TD Jakes - The Beauty of In Between
Paul, when he says, "I count not myself to have apprehended", indulges in a moment of vulnerability that says to people who admire him, "I'm not there yet". I don't remember hearing any bishops preach on this part of the text or any pastors or any teachers get up and say, "You know, congregation, I really know the Word but I'm jacked up as a person. I speak Greek and Hebrew and I graduated from XXX University, but I'm completely dysfunctional as a husband or as a father. I'll make a great preacher, but I can't do business and the church's business is gonna be wrecked, but I will shout you into a fit". They don't say stuff like that. And yet the apostle Paul says, "I count not myself to have apprehended".
What brings this moment of vulnerability is the brief discussion of death that precedes it, because the closer you get to death, the more honest you become. Getting close to death makes you real. It makes you face up to some things, and deal with some things, and confront some things that normally you wouldn't confront with because, frankly, you are running out of time. And when you are running out of time, you don't have time for "surprises" so you just tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may. Does anybody understand what I'm talking about?
So as he contemplates the resurrection of the dead, he then engages in a moment of vulnerability and says, "I count not myself to have apprehended". Why, why, why are we so afraid to be vulnerable? Why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable? Maybe it is the past we came from and the pain it created that teaches us to be masters of disguise. Could it be possible that we think in the annals of our mind that if you knew who I really was, you wouldn't love me?
And so out of fear of rejection, I give you somebody I think you would like and hide who I really am because I'm afraid if you saw me as I am, you wouldn't like me because "I count not myself to have apprehended". I teach it, I preach it, but I have not attained it. Do you know what pressure it is to teach something that you haven't master. To help other people with their problems and then go home and try to figure out what in the world we're gonna do. To teach "Ten Points to a Strong Marriage", and argue all the way home with your wife.
"'Raising Children in the Admonition and the Fear of the Lord', is going to be my sermon this morning", and your son just wrecked your car in a drunken stupor. Because you cannot control life and some of us are exhausted from trying to control life. We would rather spend our energy controlling our image than to be vulnerable for a moment and say, "I count not myself to have apprehended", and run the risk of your rejection or retaliation or your vicious cruel cycles of gossip?
Look at the energy we spend, hiding our vulnerabilities to protect ourselves from people that many times don't even matter. And Paul, of all people, my theological hero, says, "I know you're studying me, Jakes, but listen, boy, 'I count not myself to have apprehended'". And I wonder, "How in the world did we leap over that and start talking about 'Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching to those things which are before', and overlook this moment of vulnerability when the apostle, the cripple of Tarsus, stumbles up to us and admits, 'I don't have it all together, but can you love me anyway and can I lead you anyway and can I teach you anyway and can I add value to your life? Can I hold my wound while I stitch your scars'"?
"I count not myself to have apprehended", is an indulgence in vulnerability and I think the reason that we are so afraid to be vulnerable is that the past teaches us to camouflage. It teaches us to cover up because, "The last time I tried to be real, I got hurt. And the last time I tried to be myself, I got fired. And the last time I opened up to somebody, they betrayed me. And the last time I confided in her, she went out and told my business".
And so we become masters at shutting out the pain and the hurt and the sorrow and the disappointment and the only problem with that is that when you become numb to the pain and the sorrow and the disappointment you also become numb to the joy and the peace and the life and the love and the vitality and the excitement and you start living your life like the walking dead. Going through the motions and you can't remember what day it is. Is it Thursday or Tuesday? I'm not sure because all of my days look the same when I'm numb. All of my days are the same when I'm numb because when I'm numb I lose all sense of time and, yes, I lose all sense of pain, but I lose all sense of joy too. And this tasteless life of mine is filled with indulgences to cover up its emptiness because what I built to protect myself and insulate myself has now incarcerated myself, and I am missing the pain, but I am missing the joy. I'm missing the confusion, but I'm missing the love, because when today called the roll, I was not present.
