I heard the Oscar Wilde quote in a song this morning on my way to our Easter service.
In the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life, I happen to find myself more down than up, lately—emotionally. But that’s okay this time around. I know I’m gaining ground spiritually. I’m sucking the marrow out of whatever the season is serving up as a side dish. Finding it’s even possible to be joyful and hopeful when I’m not particularly happy; when some circumstances loom like dark destroyer clouds ready to drop their bombs.
But the sap of my life runs from a profound place where nothing can touch it. Like God promised, I am becoming a tree planted by a stream that does not wither in times of drought.
When Jesus called I answered. When it was time to seek, I sought. And though I sometimes stumble, I have turned where He’s asked me to… because He made it possible.
Often I feel alone. Faith is not fun when the world’s chill beats at your best intentions and hammers down on your resolve. This graveyard of dead trees is haunting and unkind.
But deep within, where the riches of His kindness and grace have hewed out a sparkling spring, I drink deeply.
My roots have ravished the soil in their desperate quest to stay alive. Years without much sunshine; harsh winds, storms and winter chill have forced them down to places I never knew existed, and I feel each tendril wrapping itself around the Rock of Ages with all its might.
This saint has a past. A past that howls through those barren trees in a tormenting mockery of the way things should have been. It curls its spiny tendrils around the dry twigs of my regrets and snaps my feeble dreams in two. It reminds me that so much of my desolation is my own fault; rubs my nose in the reality of how my wrong choices have hurt others. It wants me to stay frozen in the winter of its torment for good.
But, oh, this sinner has a future!
It springs from within—no matter if the sun is shining or the storms are rolling on. Or even if I don’t live up to my own expectations. It splits the deafening silence with the loud laughter of everlasting life, bellowing assurances carved into all creation from before the foundation of the earth.
It shouts, ‘Forgiven!’ It resonates, ‘Paid in Full!’ It burns away the chaff of winter’s wicked taunts in the unquenchable passion of His mercy.
How timely our last Beth Moore Bible study lesson happened to coincide with Easter. A few weeks back we wrote down the personal, besetting sins that have troubled us and each took our turn nailing them to the cross.
The object lesson tore into my soul like lightning striking sand, melding and transforming it permanently into something beautiful. I had never sensed, so deeply, my own guilt—not anybody else’s; mine—that crucified Jesus. My sins He took on that cross. I think the recurring revelation will still lacerate the memory of my pride and rejuvenate my gratitude a million years from now, whenever I see the scars that testify of a Saviour-God Whose Holy justice could only be avenged by His own unrelenting love.
Yes, this sinner has a past I can’t deny,
and a future I cannot wait to embrace.
As a believer, I love the Easter season. As a not-so ‘politically correct’ Christian I’m not so much into chocolate bunnies and eggs. Let me rephrase that: may it not even be imagined that I might be trashing chocolate in any of its many mouth-watering amalgamations–it’s just that they have no significant meaning for me in relation to having my sins forgiven and my life restored. Although, a therapeutic dose of chocolate goes a long way in alleviating many an ill. Isn’t that a proverb somewhere?
I also don’t expect most people to ‘get it’ the way I do. It’s up close and personal for me. You can’t really appreciate an oasis till you’ve been wandering around in the desert dying of thirst for a while.
As someone who really does believe the resurrection message I don’t think there could be a bigger picture of people coming face to face with Jesus, for the first time, in a tangible telling way than that of the two men crucified beside him.
Like most of us, they mocked at first. So much for a ‘no show’ God who never bothers to make an appearance when I need him most. What has God ever done for me? There was no reason for pretenses here. And yet, one man’s heart softened and repented, while the other’s was filled with disdain and loathing.
The rest were nowhere near comprehending this. Some were just in the crowd watching with genuine curiosity; even compassion. Some were walking right on by, and some were forced a little nearer than they wanted to be–like the man who was made to carry the cross.
Perhaps, like the two thieves, the most critical place to get to is ‘face to face’ with the cross and our own undoing. No more excuses, no escape plans, not even the remotest possibility of earning any favor. Just the opportunity to accept it . . . or not.
two men out of borrowed time
walk the green line, fulminate
railing bane on spittle chime
gawking crowds who love to hate
two men feel the twisted ropes
that tear through flesh and raucous screams
two asphyxiating hopes
sucking marrow from their dreams
two men who never learned to live
now required of them to die
raging criminals must give
payment for their crime
two hurl insults spewing hate
at a callous stolid god
his failure to abet, berate
the acrimonious swift rod
two are raised to hang and thresh
as silent from the ground is lifted
the hideous, grisly, shocking flesh
crusted, bleeding, seeping, sifted
and one would see a lunatic
and one Divine descent
one a monstrous casualty
and one the offering rent
one would damn an impotent being
and ask what of his claim
and one with comprehending seeing
would hang his head in shame
one would see in blood’s reflection
the filth encrusted deep
and hear in anguish’s inflection
pardon for depravity
and one would leave this cold world railing
not see the crimson ransom, dear
nor comprehend salvation’s failing
as the Father’s coming near
but one would suckle mercy’s breast
born of faith’s unfailing womb
and carried to eternal rest
be spared for ages come, the tomb