Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Greatest Book

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 
John 6:60
A great book should alter the reader in fundamental and eternal ways.  It should canvass the recesses of the human heart, searching for seeds of apathy and inhumanity, then lift the seeds to the surface and rip them out.  It should wound and heal, break and repair, melt and reform. 
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” 
John 6:63
Profound and meaningful truths can never be swallowed with a spoonful of sugar.   They burn our lips, set fire to our bellies, and erupt back out in violent, unexpected ways.  Our bubbles are fragile.  We wrap ourselves with thin, transparent layers of reality and convince ourselves we’re safe.  We sit, bubble after bubble, worried we are going to pop and have to face the pain outside ourselves.  A great book, like an oversized black boot, steps down on the sea of bubbles and crushes our weak shells.  We are exposed.
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with him anymore. 
John 6:66
What we do with our exposure matters.  A great book wounds and heals, breaks and repairs, melts and reforms.  It cannot leave us to reassemble our humanity on our own, cannot leave us melted on the floor in despair.  It must guide us to truth.
The greatest book has unhinged me with every reading, has also wrapped around me during the moments of my greatest sorrow.  It defines humanity in the honest eyes of its creator.  This is who you are.  This is who you should be. 
Father, you’re book is truth and life to me.  You break me, unhinge me, melt me, and wound me.  But if you didn’t I could never be healed and reformed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Devotional 2011

Easter Devotional
And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do you answer nothing?  What is it these men testify against You?  But Jesus kept silent.
Matthew 26:62-63 NKJV

You had balled your hands tightly into fists, your knuckles white and your veins bulging out from your wrists.  Your arms, stiff and tight, hung out from your raised shoulders.  A firm line formed at your mouth, as silent and intense as your fixed gaze.  You were dying and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I could have run to you, shaken your shoulders, and screamed into your ear, “I’m not worth this!”  But it wouldn’t have stopped you.  You would have brushed me off without turning your eyes.

It didn’t matter what they did to you.  They could rip you, bruise you, taunt you, or strike you.  Nothing would make you turn your face away from them.  Nothing would make you cry out in pain because you didn’t want to be remembered as a victim.  No one could make you choose your life over mine. 

I watched you from a distance, wishing I could bury my head in your feet, wanting to lash out at them, needing to stop you from doing this.  I wouldn’t have died for you.  You shouldn’t have died for me.  Your life for mine is such an unfair trade that you should have known better.  Maybe you did.  With your last breaths you showed love to your mother and forgiveness to your tormentors, while I wept knowing the death should have been mine.  The determination in your eyes slipped away to the empty afterglow of life.  Then the cross was also empty and I was alone, and the injustice of it all sank in.  You died.  I lived.

This Easter, when I look up at the empty cross, I will not think about your suffering.  You held back your agonized cries on purpose, unwilling to torment me with your pain.  I will not remember your wounds. Instead, I will meditate on bravery, on the courage it took to die in silence and peace.

Father, someday I will die.  When I do, I pray it is bravely, with my gaze fixed on your face.