Along Came You

You.

I know You. Yes. Yes, You. Many years ago, we had a pretty loaded encounter. There I was, minding my own business, trying to make friends and make something of my life, and there You came, barreling through the titanium fence I thought I securely erected around that fragile heart of mine, and ruined all of my plans. Note to self: walls of titanium probably would’ve been a better way to go.

But would that have kept You out? No, I don’t suppose it would’ve. Even if it did, I suppose all You would’ve had to do was knock. And knock. And knock again. Because it was You, I would’ve opened a door sooner or later. Is that what we call fate?

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, barreling through my fence and ruining my life. Hey hey, I know what I said. But my plans were my life! Remember the mess You made? Pieces of my fence scattered and strewn everywhere? Pride, loneliness, courage, fear, stubbornness… all littered across my yard.

And then, what did You do? You dusted Yourself off, fixed Your shirt, pushed the hair off Your face, and waltzed right across my ruined yard and… KNOCKED!

What kind of Person were You? First, You barged into my life, and then You KNOCKED? You turned my world upside-down, inside-out, and every-whichever-way it could else be turned, and then You asked if I’m home? To what, have a cup of tea? And… what was that? I couldn’t quite hear over the drumming in my ears from the blood rushing to my brain and the erratic pounding in my chest where I swore held a normal heart seconds ago.

But I was curious about You.

So as any good detective (or curious girl) would do, I set out to find You out. After all, who would open the door to an absolute stranger? Scratch that, I suppose we do it all the time. But that’s beside the point. So how was I going to find out who You were, then? By executing the Ancient Chinese art of placing my ear against the door and eavesdropping.

You called Yourself the Light of the world, and You called me salt. Salt. Salt? Really? Are You really trying to win my heart by calling me SALT? And then You kept going! You told me that I needed You. Yeah, You’re really winning points with me. Seriously, have you done this before and had it work? You told me that I was clay and that You were my Potter. Of all the—what?

I’m a SHEEP now?

And then You told me that You died for me.

Died? But weren’t You on the other side of my door calling me a fluffy animal and making me all sorts of confused as to how I could possibly handle opening the door for You? You kept going then, told me why You came. “I came to save you, you see, because I wanted you with me.” All right, this is more like it. I’m listening.

You kept talking about who You were – the Son of God – that You came to be like us except in one way: You were blameless and would remain so to the end. So then, why did You die? And what did You mean, for me?

And, like having read my mind, You told me I was a sinner. Hm. I wonder why I’m not as offended by that one? Isn’t being called a sinner worse than being called a dumb animal? Well, I suppose they’re both bad, and – wait, what’s going on here?

You told me that the only way I could be with You was with Your help. And so You died to give me that key. But wait. You’re the Son of God, right? You don’t need me. So why did You have to go all the way to death for me?

“That’s easy: because I love you!”

What was that about an erratic pounding in my chest? Hoo, there it was again! And what was this? A drop of water on my hand? Was my roof leaking? Should I have laced it with titanium, too? No, wait, these – wha– tears! Ah, my face was full of them! But how could I not cry? You just told me You loved me enough to die for me even though You didn’t have to, even though I was the one who screwed up in the first place.

Still, I was hesitant to open the door. What if I get hurt again?

Knock.

What would others say?

Knock.

What if it’s too good to be true?

Knock again.

And eventually, because it was You, I opened the door.

And You infiltrated my heart and made me Your bride.

Jesus Christ, the greatest ninja of all time.

You. Yes, You.

I know You.

I love You.

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The Man Who Waited

There once lived a man who loved his sons very much. He was a wealthy man, lacking in nothing, who owned land and livestock and could provide for his family and all who served him. Everyone loved the man dearly. He worked hard every single day alongside his servants, doing the same work and more. When they were old enough, the boys began working the fields with their father. As a father and as a man, he couldn’t have been any prouder than to have these two as his sons.

Then one day, his second-born – a man still very much a boy in every respect – boldly approached the man and demanded his share of the inheritance that would one day be his. The servants murmured in hushed tones about this interaction: the blatant disrespect, the selfishness, the unspoken wish and curse.

