Sunday, April 17, 2011
I continue to think that Spring is right around the corner, and yet we're predicted to have 1-3 inches of snow this fine evening. At least, as my dad pointed out, it will make the mushrooms easier to find when they stick up out of the snow instead of out of the leaves. He's a silver-lining kind of guy, my dad.
Today we attended the Palm Sunday services at Granger Community Church. It was a very heartfelt message by our senior pastor, Mark Beeson. I'm looking forward to the Easter services next weekend, but he encouraged us not to bypass this particular week. This is the week where we tend to jump to the happy ending of the story, the resurrection of Jesus, and bury the worst part of the week, where the tension built and the betrayal happened and the suffering began. I can relate to this, actually. My life is filled with tension, I've both been betrayed and been the betrayer, and I've done quite a bit of suffering and caused others to suffer. These past few days I've been through just a light bit of hell with friends and family who are suffering with loss of loved ones, found out a good friend was left by his wife just a couple of days before his birthday, lost another good friend of my own... but is that anything compared to the suffering of our Savior on this earth? Is that anything compared to the horrific humiliation, torturing, brutality, and crucifixion he braved so that I could have a second chance?
I never used to take it personally. Oh, I would take all KINDS of other things personally: insults, sarcasm, people who were randomly laughing when I was in the room, I assumed it was about me. Critiques, peer pressure, snide remarks. I took all of these things personally. But the death of Christ? Nope. I removed myself from it. A piece of history, didn't affect me at all. But now? Now it affects me every day of my life. The way I take it personally is this: if I were the only one who fell, the only one to ever sin, the only one to go the wrong way on a clearly marked path, the one who ate the forbidden fruit (though that's unlikely, so why don't we call it the forbidden chocolate to make it more realistic in Stephanie's life?), the only one to do something foolhardy or selfish, the only one to disappoint God... if I were the ONLY one in the history of humankind ever to do something like that, Jesus still would have come down from Heaven and suffered and endured what he did so that I would have a second chance. I believe that with all my heart. Why?
Because that's what Love does. When it's said that "God is Love", that's not just some random cliche. God is the incarnation, the embodiment, the quintessence of love. He created the entire notion of love. He gave the ultimate sacrificial love on the cross. And it's precisely that sort of selflessness that I seek to embody. I'm on a journey to rid myself of all of the chattel. Baggage, you know? Material things: not important. Money: not important. Headlines: not important. My agenda: not important. It's rough, don't get me wrong, and I fail miserably every single day of my life, more than once or twice a day, mind you. But I look at a Love like that, and I don't have to think "I want to be loved like that" because I know I already am. I have to think only one thing:
I WANT TO LOVE LIKE THAT.
It's not easy. Just like I fail every day, everyone else fails everyday, too. Just like I'm hard to love, EVERYONE is hard to love. People are jerks. Every last one of us. We're selfish, we're strong-willed, we're out for #1, and we want what we want when we want it. It's tedious, this attempt to love. Most of the time I'm exhausted of even trying by 7:30 in the morning, after the fourth person has already been rude to me at the coffee shop. I can't imagine how God must feel loving every single one of us all the time right where we are. And he doesn't just TRY to love us ... he LOVES us.
Every single one of us.
All the time.
Right where we are.
Kind of makes you want to take it personally, doesn't it?