McDonalds, Wal-Mart and John Wayne

I’ve become a big crybaby.  I can cry at a McDonalds commercial.  Put a little puppy and toddler in a T.V. commercial and I am slinging snot all over the place.  I find this emotionalism to be a great threat to my pseudo-masculine persona.  I am quite certain John Wayne never cried as he watched a movie or a T.V. show much less a commercial.

One time as Jesus was cresting the brow of a hill overlooking Jerusalem and gazing out at the Holy City of God, He cried,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!   Matt 23:37 (NKJV)

What is Jesus grieving? Is He offended that they wouldn’t listen to His teachings like some petty and petulant preacher?  No, He was weeping and mourning over a city for whom God is moving away.

Jerusalem was thought to be the earthly residence of God yet with Christ’s soon coming death, resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Christ-followers this geographical importance was about to shift.  But beyond that, Israel was moving away from their unique status as a priestly nation. When Israel rejected God’s Messiah, God turned to other people. This was the end of that unique relationship God and Israel had for 4,000 years.

In some ways, Jesus was saying goodbye to an old friend. And it hurt His heart. The really sad part was that Jerusalem didn’t even know it. They didn’t know enough about their situation to grieve their own loss.  They had no idea what the were losing the Kingdom….but the King knew it.

A Kingdom person grieves for those who do not know they need to grieve. He or she grieves for those who can’t or won’t grieve for themselves.  We grieve for the person who doesn’t even know they are in trouble.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn…”

This is in the present tense in the Greek: “Blessed are they who mourn and keep on mourning for they shall be comforted.”

Grief is something you carry around in your life.  Like a sniffling cold you can’t seem to be rid of, Christ-followers are always hurting for what hurst the heart of God.  When you get to where you can look at the pain and suffering of this world and not be moved—you know that you have moved far from the God who does.

Following hard after Christ means we have one eye on the heavens and one eye on the suffering in Darfur, Iraq, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Mukilteo…

What does it mean to mourn or grieve?

It is the idea of a passionate lament— the utter sorrow of a broken heart, a desperate ache of the soul.  When I mourn I enter into deep and intense anguish, whether mourning over something that is wrong and out of control in my own life or some injustice in the world.  It may be a mourning over some personal loss of possesion or over someone’s death.  It is deep and it is profound.

However I find it is easier to be merciful to a group than to be merciful to a person.  For me macro compassion is easier than mircro compassion.  It seems safer that way.  Not as messy.  It is easier to be merciful from a distance than it is up close.

I was at Wal-Mart and saw something that shocked me. As I was leaving, a very large person, 6’ 4” and over 250 pounds, was walking ahead of me. She had long black hair and a powder blue dress on. With her heals she was taller than me. Broad shoulders and very hairy arms.

As I followed her towards the exit, I thought how unfortunate that this woman was born with the genetics that would cause her to be so unfeminine.

The person who works for Wal-Mart and greets you as you leave was waiting for her and as the large woman approached the Wal-Mart greeter said to her in a voice that told me she had spoken to the large woman before,

“That is a much better wig for you. You look much better.”

I thought not only does this large woman have the burden of being so large—she must also be dealing with cancer and has to wear a wig. How sad, I thought.

Then as the large woman got closer to the Wal-Mart worker, she said “Thank you” (deep voice of man)

I stopped following so close.   I could feel my compassion screech to a halt.  I was willing to have compassion on an unfortunate woman who had been dealt a tough genetic lot in life.  But I was hesitant to have compassion on a man who was so strange that he would dress up as a woman.  I watched him/her walk out to his/her car. As people passed they would look back and their faces revealed their thoughts. Contempt. Perversion.

Then I wondered what is going on inside this man that would cause him to dress as a woman.

I tried to imagine his childhood.   What kind of pain was present in his soul so intense that it would cause a man to dress and behave in such a way that virtually his entire world would look at him as a freak?

