Apparently it’s time to dust off the ol’ blog. Life has certainly had its twists and turns over the last couple of years…really, over the last seven-and-a-half years…and while I’ve had moments—even seasons—of clarity, contentment, peace, and joy, it’s been quite a journey to find my footing; if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’ve found it just yet. I do feel more solid in many ways but less solid in some as I continue to walk the path set before me, one step at a time.
I’ve been hesitant to write about my journey because I’m not very good at being veiled and there are people whose lives would be affected if I opened up a vein too much. Up until recently, I’ve been too raw to put my thoughts and feelings “out there” out of concern for people I love. I re-enter the blogosphere with a little trepidation, but I also trust that somehow I’ll be able to navigate the minefield of my post-divorce life without doing too much damage along the way. And if I do offend anyone, it will be an opportunity to dialog and hopefully to grow through it. We shall see.
However, today’s topic has little to do with my journey of late and everything to do with something I read this morning. But it still might offend. 😉
My favorite season of the year—Lent—began yesterday. I’ve chosen to use Contemplating the Cross by Tricia McCary Rhodes as my Lenten reading. I used this wonderful book many years ago and knew it was time to revisit it. I’ve gotten a little off track in my heart and soul over the last six months and it was time to return to, “the one thing that I know”—Christ crucified.
Today’s reading looked at Matthew 26:36-38, where Jesus tell his disciples he’s grieved to the point of death and asks his three best friends to be with him. I’ve read this account a zillion times. Anyone who knows me well knows that Gethsemane has become a favorite place and how much it has helped me to learn about lament and the example Jesus sets for us here. But this morning some dots connected for me that were new…at least to me.
There is a stream in the church that is very focused on “victory.” I’ve been around it just enough to know there is little to no room for lament, grief, sorrow, or any expression of pain or negativity because “Sunday’s a-comin’!” Christ rose from the grave so it’s all good and we’re supposed to shake it off, smile, and praise God any time anything tough happens because the Bible says to “count it all joy.” :shudder: NOT that I don’t take “count it all joy” seriously; I just don’t think it means you’re supposed to be happy when your child dies or your husband leaves you or you get fired or [name your very hard thing].
Here’s what struck me today—We who believe Jesus is part of the Trinity believe that he was fully human and fully God while he walked the earth. If ANYONE knew that Sunday was “a-comin'” it was HIM. Right? He knew what was happening and why and what the outcome would be, which is a far cry from where we find ourselves when we’re in the midst of a “trial.” (Such a sanitary word for times when you feel like your guts are being ripped out or your whole world is crashing to the ground.)
But look at the scene—Do we see happy? Do we see, “It’s all good”? Do we see someone excited to face the tough stuff because he knows victory is around the corner? Do we see someone with a smile on his face?
NO!!! That is exactly what we DON’T see.
We see a man who is in AGONY. How did HE “count it all joy”? Not in the way the “victory people” would tell us to. I don’t sense Jesus smiling through tears here. I don’t see him “standing on Scripture” or even declaring God’s goodness. And, fascinatingly, I don’t see him doing spiritual warfare to push back the evil that’s at work. What I see is a man who is in deep grief, deep pain, and who really, Really, REALLY doesn’t want to do what is being asked of Him. Not to mention a man who gets pretty pissed off with his friends for falling asleep on the job!
Jesus shows us that joy has little to do with emotion, smiles, or declarations of “God is good (all the time!).” Joy here is seen in his relationship with the Father…that he could come before Abba, with sweat, blood, and tears, and say, “This is too hard. Please make it stop.” Have you ever said that? I’ve said it more times than I can count.
So the next time you risk sharing something painful and someone tells you not to cry, or to cheer up because Heaven is coming soon, or to stand on the victory you have in Christ, etc., please point them to this passage and ask them how the Son of God models what they’re telling you to do.
I pray stunned silence will be the response.