Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Far Better Things

I'm sure I've mentioned that winter is by far my favorite season. But, this spring has been...different. The colors seem sharper than I remember; the days cooler. Everything is more vivid. It's hard to explain, but it's as though I'm looking back on everything, as opposed to experiencing it in the present. 

Perhaps it's because this is my last year at home for awhile. Maybe I'm unconsciously trying to remember everything --my brother's hugs, Muv's (My affectionate term for my mother; "love" and "mom" mixed up) smile, Daddy's laughter, my cat's fur, the lavender brick on our house, the lovely, smiling faces of my church family, and even the ever-present Wyoming wind. Every color, every word, every song, every smile, every tear. It will never be like this again. Things are changing, and I cannot stop it --though I'm not certain I want to. 

C.S. Lewis wrote: 
"There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind." 

Better than all this? Oh, yes. I am in Christ. And in Christ, every day is a crescendo of promise. C.S. Lewis also wrote, "Further up, Further in!" and that is what each day is bound, sworn, assured, to be. It's a bit like my thermos of tea. No matter how often I shake it, the sugar always settles to the bottom, and the last sip is always the sweetest. Tomorrow will be better than today. It may be harder, it may feel longer, I might ache deeper, but... for those in Christ, each day brings us a moment closer to Him. What more could I desire of life? 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Cost

Yesterday evening, I was praying for a certain friend. I was praying that no pride would be allowed to remain in His life. I didn't pray this specifically because I have seen pride in him, but rather because I have suffered so much from it myself. I prayed that this friend would "cast himself fully on the grace and cross of Jesus alone", and suddenly, Is 53 popped into my head. 

"All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned 
every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." 

An image burst upon me, of my sin being laid upon Him. It's as though He stood by my side before the Father. He ought to have been seated at the right hand of Majesty on High, with me kneeling before His Mighty Presence. His glory ought to have been the holy proof of my guilt. But He, who is all Light and Loveliness, stepped down from His throne, and knelt beside me --me! Who He ought to have hated and despised. Who He had every right to crush under His feet. Whose presence should have been vile to Him. But, down on His knees before His Father He went, and, when He opened His mouth, He spoke these words. "Abba, it was I who spoke those vile words. It was I who looked upon those dreadful scenes. It was I who allowed such bitterness into my heart. It was I who entertained those lustful thoughts. It was I who answered my authority so scornfully. It was I who stole and murdered. It was I who lifted a hand against my friend. It was I who shamelessly lied. It was I… It was I…. It was I... " 

And finally… "Father, hold her guiltless. It was I." 

And thus, my every sin was laid upon Him. My iniquity was branded upon Jesus Christ the Righteous. I received life, as His was quenched. There was no equality on that day for the Righteous One; it was no fair trade. It was Love. Pure, blessed, eternal Love. 

May I never forget the cost. May I never lose the wonder that takes my breath away. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Laundry Room Musings: Guilt and Psalm 130

We need a new washing machine. Something is a bit "off" with our current one. You see, it moves. When it's on the spin cycle, it hops across the floor in an odd little dance all its own. It's rather an undesirable characteristic. However, we've discovered that if one sits atop this temperamental old machine while it runs, it stays obediently in its assigned position. So, perched atop the washing machine, the laundry room is becoming a lovely place to study Jesus.

(*This is not my Laundry room. I rather wish it was, however)

I have a feeling that this is rather odd, but laundry rooms have become a special place for me. It started when I was a student at Ellerslie; nearly all of my study and prayer time (and the occasional emotional breakdown) took place in the laundry room on the first floor of the 300 (Elliot) wing. At first, this was because there simply wasn't another place that was secluded and warm enough (I was there October-December) to study. But it soon became the ideal place to meet with the Lover of souls. The laundry room here at home is becoming just as special.

Today, as I sat upon the washing machine, I felt particularly in need of the soothing touch of my Father. I freely admit that my heart, except for the Spirit's breath, is filled only with cowardice, uncertainty, trepidation, and the dreadful darkness of sin. I need much affirmation, and much reassurance --of the sort that only Jesus can provide; words from earth generally only increase my agony.

Can you remember being a very little child? For those of us who weren't perfect children, I imagine that there were times when our mothers or fathers would tell us to keep away from something, so as to avoid injury. And before we knew it, something along the lines of, "I promise I won't get hurt. I can handle that," rolled haughtily off our tongues.  But, when we went ahead and did 'that', we found that it caused a nasty injury after all. And, do you know, the fact that we were warned makes the ache twice as deep. It adds guilt to injury. And, perhaps, it may keep us from running to the only one who can help --our parents. They are the ones that have what we need: correction, a loving hug, and the things our wounds need for healing. But we wait for as long as we possibly can endure the pain, because we know that rejection, or anger, from the ones we need most are more terrible than the pain we already feel.

This is quite how I felt this morning. The Lord had warned me of the trap, and I stuck my foot in it anyway. I had promised the Lord that "this" wouldn't happen, and that I would never do "that" again --and all my promises had been blown away by the gentlest winds of opposition. My guilt was far worse than the pain of the wrong itself. So, just like a child with an injury, I stumbled miserably up to the Throne of Grace, full of shame and guilt from failures, all the while knowing that healing existed no where else...and fearful that it wouldn't be granted to one so unworthy.

Do you know how He greeted me? With this...

"Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice; let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning; I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." Psalm 130

'Plenteous' redemption. There is mercy with the Lord. He redeems from all iniquities. He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. A broken and contrite heart He will not despise. It is of His mercies that we are not consumed. ... Great is His faithfulness

As time passes, I find that my promises to Him aren't reliable. It's His promises to me that I can build things on. I am full of weakness, and cowardice, and inability; my very best intentions will always fail. He is the One who cannot lie. He is the One with strength. He is the One who offers freedom and victory --only Him. 

Guilt will whisper lies. "You're not yet sorry enough," "No one else could have possibly stumbled the way you did," "He cannot forgive such willful sin." But these whisperings are just that --lies. There is no help to be found in guilt. Guilt cannot free my soul from the tyranny of sin. Guilt has no power to overcome. I cannot ever "feel bad enough" for my sin to finally be rid of it. Only the death of my body on the Cross of Christ can avail for the freedom of my soul. Guilt must be put off, if Jesus is to reign. 

Oh Abba, I pray that you would banish guilt forever from our souls, and instead deposit within these hearts the holy hatred for sin that beats within Your own chest! May our loathing for our darkness come not from looking despairingly within, but from looking fearfully --reverentially, adoringly, worshipfully-- upward!