I wasn't going to go last night...
I was running late... my hair was a mess... and I was putting on make-up and drinking a Dr. Pepper in between stop lights. My van was still full of the laundry I'd spent the day doing (we don't have a washer right now) piled high in baskets. The service started at 7pm. and I hadn't gotten home until 6:50. I fed the dog, took her out, put on a clean shirt that I realized didn't fit.... thought about just staying home... put on a different shirt with some sandals and ran out the door. Something told me I needed to go.
When I entered the sanctuary the service had already started. It was dark... lit only by candlelight.
It was beautiful... the entire service... breathtaking really. The words spoken... words about redemption... words about love that reached out and bridged the biggest gap we've ever known... words about radical living and the foolishness of the cross. The songs that were sung... songs of how our ashes have been turned into beauty... songs about the road of death He walked so we'd never have to... songs about the price He paid because of love...
At the altar lay wine and bread... and I watched in silent awe as slowly people began to get up... walk to the alter... and fall to their knees.... and remember. A body broken... blood shed... a veil torn... so that we in our sin and our shame and our failure might see a glimpse of His face... might know His heart for His people.
I could barely breathe as I watched a young father walk to the altar with his son. They knelt together before their God... the father with his arm around his son. And suddenly tears spilled down my face....
How did it feel to give your son for us that would reject you... us that would fail and run and compromise? Did your heart break as his blood spilled and the mockers taunted? Did images of his life run through your mind? Did you weep at His suffering?
I sat in that sanctuary... watching that father... feeling my own child kick and move within me...
Lord how did she feel when she watched the nails pierce His hands? Did her heart break as she saw the child she'd carried... the child she'd raised... the child she'd loved... give His life for those who didn't understand? Did all of the moments she'd pondered in her heart come flooding back into tears of grief as she watched the life of her son slip away?
I thought of the last few months and how much we love our daughter... a sweet baby girl who we haven't even brought into this world yet. I thought of how hard we've fought... how hard we've prayed... how we've cried... how we've hoped... how we've dreamed for her life. How, even now, I couldn't even imagine loosing her.
I was one of the last to make my way to the altar. And as I knelt before Him the moments that I have pondered in my heart... the ones that have made up my life with Him... the ones that have made my life. They all came back.
The night I lay on a cold basement floor and told Him I loved Him... the night I told Him I didn't know much about the bible and there was much of life I didn't understand. I knew only that this life was hard and that there was a huge hole in my heart.
The moment I felt that hole in my heart heal. I remember weeping because I'd never felt so alive.
The old gravel road I walked those days after I first gave my heart to Him and all the things we talked about... all the dreams I laid before Him.
The first time I knelt before an altar... much like the one before me at that moment... and fully realized what He gave.
The moment I held a starving baby and realized how deeply He loves and how desperately He aches for His own.
All of my broken promises... every time I ran... every time I made Him smaller than He was...
All of the moments I've beheld him... known Him... felt Him... the moments I have stood on Holy Ground. The moments I've known the sacred amidst the common and the holy amidst the profane.
Every middle of the night conversation... the moment I was able to stand at my brother's grave and not be angry anymore... walking down the aisle to marry Micaiah... sitting underneath a blanket of African stars wondering what was to come... Margy and I praying the first day I came to work at Grace Refuge... the ways those kids have brought me to my knees... The moment I stood in one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all the world and realized He did not dwell there. The people I've met whose hearts have given me glances into where He truly lives.
The tears continued to fall as I took the bread and the cup.
Again she moved within me.
And I lost all words. There are none. None that would be enough to thank Him... to describe Him... to describe this love that has ebbed it's way into my life. There are no words for what He has been nor what He has done. I am a woman of many flaws and many failures. I love imperfectly and I live imperfectly... and my faith, at times, feels so much smaller than a mustard seed. I've never made a mountain move. I've never walked on water. I'm the one who would have doubted and asked to see the marks in His hands... I'm the one that would have denied Him three times... I'm that disciple. I'm that woman... the one who deserves the stones to be thrown. The one who has no business washing the feet of her Jesus. I'm the one who has a hard time forgiving once let alone 77 times 7. I'm the one who has yelled "Why?" I've denied Him, walked away from Him, been unfaithful to Him.
I got a letter from a friend I haven't talked to for a long time. She told me she'd been reading this blog and that it seems "your faith has really gotten you through all of this".
I'm a ye of little faith. If this whole thing were up to me I wouldn't be sitting here... writing this. I'm here because He reached when I ran... He kept knocking when I refused to answer.... He continued to speak even when I'd stopped listening. He continued to pursue even when I pushed Him away. He forgave long before I could forgive myself. He was the one whose love broke this cold cold heart. He was the one who gave songs in the night. He was the one I felt beside me through every step of this broken road. When the lights went out... He's the one who held my hand and walked me through it. If it had been up to theology I wouldn't be here. If it had been about following rules and reading enough devotions I wouldn't be here. If there was a prayer quota or a good works assessment I wouldn't be here. If it was up to showing up on Sunday and serving on church committees I wouldn't be here. I'm here because one night... on a basement floor... he filled the hole in my heart... and at that moment there was really no way I could deny He was real. The night love flooded my life and I came alive... that's how I'm still here. Because He's held me in this place since the very first day I decided I didn't want to do life on my own.
He's the one whose gotten me through all of this. This life, my sin, my shame, the unknown places, the secret spaces, the hard edges of my heart.
Finally after drinking the cup... the words came as I placed my hand over my sweet baby girl...
"I will not forget what you did. I will not forget this love. Jesus I'll tell her of this love......"
"He died that we might have life... and have it to the full."-John 10:10
I'll tell her of the Jesus who gave her mommy a new heart and a beautiful love.
Much Love and a very Happy Easter to you all,