This morning, I was reading a story of one of the Desert Fathers, Abba Antony.
There was once a hunter who was travelling through the desert and he saw Abba Antony relaxing, laughing and joking with the brothers. The hunter was shocked. Abba Antony was an important Holy Man and it was inconceivable that he should behave in such a manner.
The hunter approached Abba Anthony and asked him why he was doing this, should he not act with more decorum, behave in a way that fitted his status?
Abba Antony asked the hunter to put an arrow in his bow and shoot it. The hunter did as Abba Antony asked. Again, Abba Antony asked the hunter to put an arrow in his bow and shoot it. The hunter, again, followed Abba Antony’s instruction. Over and over again Abba Antony got the hunter to repeat the action.
After some time of shooting arrows, the hunter cried out to Abba Antony “I cannot shoot anymore, my bow is stretching if I do it again, the bow will break!” Abba Antony replied “precisely, the bow needs to be rested or it will break”
That story really spoke to me this morning because, I am feeling really tired. I had a long day yesterday. I drove a very long distance and I am feeling pretty jaded this morning.
At first reading, that story reminded me of the necessity of rest and the importance of it. But, I also have to accept, that there are times when rest is just not possible. Commitments and responsibilities mean that I cannot always stop. Sadly, every so often, the bow breaks.
One of the things that I notice about myself, when the bow breaks, is that my emotions are all over the place. Some feelings that are buried deeply within, seem to make an unwelcome appearance into my daily life.
I find myself snapping at people as anger or impatience surfaces.
I feel wounded as pride makes an appearance
I feel guilty as I am aware of my inadequacies.
It was into these emotions that I read a passage in Marks Gospel this morning where Jesus asks His disciples if they would hide a lamp under a bowl or put it on a stand? I have always read these verses as Jesus saying that our faith is something that needs to be “in the open.” We should not hide our faith. (guilt nudges, yet again, because all I want to do is go back to bed) (inadequacy nudges, yet again, because who would really want a faith like mine?)
I felt, as though, God was underlining some words of Jesus to me;
For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
(Mark 4 vs. 22)
Sometimes, it takes our brokenness to bring out those things that are hidden. It is not so much the fact that we are broken (we are all broken in different ways), it is what we do with that brokenness that really matters.
So, why would God want to expose whatever is hidden and concealed deep down within me or, for that matter, in you?
As I thought about this passage and these words, I began to realise that not only is it talking about sharing faith it is, also, about how faith affects and shapes us. God is not in the business of condemning us (Romans 8 vs. 1) but, He is in the business of healing us.
If we bring our brokenness before Him, the gentle glowing of the light of the love of Christ can bring healing even to the deepest, darkest places of our hearts.