall vividly a song I have only heard another two or three times since then.  In the words of the song, a small child came home to cars and people surrounding his home.  The crux of the song:  Grandpa has gone home!  I knew this was God's way of telling me my heavenly Father was ushering my earthly father home.  He left us at five the next morning.  Yep, I "leaked" that night driving home.  But...it was a "good leak" because I knew exactly where my dad was going and I knew my heavenly Father had each of us who were left behind in his tender care.  We all experience grief - there is something quite "cleansing" about the shedding of the tears which come from a broken heart.  I think those tears are all captured in God's hand, then carefully transferred to little bottles.  Each bottle bears our name.  As God looks at each of the bottles, he sees some fuller than others, but each tear has such meaning - not one of them escaped his notice.  Not one of them is ever forgotten by him.  

The tears of joy:
Have you ever been so in awe of something someone did for you, so overwhelmed by the moment, you just "leak" tears of joy?  You know the ones I mean - the moment just ministers to your heart.  Those moments when more is spoken in one deed or one carefully chosen word than could ever be demonstrated in a thousand deeds or words.  I have been blessed with some pretty special friends in life.  Each season of my life has brought at least one specific friend who walks closely with me through that season.  In my young adult years, I had the closeness of a friend who encouraged my spiritual growth, challenged me to go to Bible College, and then even took care of my children so I could!  She changed their diapers, fed them lunch, and even helped me get them potty-trained - all while I was getting my education.  As I walked down the aisle to receive my diploma that night in 1984, I knew I was receiving this diploma for two people - because she made it possible by her sacrifice!  Yep, I "leaked" tears of joy as we embraced, she told me how proud she was of me, and I just held onto her knowing how awesome it was to have such a friend.  You see, we left within the week, never to see each other again.  Our "season" was ending.  But...oh what a time of joy we had celebrated over the years!  There is nothing quite as uplifting as having someone alongside in the journey.  In those "moments" - tears of joy are only natural.

The tears of comfort:
Lately, I have noticed myself being very sensitive to various songs of worship we sing at church, or when they come on the radio.  In the words, I find such comfort.  They minister deeply to my spirit and in turn, they minister to my mind and body, as well.  You see, God cannot touch our spirit and leave our mind or body unaffected.  In touching our spirit, he is getting at the heart of what makes us unique - for it is in the spirit where we connect with God.  The songs I am finding such comfort in right now?  Those which speak of the nearness of God.  I just am in a season of needing to experience his "nearness".  You probably know what I mean - those times when words just fail, but the presence of God just speaks volumes.  We all need these times of comfort for our soul - the best place of comfort is in the arms of Jesus.  I don't know about you, but when he holds this sinner close, I leak a little!

The tears of hope:
We all get to the place we just don't see any way things are going to work out.  We are at the end of our rope and we just see ourselves circling the drain, so to speak.  Tenth Avenue North has a song called, "Any Other Way".  The words which I'd like us to hear from this song are really found in the chorus:  "It's not enough just to say we're okay.  I need your hurt, I need your pain.  It's not love any other way."  The words are words of hope.  The Lord is speaking them.  He is saying, "YOU needed my hurts.  YOU needed my pain.  Frankly, it is NOT love any other way!"  It gives me great hope knowing God doesn't skimp on the very thing we need to be free of our own hurts and pain!  

Just some thoughts on tears this morning.  Yep, I leaked a few just writing this, but that is okay.  They are in my bottle - shelved carefully in his care.  How about yours?