After sharing this with my dad today, I decided to pass it on.
My entire faith has been sprinkled with images. When I was younger and I would pray, I would be able to see myself curl up in God’s lap. I never saw God himself, and it’s not something I could ever describe or draw.. but it was real. After my faith weakened and I wandered away, I found myself on my face crying out to God to just let me see him again in that same way.. and all I saw were his feet. It was different, but he was graceful in showing me that HE is graceful and loves me.
Whenever I pray concerning the cross, I am at the foot of the cross, bowing in adoration of my broken Savior, willing to take on the sins of the world so that we can be restored to a right relationship with God. It’s not the most comfortable place to be, and it’s not necessarily a place I LIKE to imagine myself, but it seems appropriate.
This past Sunday we shared communion at church. Ever since Good Friday last year, communion has been something I take very seriously. As I was praying over the bread held between my fingers, I got this image of Jesus stumbling down a gauntlet of people, bloody and beaten and exhausted. His life. The bread signifies his life, and in my head I was seeing Jesus carrying his life to death. Then I realized that I was seeing it from the crowd. and I was bloodthirsty. I wanted his blood spilled out on the ground, to see him suffer and die and pay for whatever wrongs he had committed. My face was angry and mocking and full of hatred.
I quickly began to pray that the Lord remove this from my head, so I could properly focus on the life of Christ. No distractions, just the life of Jesus. but it wouldn’t go away. I was stuck in this thought, whether my eyes were open or closed, of me standing in the crowd, wanting to see my precious Jesus die.
Tears began falling out of my eyes and we passed around the little tiny cup of juice – Christ’s death. SURELY, I thought, the Lord will bring me back to the foot of the cross, the place of his death, the place that now seemed so inappropriately comfortable. But God does not roll like that, he rarely sacrifices hard reality for my own selfish comfort (and that makes me glad). Instead, as I saw myself in the crowd, unable to get myself to shut my mouth (reality!) or turn my eyes.. I saw Jesus look at me. My broken Savior, the one I suddenly wanted to suffer, looked at me through the crowd. and in the madness, the chaos, the hatred, his eyes gleaming with a mixture of love and sadness, he said “Stephanie.”
And I was done. I was no longer experiencing a dripping of tears, I was experiencing a downpour. My Jesus, despite my position, looked at me, knew my name, spoke it, and continued to willingly go to the cross. With no regrets. Just love.
It was then that I found myself again at the feet of the cross, an image that never again will be comfortable or cliche or safe. I was screaming, crying, lifting up more bloodthirsty screams. Different ones. Ones filled with love, with adoration, with desperation. I wanted that blood poured all over me.. I wanted to be drenched in it, to feel it in my ears and dripping on my nose and matting down my hair. The blood that we so casually say washes us clean. I needed to feel it all over me, redeeming me and making me righteous before the Lord. as my life was being justified, the Lamb’s was being sacrificed. And he wanted it that way.
As I was sharing this with my dad this morning, I started weeping again, and I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t sobbing as I write this.
How could he do that for me? It’s so easy to hide behind “the sins of the world” as pretend like he died for people who murder or steal or rape people or hate people.. and that because his grace is SO gracious, my sins kind of get wiped out in the deal. But he died for MY sin. and my sins. It wasn’t like a birthday party, where you get to eat a piece of cake because it’s someone else’s birthday.. the cake is for someone and you just get to enjoy it. It was a cupcake with my name written on it, just for me.
I used to pride myself in being strong. In my life, I’ve seen a lot of hurt and it used to take a lot to get me to cry. but then I started encountering Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Now I cry all the time. The more I realize the goodness of the Lord, the less worthy I feel of it, and the more it grieves me to disobey. The more it hurts to fall in love with Jesus and realize that he died for me.
Praise the Lord that he heard my cries for blood and answered it in a way I never imagined.
Jesus, Lamb of God, You are my redemption. I love you.