The man, however, looked at his son with kind, sad eyes. The man knew his boys, and the child standing before him knew nothing of economics and business and moneyhandling. No, all had been given to him from the beginning, and he knew little of responsibility. But the man loved his son deeply and held hope that he would one day become a respectable and honorable man that no one could speak poorly of. Without hesitation, the man divided his land – his only investment – and gave the deed to his boy. As the boy ran off to sell his land that his father worked and tilled for so many years, the father stood in one place and watched his baby boy until he could see him no longer. And then he went back to work.

The next morning, the man ate his breakfast, pat his older son on the shoulder, and went back to the same spot where he bid farewell to his youngest. There he stood for several moments, staring intently toward the direction his son ran off yesterday. The last thing he had seen of his boy was his back, straight and unwavering; he never looked back.

Everyday the man did this. Even when he was in the field, his eyes always drew toward that path where his son chose to carve out his future.

The servants had begun to whisper amongst themselves regarding their master’s routine. “What a loving father,” some said. “What a deranged fool,” commented others. “No matter what, he was his son,” yet more added.

The man’s older son, however, had very little to say. Instead, his eyes grew colder and colder day by day as he watched his father – the honorable, powerful man whom he had tried his entire life to please – pine pathetically for that worthless brother of his. Having abandoned his work and his kin, the younger boy no longer held any part of his brother’s heart.

Still the man continued to wait. Day after day, he waited. Though he grew weary, he always waited. Some mornings were more difficult than others in getting started and moving about. “Master, why not rest today?” his servants would say. “Master, today will be like yesterday and the day before and the days before that.” To each, the man would smile politely and, with hope sparkling deep in the apples of his eyes, he would answer, “But today is today. It is not yesterday or the day before or the days before that. Today could be the day. Today I could be welcoming him home.” And the man continued to wait.

Days continued to pass, and even the servants had grown weary. The man’s labor had begun to take a toll on him. On a particularly difficult morning, a servant said, “Master, you have been working from sunrise to sunset. Why not rest a little longer today or even just leave everything to us?” However, like always, the man smiled and shook his head. “Today could be the day,” he answered as he and his servant left to begin the day. They walked toward the spot he had stood every morning since that fateful day. “Today, I could be welcoming him home.”

As he glanced toward the horizon, the man’s usual joyful face beamed and erupted into a smile that rooted itself in his very soul.

And, his body forgetting its fatigue, he took off in a sprint as the wind carried his deep full laughter toward the fields.

The Ballad of St. Augustine

A good man was living here; virtuous evidence has all but disappeared

Why is it so easy to forget what grace is? And so easy to wallow in our guilt for as long as we can? When we choose guilt, we deny grace. The two are mutually exclusive. That’s not to say we should never feel remorse when we sin, but once it hits, we have the choice to repent and move forward – time stops for no one after all – or we can sit and punish ourselves the way we think we deserve to be punished and let life and joy pass us by – time stops for no one after all.

Right was wrong when wrong went right

Why do we step into the position of judge when we were never meant to fill those shoes? Our place is in the seat of the defendant with Law as our prosecutor and Jesus as our counselor. The judgment seat belongs to One only, and He has already pardoned us.

The key is in my hand but I’m frozen

Guilt has a way of making us forget that the key to our shackles is in our hand. Or worse, it makes us believe we deserve to be in chains and that using the key would be much too easy. No, we need to pay good and hard for our sin. We do not deserve to be in God’s presence, and so we do Him a favor and remove ourselves from it – all the while, leaving us vulnerable and making us weaker with each passing moment.

The air is leaving here; It’s getting hard to breathe, I’m choking

And the key continues to rest firmly in our grasp; we can use it anytime. So lost in our guilt, the key seems to begin taunting us with the words “free” and “innocent” and “paid for.”

And I know that I need saving, can You save me?

But this is grace, isn’t it? The Gospel isn’t for saving perfect people because perfect people don’t need saving. The Gospel came for the screw-ups etched in God’s image. The proclamation of our freedom signed by the Father, sealed by the Spirit, and delivered by the Son. Who are we to argue with that.

Welcome back, my innocence. How I have so longed to see your face again.

1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The key is in my hand.

You’re washing me, branding me with grace.

Innocence reborn.

(The Ballad of St. Augustine is a song by Disciple. Find them at http://www.disciplerocks.com)