It’s been an interesting few days. Where 24 hours can feel like a week – blasting the caverns of your fears into glaring light. One bad day carrying the weight of a skyscraper’s worth of crumbled pylons.
In humor not lost on me, as I type these very words, my Sergey Rachmaninov pandora station decides to play the Chaplin Film Score by John Barry. [Originally an instrumental song for one of Charlie Chaplin’s films in 1936, a lyric version released in 1954 through songwriters John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Nat King Cole’s version is my favorite, released the same year.]
If you’ve never heard the Charlie Chaplin inspired song “Smile”, 1) you’re missing out, 2) listen now, 3) if you know of my “interesting days”, you’ll grin in knowing how beautifully perfect it is, this lullaby of subtle timing.
….I get distracted easily. Distracted from that which I desire to dwell on. Distracted by all that I wish I never lingered upon.
All I want this week, is to spend time meditating on this Holy series of events – from Palm Sunday to Easter – bathing in the awareness of what His actions did, what The Father’s choice did, how they transform my every day of living.
Yet my flesh is inattentive to beauty
when there’s so much ugly to notice.
But even that – that practice – is birthed from a force determined to win victories in this world.
The lurker who sends his warrior Distraction, and his warrior Doubt, and the conniving Self-Pity
to muddle up and occupy my thoughts –
to produce all forms of anguish – any emotion that will overshadow the reflections of Glory and Freedom to which I am already promised and delivered into.
Because if I wanted to make this week somehow about me, I could.
I have that much pride surging in me – as the crowd at the feet of Pilate – that I could turn it all into a way to glorify my ability to see “right and wrong” and determine how I think it should all play out.
I have a scaring ability to make something about me, when it was never intended to be.
Words of another.
Perceived thoughts and opinions.
A series of actions to which I can rabbit-hole down a spiral of explanation, assured I’m somehow to blame.
A genuine mistake of mine that means nothing. Literally nothing. Which I will take and contort
and manipulate to spew vile threats into my worth – squelching any hope or rescue of change.
Cringe is a word that doesn’t even begin to describe the shamed reaction to such confessions of behavior. And there is more
. So much more. But airing my laundry isn’t my purpose, nor will it serve the point which I intend to highlight. (In fact, it’ll only do the opposite, adding to the enemy’s side in the war of focus waged so heavily each day.)
I am such a weak prize – why either side would pursue for victory is a mystery.
But then truth comes after the languish. The clarity of reality over perception.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.“
1 Peter 5:6-10
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-17
“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one dies for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.“
2 Corinthians 5: 14-15, 17-19, 21
And so much more…
There are promises among promises – that make a joyful noise above all other clamor a heart can bear.
It is to these truths, the only lasting truths, that I must cling to. Repeat. Devour continually – so that my appetite can no longer be fed the poisonous lies of discontent and shame – of failure and defeat.
Because I cannot stop falling back at the feet of this declaration of certainty: “in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
And what I’ve reprimanded to myself so many times when reading these verses, is that the “nor any other created thing” is speaking, too, of my very self.
So try as I may, whether consciously or unconsciously, to separate myself from Him through shame or fear – try as I may to convince myself that I’m not good enough to be under grace – that I’m too twisted in my shackles, that I’m too much to bear on the shoulders of the Body or His cross – that I’m better left in the street, naked and bleeding and robbed of all that makes me a person…try as I may to believe this and worse: to convince others of these adjectives and more, I cannot succeed. I am part of that list – I am part of that nothing which is named capable of severing me from His fold of Love and redemption.
I cannot do it. No matter what I scream. No matter how many layers of chains I squeeze myself
back into. No matter if my rants work on some, or if they work on me more days than not – they will never work on him
. Ever. Not one millisecond will pass where He second-guesses the spilling of His blood for the transformation of mine. He has every right to strike me mute from all the squabbling I can conjure. Yet somehow, His patience with my rebellion is astounding. Filled with soothe and grace and battle-ready, offense-appointed truth. He comes to me, on my fallen knees and downcast eyes and whispers ‘Rise’. Showing me that what I seek is right in front of me. (John 20:10-16)
So by writing it out and reading it plenty and speaking it forth and eyes drawn shut in absorption – I can choose what to hear. I can choose what to speak. I can choose what to believe. Because of the cross, I am free to choose.
Because He chose that sunset
on a mountain of skulls and brokenness.
Because He chose me.
Because He left more than rags in the empty tomb that morning: He left my insufficiency.
And He picked up my worth, He declared me treasure, He ascended on High, where He waits for me.
He finished the striving so I could be still.
I may constantly see my weakness, but praise Adonai that His power is made perfect in such vision. If I must continue to see my own sin in order than I can better understand His grace, mercy and character – then I shall plant myself down with eyes attentive.