Sharp cramps nearly halted me in my tracks yesterday while out on a lovely jog. Even now, as I sit on a kitchen bar stool enjoying the wafting fragrance of the Maple Pancakes candle nearby, a dull ache reminds me that all is not as it should be, not as God originally created. Fears want to take over. “Since the endocrine drugs prescribed by my doctor didn’t work this past month, am I suffering one of the dreaded side effects?” “What if my unexplained, fuzzy diagnosis is incorrect and I’m exacerbating the problem?” “What if God doesn’t heal me now?”
The fears could continue in a long, colorful parade if I allowed them . . .
Self-pity could take up residence in the wake of such a colorful, frightful display . . .
Yet, this morning, I’m placing myself AND my body back in the hands of my Savior who has been bloodied before. He stood at the beginning of creation and called me “good” and “perfect” and “well-knit together.” He stands now at the throne room interceding for my healing, fighting for my wholeness.
Hebrews 12:1-3 faithfully stands as witness to this fact: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (The Message)
Alive. The words on the page. Hebrews 12. “When you find yourself flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item . . . “ His story. The one that has been bloodied before.
“During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples” (Matthew 26:26, The Message)
Item by item . . .Jesus symbolically blessed his own upcoming suffering and breaking, giving himself to those who would both follow him and betray him. He gave thanks for that which would separate him from perfection, but would draw others to the mercy seat.
“They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives” (Matthew 26:30, The Message)
Item by item . . . A worship service in the midst of such horrific pain and betrayal? Jesus knew what was coming. He knew what he was doing. Yet . . . He sang. A hymn. Perhaps similiar to 10,000 reasons recorded by Matt Redman. Words of surrender. Praise. Acknowledgement of God’s ultimate plan.
“Then Jesus told them, ‘Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me.'” (Matthew 26:31, The Message)
Item by item . . . Confirming that only the Heavenly Father would be able to put the pieces back together that were about to be torn. The friendships about to be destroyed. The trust broken. The excruciating physical and emotional torment. Yet . . .The lives about to be saved. The mosaic being crafted. The shards of glass piercing hands and feet bloodied, but being refashioned to tell a beautiful story. The friendships about to be cemented eternally.
“Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, ‘This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.'” (Matthew 26:38, The Message)
Item by item . . . Sorrow crushing. Life bleeding out. Agonizing sorrow. The Savior of the world overwhelmed by the magnitude of God’s plan. Grief cutting the soul. My Savior has been there. My High Priest is not unfamiliar with my pain.
“He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, ‘My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.'” (Matthew 26:42, The Message)
Item by item . . . Not once. Twice. A second time He prayed. I will drink this cup to the dregs. I will not just sip from this grief, this imperfection. I will saturate myself in this sorrow. Your way. Do it Your way. Complete Your work. Make all things beautiful in Your time.
How can I do less? My pain, my grief, my fear is insignificant in the presence of such sacrifice, such surrender, such worship, such acceptance. He’s been there and been bloodied before. How can I turn away?
Item by item . . . I want to see Jesus. I want to be cleansed by the High Priest. I want His will – all of it. I want to sing a hymn of praise even in the garden of grief. Unlike Jesus, I will never be left alone.
As we draw near to Easter, join on me on this journey to the Cross. Let’s experience our Salvation drawing nigh item by item. Send me your prayers, your pain, your experiences with this season, and your stories of Easter traditions. It’s a story that must be tasted, drank, received with thanksgiving, and shared.
*Cross Photo Credit: http://www.youthnow.org/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=249&Itemid=79