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Thursday, April 23, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Once one has had the hatchet put to his ministerial neck, blood flowing in all directions, it is only natural / normal for one to be gun shy about any further relationships. That is so particularly when trying to build any bridge with a person called "Christian" or "religious" or "spiritual".

After all, it was in that camp that one was led to the slaughter. Like, dah!

So. . .one has two choices: become a hermit with Jesus in the wilds or take time to build wise relationships with a few trustworthy persons.

Keep in mind that some of those trusted souls may in fact not be all that Christian or religious or spiritual. You will discover that there are some persons who do not have personal relationships with God who yet have come upon a generous supply of "general grace" from the divine. That is, they have natural qualities of decency, manners and respect that can be lacking in some of those who claim to be "Christian." To God be the praise for general graces.

Therefore, back to the two choices: one can decide on one or another.

When first being put under the ecclesiastical guillotine, it may be prudent to go for the hermit-with-Jesus-in-the-wilds environs. That provides time to gain sight again, come upon a balance once more and recoup emotionally from the terrible blows leveled against one's innocent soul.

In God's time of healing surely, that hermit state will usually give way to an edgy, cautious moving out into the social circle once more. With each of us, it is a different time frame, of course, because of our individualities.

Nevertheless, if we live long enough, the move out will no doubt--hopefully--take place.

But when it does, be careful. Your innate senses will no doubt aid you at this point; but when even they go a-hiking, move logic into high gear for being legitimately careful.

Take it from one who has wrestled with this bottom-line a long time and still has come back to it to believe it as truth: one has only a FEW trusted friends in a lifetime. There are many how-do-you-do acquaintances out there; but the sincerely tried-and-true companions number as the fingers on one hand. Maybe an extra one or two for good measure. But that is about it.

So settle for small numbers and quality in those relationships. It is the wiser move.

(Because we live in a spiritually fallen sphere where most is upside down, inside out, there are more betrayers than friends potential in this life span--usually).

So when carefully returning to the social circle, ask God to warn you of land mines. Then heed every nudge.

Further, you might try building bridges with those outside your previous churchly world. Those persons are not of your previous politic. They too have had their slaughter experiences. But when they meet you--outside THEIR churchly worlds--they will no doubt latch onto you, too.


Because they and you are on safe turf. Neither of you can damage the other.

I recall talking with Catholic priests who dumped on me all kinds of their personal, painful stuff. Why? Because I am Protestant; they knew I could not do them any damage. So they reasoned: Go for it! And they did! Why not? It was good therapy; but more, it was the start of a sound friendship.

Hey, you: Been put under the ecclesiastical knife?

Then consider yourself among the prophets of whom Jesus spoke highly. And then ask God to lead you back to trusting only the few who have hearts of gold.

There are only a few. (Ask Jesus, for starters, how many He had at The Close.)

But they are there. It only takes the divine lead to locate them.