I thought—there walks a confused, tortured and very lonely man.

I am a man who will mourn for victims of this world—but my lament stops short for those who behave in ways that bring about their own troubles.  Self-inflicted suffering is difficult for me to accept.  What does that say about me? 

One thing it says is that I am not as blessed as I could be.  For I am not doing what Jesus said I must do to be blessed.  I am not morning over what he mourns.  What moves Jesus does not move me.  And that is worthy of my own lament.  Becasue that shows me that I am out of step with Jesus.  We are not walking to the same cadence.  We might not be walking on the same path.  And that does not bode well for me.  That is a great way to get lost.

If there are people in this world that can’t mourn their own plight—because they are “willfully blind” to it or even arrogant, then let me fall to my knees and weep for those who are so ruined.

There is a saying in AA:  The same door that keeps pain out keeps joy out as well.

I would like to modify that idea: When I open my heart in such a way as to truly feel the pain of others—that open aperture of my soul allsows God’s comfort to access deep places in my heart.  Places that need redemption and healing.  When I refuse to feel deeply and mourn the pain of this world, I block the access of my soul to receive the comfort of God.

One of the great ironies of this life is that the greater my capacity to mourn the greater my capacity to be comforted.   

Scripture says that Jesus wept and that he was a man full of sorrows and aquainted with grief. 

I guess the question I have to ask my self is whether I want to be more like John Wayne or Jesus Christ.


3 thoughts on “McDonalds, Wal-Mart and John Wayne

  1. Great post Joe. You look more like John Wayne but it is clear that your heart and alignment is centered on Christ.

    In marketing, the challenge is to let the customer discover the aspects of the product or service that is most appealing…allowing individual interpretation rather than telling them what to think. I thought about this as I read the story of the man/woman at Wal-Mart. We all have opportunity’s to discover who we are by our reactions to others.

    Thanks for sharing this and all your posts.

  2. Dad I really liked what you said about the capacity to mourn and the capacity to be comforted.

    “One of the great ironies of this life is that the greater my capacity to mourn the greater my capacity to be comforted.”

    I think that as men when we draw closer to the heart of God we see how wild God is, how powerful and free He is and we long to be “Holy, Wild,Righteous, Worthy, and Godly Men” like Noah, Moses, David, and John. In these men as in Christ we see strength and a ferocity that is alluring but we tend to gloss over the kindness, the loving ,and the mourning heart of these men who followed the Lord. But as we come to know the heart of God and seek Him daily I believe that He will soften our hearts and the things that grieve the heart of God will in time grieve our hearts as well. And what an awesome God He is that along with drawing us closer to Him that we recognize the mournings of His heart, at the same time He brings healing and comfort to ours.

    Thanks for something to think about.

    love you Dad,


  3. Pretty gut wrenching thoughts…..we are all guilty. In this business we deal with a large number of gay people both men and women. I’m sure it is why God has placed me in this place at this time. Some are very good friends and wonderful people; some are hateful, defensive and abrasive (reminds me of church people). I know they live a difficult life of conflict with society and many with the people who love them the most. I mourn for the families that have difficulty in accepting the lifestyle and yet love their children dearly. Two of our friends (gay couple) were here a week ago Sunday and attended our building dedication with us. Both are born again Christians and has one a very active prayer life and devotional time. He sat next to me during the service and sang his heart out and much of the time with tears in his eyes. They do not go to church in Portland (don’t know where they would be accepted and I understand that too). I just have to say God loves these guys (may not be happy with their lifestyle) but he loves them just the same and they are His children. So what do we do? We don’t condone the lifestyle (they could both live a life of celibacy) but we are commanded to love them. I am so glad that God is bigger than we are and can sort all of this out on the day of judgment. In the meantime I am learning it is in His capable hands and He will sort it all out and I am just to be caught mourning the conflicts and heart breaks and loving His children. Thanks for the article, it was encouraging.
    Love, Mom

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