"Nah, I'm not gonna be present. I'd rather be spiritual and not be present. I'd rather put all of my energies into forgetting the things which are behind me, dealing with yesterday or let me get over here and shout about tomorrow. Tomorrow about this time, hallelujah, before the clock strikes 12, and at midnight, and someday", and after a while, see, we got faith for the past and we got faith for the future, but what do you have for the now? Are we always just gonna be forgetting and reaching, forgetting and reaching, forgetting and reaching, forgetting and reaching, and looking over today because we don't wanna talk about today because today "I count not myself to have apprehended".
So let's talk about tomorrow 'cause "I'm gonna get it tomorrow. I'm gonna have it tomorrow. I'm gonna have it by the end of the year. This is my year. By the end of the year. What month is it? I've got six months left. By the end of the year, I'm gonna have it, and I'm living to get there. I can't wait 'til I get there", but you can't embrace the now without embracing the vulnerability of "I count not myself to have apprehended".
I'm not finished now. I'm not complete now. And people don't like things that are not finished. They don't like things that are in between. "Girl, I left him because he was not ready for me". Puh-lease! Not please, puh-lease!
Are you really as wonderful as you try to project that you are? Have you sold your beliefs as realities that what you believe about a thing, you've convinced yourself that your truth is the only truth? Are you telling yourself a narrative about you that has conveniently made you always right and everybody else just doesn't get it? And do you do that because you're afraid to be vulnerable enough to admit that, "I count not myself to have apprehended".
Oh no, God forbid that we be vulnerable. And when we can't be vulnerable, we can't grow. You can't grow. If you've got to always be there, you can't grow. If you have convinced yourself... ooh, y'all are quiet. If you have convinced yourself that you are right and everybody else is wrong, you miss the opportunity to learn the lessons that life came to teach you because when life called the roll for school, you were not present. You were not present. You were either in yesterday or groping after tomorrow. And you were not present.
You'd be shocked at the people who come home every night but never come home. Who show up for work every day but never show up. Who live with you and love with you and sleep with you and deal with you but are not there with you because we're saving ourselves for you to get right, for you to be perfect. I'm not gonna reward you with my love 'cause you don't deserve to be loved, you imperfect thing, you... I'll be your husband. You can keep the ring on but you'll never really have the man that I could be, because I'm still mad over something you said and I'm here, but I'm not present. Because our situation is not perfect and I can't deal with not perfect. So I'm reaching after other kinds of stuff, some utopia, some euphoria, some place that's wonderful. "In the sweet by and by, We shall meet"... Everything's "we shall", "in the sweet", "by and by", "after a while", "someday", because it's easier to reach for it than to deal with the naked reality of "I count not myself to have apprehended".
It is us working together on your imperfections that makes him love you. It is me running out, getting stuff to help you turn it in that says I care, when I could have just walked away and said, "You brought it on yourself. Deal with it the best way you can". It is our imperfections that show our love. And if you hide from that, you hide from life. That's all there is. That's it. If you miss the glorious now, the pleasure of this moment, you miss it all.
I am sick to death of unthankful people who are so busy pointing out what's wrong that they never notice what's right. They're so busy giving you a report card and say, "I give you a C or a B or thumbs up or thumbs down". Who are you to give me anything with your crazy self? I wish you would judge me. I'm back, he, he, he. I lost it there for a minute. That was real, did you know that? I had a attitude for a second. Brother had to call himself back. "I count not myself".
Oh, what a liberty, what a freeing idea it is to be gloriously confused and not quite there. Oh, it's so wonderful not to have the answer to every question and not to be the all-wise, all-seeing, all-knowing person, to have the glorious liberty of saying, "Look, boys, I don't know it all. I don't have it all. I don't understand it all, and I haven't figured it all out but I do know this: 'I am forgetting those things which are behind me'. Whatever it is that I'm supposed to learn about life, it's not in my past. I sifted through it, I searched through it, I've rubbed and rummaged and ran through it, and I am convinced that there's nothing back there for me. Glory to God, there is nothing in my history that is controlling my destiny. So 'I'm forgetting those things which are behind me and, yes, I'm reaching to those things', I've got some goals, and I got some hopes, and I got some ambitions, and I got some dreams, and I got some plans, and I got some hope for, and hope so, and wish I could, and think I could, and maybe I can, but in the meantime I just wanna stand right where I am and tell you 'Maybe, I count not myself to have apprehended'".
