I have a friend who could have been a great pastor, but he spent his professional life as a machinist instead.
He never went to seminary, barely made it through high school.
The Navy was going to straighten him out, but it didn’t.
After his stint, he devoted himself to drugs. He was good at it. He could do his job high, binge on the weekends and show up on Monday morning.
Until he couldn’t.
Then, wasted and dying, love found him and anointed him. After 20 years of sobriety, he still goes to meetings.
He puts this resume to effective use, working among the recovering and the unrepaired.
He seeks out the desperate, befriends them, feeds them, hugs them and prays with them.
The other day, we were talking about someone we knew — a good guy who got hooked, made a bunch of poor decisions, and spent most of his adult life in prison.
This guy was often on the verge of making it, but temptation was always stronger than intention.
My friend had been spending time with him and was hoping that this might finally be his breakthrough.
Then the guy relapsed, lied to my friend and used him. It broke my friend’s heart.
After telling me the story, my friend said something I hope I will never forget: “Behind our tears we find our treasure.”
At first blush, that’s not too insightful. We’ve all shed tears at the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or the struggles of someone close to us.
Those tears reveal, not only the depth of pain but how much we cherish another in our life.
But my friend was talking about something different. Examining his tears, he found that he was sad because he had been mistreated, his friendship had been rejected and his kindness abused.
His treasure, he found behind those tears, was all about himself.
That’s only human. But my friend feels called to a more perfect love, a love like that of Jesus, focused on the other to the point that we accept, and even expect, our own vulnerability.
My friend does not regret the tears, but he wants them shed for the other man’s weakness, for his loss of another chance for healing and wholeness.
We’d all do well to search our inevitable tears. It might surprise us, certainly instruct us, and quite possibly change us.
What treasures lie behind your tears?