The Heaviest, Most Delicate Things

IMG_2635

I wear these three initials around my neck.

You would think these small things would’ve broken off by now given the life of the one who wears them. And the hands that grab at them. And the wild journey behind them.

But they rest secure right in the center, moving with the heartbeat that reverberates through my chest. They weigh next to nothing in the grand scheme of things but they are the heaviest, most delicate things I own.

They are stamped onto a circle of gold. Deep and clear. Etched in for the sake of permanence.

This necklace is a tangible prayer of thanksgiving.

But it’s also a prayer of petition. It’s not complete.

As light as it is, it feels heavy with the absence of the missing ones.

There are more out there that need to be added.  Names unknown. Initials yet to be revealed.

How many, only God knows.

But they’ll join the ranks when the time is right.

For now, I wear the three. Gold, blazing in the Light, as we prepare for the rest to come home.

 

Hot Mess

I had stopped counting the number of times I gathered up dirty sheets, clothes and towels.  I lost track of how many baths I had run to clean up the hot mess that was my contagious child late on a Wednesday night.  It was at that moment, looking at myself with latex gloves and armed with Lysol wipes and spray, that I realized just what we have to do as a parent when we have sick children.

It became comical—the biohazard-style precision of keeping sickness and germs from spreading.  But there’s only so much you can do to protect yourself from the dreaded stomach virus and at one point, I took off the gloves (truthfully, I ran out of them), put down the cleaning supplies and opened my arms to my hurting child.  And in the midst of it all, I realized something so profound as my little one allowed me to embrace him:  Jesus did this—but so much better.

If we are to truly understand the significance of Jesus, we have to realize that we are one big, hot mess ourselves.  If I’m honest about myself without Jesus, I am a walking contagious, germ-filled woman of sin, filled with everything ugly: fear, worry, pride, impatience, jealousy, laziness, unkindness, selfishness, living only for myself and not for God.  I cannot escape these things on my own.  Without Jesus, these are unharnessed, ruthless controllers of my soul.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t have to be defined as that woman.  I don’t have to take on the burden of my own humanity.  However, I must realize that my sin creates some pretty obvious damage—a separation from a holy God that cannot be bridged without Jesus.  Timothy Keller gives an example in his book The Reason For God, about a person who accidentally drives a car into a gate on your property.  Damage has been done.  Repairs must be made.  You can either demand that the person pay for the damage (or you somehow split the cost).  Or you take on the payment yourself and refuse to let the person pay for anything.  Regardless of any of that, payment must be made.  “Notice that in every option the cost of the damage must be borne by someone.  Either you or he absorbs the cost of the deed, but the debt does not somehow vanish into thin air.”

Therefore the Cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love.  Throwing your life away needlessly is not admirable—it is wrong.  Jesus’s death was only a good example if it was more than an example, if it was something absolutely necessary to rescue us.  And it was.  Why did Jesus have to rescue us?  There was a debt to be paid—God himself paid it.  There was a penalty to be born—God himself bore it.  Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.  (The Reason For God)

I think about the ultimate celebration of Jesus’s resurrection as we make our way toward Easter.  I visualize Jesus on the cross, holding his arms open for me—the disease-ridden one.  And it’s as if he has forgone any opportunity of donning latex gloves and Lysol wipes and any other protection, in order to embrace me.  He offers himself as the ultimate accepter of all that is ugly and shameful and sick and contagious.  He takes on everything that makes me broken and takes it all willingly, lovingly and without regret.  All to make me whole and healthy and right with God.  How can I not run into the arms of a parent like that?