I was tired. The dishes weren’t done. My girl was looking sleepy and my boy was knee deep into a project. Both were sick. From the looks of us, you’d never know that in five minutes we’d be trying to imitate Christ. But it is Easter weekend and I didn’t want to miss the opportunities to reflect on our faith.
I brought out the basin of water, the towels, the plate with bread and the juice. Lights down, we sat together and read the passage of the night Jesus was betrayed. The night he instituted the Lord’s supper. The night He washed His disciples’ feet.
I wanted them to see something. To be moved. But instead, they were figity. Half-interested. I was not surprised, but disappointed and, to be honest, annoyed. I wished I’d never tried it. That old voice came back to me…the one that says,”Why even try?”
I lamented the situation. I sighed…outloud. I did not imitate Christ.
Instead of praying for us to be more like Him…I just thanked Him. Thanked Him for laying down His life. For taking the role of a servant. Because I AM NOT always a servant and neither are my kids. I DO NOT always lay down my life by my own accord. I get tired of taking care of sick kids. I get discontent. I want more ease in my life.
“15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
As I washed their feet and they washed each others I had little to say. The reality of our human condition had festered all day and culminated in this moment. I had thought of it as I broke up the ground for our garden. How people down the years had broken up the bround for burying loved ones.
I thought of it each time my kids had asked me…as they have before…”Why does God make us sick?” “Who made germs?” I thought of it as I wiped…countless times…the sweat and vomit from my children’s faces. And now…now as I once again try to steer us toward Christ and it just…doesn’t quite work.
The reality of our human condition. Our desperate need.
We looked at each other in our pitiful state and I said, “This is why He came.”
Isn’t it at these moments when we realize our need for Him? Isn’t it for these moments that He came for? Because all of our religious steps and doing good things and following traditions aren’t what save us. But it is by His body broken and blood spilled. It is by His laying down His life and His taking and giving to us for moments like these.
Job 1:21 “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Often we think of this verse in regards to the blessings and difficulties in life. But this weekend, my husband has me thinking on something new. I’m thinking of this verse in regards to what the Lord has given and taken away as a result of His work on the cross and laying His own life down.
Jesus has taken…
My death, sin debt, shame, thirst and guilt. My old self was crucified with Him.
Jesus has given…
His body…broken for me…in place of mine
Freedom from slavery to sin
A new identity – a new creation in Christ
Newness of life now
Eternal life hope for the future
Access to to the Father
A new family
A new desire to live for righteousness
Every spiritual blessing in Christ
His righteousness – His perfect obedience counted as ours.
His merits – His rightstanding with the Father.
His love and relationship
And He continues to give and take away.
WHAT DO YOU DESIRE FOR THE LORD TO YET GIVE YOU?
Is there a deep unsatisfied spiritual need? A desire to give to and love a particular person more?
WHAT DO YOU DESIRE FOR THE LORD TO YET TAKE AWAY?
Is there a habitual sin or struggle you’ve been wrestling with? Perhaps an area of heartache or a festering wound.
Because the taking of the Lord is not always a bad thing.
The past year or two have been a season of the best of times but also–some of the worst of times. Many sweet and glorious moments but mixed with some darkness, confusion and alot of death. It has been what we Christians call a valley. I was told recently that death is what to expect as one gets older. Death used to seem so shocking to me but maybe not so much anymore. And even the smaller deaths…the emotional and spiritual ones…those don’t surprise me too much anymore either. And Jesus even experienced that didn’t He? He was betrayed and often misunderstood. His friends died…and then He did it himself. THE life experience we’re all waiting and wondering about is death and He has gone through that door before us. And while we wait we experience little deaths…sufferings of one sort or another and He has done that too.
Have you ever been spit on (if not in a literal sense, maybe with words)? Have you ever been in such mental and spiritual agony that you sweat drops of blood? Probably not…but perhaps you felt like you did. Have you ever felt like you’ve died a thousand deaths?
Can you believe it? He has too.
Yet there is a difference. Yes…a huge difference. In all of our sufferings and even death…we most likely never (or rarely) choose them. “But I lay it down of my own accord.” He did.
As comforting as it is to know my God has gone before me, endured suffering and death and now walks me through my own…my comfort increases all the more to know that He chose to experience it for me…for us. He did it in order to create for Himself His own people and to give to and take from them as a good shepherd does.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
One of my favorite songs to listen to during the Easter weekend as I await Sunday morning: O Sacred Head Now Wounded sung by Fernando Ortega.
Paintings by Caravaggio
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