You will never be alive to love and life and peace and victory when you run from pain and sorrow and disappointment, because they are inextricably connected, one to the other, and you can't have one without the other, and your fierce need to protect yourself from the vulnerability of what could go wrong, or what did go wrong, or what might go wrong, or what might happen to the kids, or what the spouse might do, stops you from seeing the beauty of what they are doing. Until you are open to the beauty of in between, you will miss the greatest moments of your life.
I'm almost finished. But can I go a little further? This is how God and I talk when we get alone. And he teaches me things I didn't see and things I overlooked. I looked at my speakings on Father's Day as I talked about Jairus' daughter being at the point of death and how Jesus went to wake him up. You remember that? And I knew there was something else there for me to see and I had to go back and look at it. Jairus, the rich... not rich, the young ruler, ruler of the synagogue comes to Jesus and says, "My daughter is at the point of death". And he says, "I can't do anything else. I need you to come and raise him up".
And the Bible says that Jesus got ready to go and the crowd enthronged him and he was on his way to Jairus' daughter's house to heal her. He was on his way, he was reaching toward it and, as he was reaching toward Jairus' daughter's house, there was a woman who came through the crowd. Jesus was reaching towards something in front of him and something in the future and something far off, and this woman was trying to seize the now. She was trying to seize the now.
And she's one, if not the only, person in Scriptures who got healed while Jesus wasn't even looking. He wasn't even looking in her direction. He was reaching to Jairus' daughter's house. He wasn't even looking her way but she was crawling up in behind him and say it's not all about what you're gonna do up there. It's about the things that are gonna happen to you along the way. And she touched. She touched the hem of his garment and when she touched the hem of his garment, she says, "I need something today. I need something right now. I need something in this moment. I need something in this moment right now. I'm running out of blood. I'm running out of strength. I'm running out of time. 'I count not myself to have apprehended,' so I'm gonna try to snatch at what God has for me".
Somebody ought to just snatch at it. I don't have it, so I got to snatch after it. I don't have it, so I gotta pull after it. I don't have it, so I've gotta grope for it, feel after it, crawl after it. I know you got it all together, you don't have to reach for anything, but "I count not myself to have apprehended". So if I have to crawl to get my healing, if I may, if I may, if I may, if I may, but... touch the hem of your... I don't care if you're in Houston or Hong Kong, if you don't start reaching for today, if you don't start reaching for this moment, if we don't get to call the roll and you are present, you will have missed it all.
Maybe your life would be better if you would just be in it sometimes and bring your whole self to it sometimes and throw your everything into it sometimes. And if you would love violently, without limits, with full aggression, without expectation for anything back in return, maybe what's wrong with your life is that you are not there, and you're saving yourself for someday and you're missing today. And this is the day that the Lord hath made. This is the day you ought to rejoice and be glad in. This is the day that God deals with your issues and stops your bleeding and delivers you from the pain. If you have the courage to show up in between, God will show out in between.
"Who, who, who, who, who touched me"? Jesus said, "I am around people who never touch me. They're so busy trying to figure out who's gonna sit on the right and who's gonna sit on the left and who's gonna do the inaugural message and who's gonna be promoted and who this, that I am surrounded by people but I am not being touched and they're asking me when will the kingdom come and when will be the end of the age and when will you restore Israel, when, when, when, when, when? And they're looking to when and missing now.
Until this nameless woman, this broke, nameless, sick woman, this woman who laid out in the hot Palestinian air, bleeding with no air conditioning, this funky woman moved through the crowd with her smelly self, no time to take a bath or refresh herself, and she couldn't fix up herself, and she couldn't prepare herself for an appointment".
She just simply knew that Jesus was passing by and if she didn't have this moment, I don't have time to fix my hair, I don't have time to find my favorite bra, I don't have time to put on my Sunday dress, but if I may, but I know I stink a little bit, but if I may. What we need in the worship service is some funky folks who've been through hell and high water, who will open up their mouth and say, "I'm hurting too bad to worry about what anybody thinks about me. I got some messy stuff and some smelly stuff but if I may but touch". My God, I feel the anointing of the Holy Ghost coming in this place. Tell your neighbor, "Something is about to happen in this place".