This year I’m not asking for a better year, I’m asking for more of Jesus–more love for Him and others. I’m asking for a heart that will say He is more than enough in loss and better than life in death. And I’m asking for a life that says, “Jesus, You are worth it!”
Sometimes, it seems that death has a way of drawing us back or closer to Jesus. We think more about eternity and Jesus, and about people who don’t know the Lord.
At this time of year, you can’t help but think about all the people celebrating Christmas with Jesus. What is it like to be with both the Giver and the Gift in the same person? To be surrounded by lights, angels, joy and peace, family, laughter, hugs, and the One who made Christmas? Are they still celebrating/remembering Advent with Jesus? Do they give gifts?
I long for my own Christmas in Heaven. To wake up Christmas morning to Jesus instead of stockings. To hug and be held by Jesus, instead of cats and rats. To see the Light of the world, instead of lights lighting up the world. To hold hands with Immanuel and physically have “God with us”.
Yes. It definitely sounds like the place to be at Christmas. Seeing God–imagine that!
Sometimes God uses the most ordinary things to teach us about His extraordinary Son. I got to experience one of those moments in the carwash this afternoon.
Life has been extremely rough for me…I’ve never felt the darkness and sorrow like I’ve been feeling it since coming back from Mexico and Passion. Sometimes I am so scared that my dreams as a teen are going to come true: I’ll die young. Other times I’m afraid that just the opposite will happen and I’ll waste my life on something that really doesn’t matter. I’m only as afraid of death as most Christians seem to be, but I am so weary and worn out that I long for the day when I won’t feel this way anymore. I am eager to take Jesus’ hand and finally see His face. I can’t wait to actually see! Actually know what love really is.
So, here I was in the carwash, and it was one of those “God moments” when He just focused my attention on Him and I saw a comparison between my dirty, dented car to my dirty, dented life.
My car hadn’t been washed since I got into the hit-and-run in June. Most of the car had been fixed, but what’s broken is broken, and it will never be completely the same. That was my car—there are dents, a roar, dull spots, pieces of the old rear window still drop down into the trunk, and the trunk leaks. That’s my car, but it’s also my life.
Since Mexico and Passion, my “perfect” life has been ruined. I have dents, chips, and scars from my past—all covered up with a nice coat of paint. But no matter how the outside looks, the inside is a mess. Even if most people do not see it, it’s still there. And once in awhile, people will see a faint scar or the Light of Christ will illuminate an area where the paint has done nothing but put a dull coat over the rust of bitterness or brokenness. Those are the moments when the paint job really looks like what it is: a cover-up.
Most of the time, I act like I’m okay, that I’m doing alright, that I’ve got it all together. But it’s really just noise to hide the injury underneath. In contrast to my car, I am usually quiet. But the silence and the way I talk is white noise to mask the hurt that happened. It may as well be a roar, as loud as it is to Jesus. The silence of my heart cries out to him as loud as if I were screaming.
Just as my car drops pieces of the shattered rear window into the trunk, pieces of my broken life have a way of slipping through into my visible life. I thought I’d gotten every piece of glass cleaned up and that my broken past was nicely swept into the closet, but both messes have a way of resurfacing, if they aren’t completely cleaned up.
And the trunk leaks…that is a constant reminder of what this car has been into. My life oozes sorrow, hurt, anger, fear, loss and probably another half dozen emotions when I am pressurized like my car in the carwash or a big rainstorm.
1. Introductory Rinse
Jesus doesn’t overwhelm us by blasting us with everything we need forgiveness for and everyone/everything we need to forgive. He shows us a few things, and a few more, and a few more…as He gently forgives us and tenderly draws us toward Him.
And then He just tells us to stop. Stop running, stop hiding, just stop. He just grabs on to us and tells us to stop chasing the wind. He takes our faces in His hands and makes us look into His eyes. “Just stop. You can’t outrun Me, can’t hide from Me, and you sure can’t escape Me.”
Our sins, secrets, and sorrows are completely covered in His cleansing forgiveness. We are covered in His blood.
Then He just lets us ponder His amazing grace and forgiveness freely given to us. Unlike the carwash, it doesn’t cost us anything, we don’t have to save up tokens, it’s available at all times, and doesn’t require an attendant! We get to “stand still and behold the wondrous works of God” in our lives!
This time, it’s a heavy, drenching soak. At times, we feel like Jesus is going to let us suffocate in the deluge. And we think we are going to die as we see pieces and chunks of our past and present falling off. We think we won’t be the same person we were before the wash. We cry our hearts out, “Jesus, it hurts too much!” There is a pain like a Band-Aid being pulled too fast from a wound—only it’s Jesus stripping us of everything we’ve been holding onto for so long. Standing there clean but soaked, we only see scars, gaping holes, dents, and chips.
We are given a new life in Christ—we are more fully able to appreciate the abundant life He came to give. He takes the ugly scars and shines them up. He takes the broken, dented pieces of our lives and makes them sparkle in the light of His Presence. We are “children of God…shining like lights in the world” (Phil 2:15). Jesus uses the scars from our pasts to be the means of reaching and relating to others.
We leave looking beautiful in spite of our brokenness. We have lost so much ugliness and sin, and are leaving with so much forgiveness from God in Christ Jesus. We are also leaving with forgiveness for others. And we feel free. But we don’t just leave wet and waxed. Jesus meets us at the door, dries us off, and gathers us into His arms. We are surrounded by His love, forgiveness, grace, and acceptance. Forgiveness without love doesn’t go very far. We would be left with doubts about God’s love, which would lead us to search for acceptance in others. Jesus doesn’t want to leave us that way. He wants to make sure we “get” it. He wants us to experience His love first hand and all that God is for us in Him.
It’s a beautiful thing, really.
I’ve started a couple of poems since last May, but was unable to finish them. I wrote this one this evening, after thinking all day about Ezek 37 (the dry bones) and Psalms 18:28, “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” This is how I’ve been feeling-dead in the dark-and I’m just trusting God that one day I will more fully see His light in this darkness and be able to breathe deeply and say, “Ahh, I’m finally alive again!”
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. –Lao Tzu
This is the outward evidence of my inward action. It feels like a thousand miles have brought me to this first step. Jesus, thank you for new mercies every morning, fresh starts, and helping me forget the past and run toward the future (Phil 3:13-14)!