It’s become a cliche over the decades – “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with Jesus.” The cliche is true. But like me, so many of us Christians forget what the cliche means. A relationship with Jesus is not like a relationship with Opera, where she spouts off inspiring stories from magic window in our living room and we feel led to follow her example of generosity and hope. A relationship with Jesus is not like a relationship with your pastor where he reminds you of where you fail and offers tips to regain stability. A relationship with Jesus is not like a relationship with your parent where they offer themselves as a crutch selfelssly giving of themselves to ensure your prosperity in the future. A relationship with Jesus is hardly like a brother that forgives you of your sin against him because he himself needs forgiveness from you. A relationship with Jesus is like that between a man and a woman. He is the groom, we are the bride. He makes a promise, his life given to us so that we might enjoy his love and providence forever. We cheat on him over and over again. Yet he forgives, not because of our love for him – we whore ourself to every entertaining passer by! He forgives because he is driven by the love in his heart to have us in his arms and show us what it is to be loved by a perfect prince.
It sickens me to think that I have hidden myself from this love in the past. And I’m in agony knowing I will forget him again in the future. But I don’t fight him when I find myself captured by him, back into his arms. When he scoops me out of the bed of my whorings in one arm, while destroying his competition with a single blow – enraged with jealousy. You might here me cry inanxiety, but it’s not because I’m fighting him. It is because I still can’t come to terms with this love that fights for me while I hurt him. That rescues me while I vomit the cum of my affairs over my nakedness. That heals the wounds I received from giving myself to his enemy as a toy for play.
I don’t fight my perfect prince. I bury my self under his arm and plead with him to never let me go. And his reply to me is a song. He sings to me his love and salvation. If you hear me crying it’s not because I’m fighting him. They are tears of joy knowing that I am loved, protected and cared for much more than I deserve. I have been a whore, but he loves me like I am the apple of his eye…. and I am.
I took some time off of my regular blog style (frequent journals and bible times) to take more time just listening to the word and–basically–trying to cover as much OT as possible. While listening to, and understanding the OT is still important to me – I now realize how important those mornings of devoted bible time–reading, meditating & praying were. Ben McGrath, needs to spend time with God reading his scripture allowed to myself, spending time deeply investigating how the gospel is exposed in every story and allowing time for Holy Spirit to bear down the weight of biblical principals. Frankly, I regret giving this habit up. Especially in the knowledge that it was a hard habit to develop. And it will be even harder to re-develop with an even busier pattern of life.
Today is Easter Monday. Traditional western culture offers a great time for busy people to take some time off and reflect on the Gospel at Easter. Funnily enough this tradition was originally a idolatrous pagan festival which was later absorbed by the medieval Catholicism attempting to integrate christian themes into a pagan ritual (or so I’ve heard). I’m not sure whether or not the medieval religious leaders would call their operation a success, but from my perspective I think Easter is a great example of Genesis 50:20.
The effect Easter has had on me this year will be memorable. It started on Friday Night. I was with Mark & Keely, in their living room practicing music for the Easter Sunday gathering. The music sounded good and I didn’t have to think to much about tightening up the sound. The fellowship was great! We broke bread, drank wine and remembered the mercy of our heavenly Father by offering his son as a propitiating sacrifice. That’s when I began to feel hunger pangs – I had allowed a distance in my relationship with God, and intimate communion with Mark & Kelly revealed that. I felt embarrassed before my King because I had invested more time in my relationship with the Myles’, my wife and even my petty business, than what I had with him. Thankful for his mercy–I endeavored to pursue each person of the trinity deeper during my Easter long weekend opportunity.
The change in me was evident to myself the next morning. I wanted to love my wife the way Jesus loved me. She was feeling sick, but we had a big day planned organizing Easter day events (chocolate, feasting etc.). In the middle of the day was a Easter egg hunt. We had fun but Maggie’s face showed exhaustion and a sort of agony over all the work she had left over that would be multiplied by the headache and family needs (dinner, babies etc.). I couldn’t help myself, the Love Jesus has for his bride the church was erupting inside me and I was compelled to secretly buy a book for my wife and drop her off at Starbucks for two hours while I took the kids home to bath them and organize dinner. I felt blessed to reflect the kind of love I felt coming from my saviour, but it only increased my hunger to seek him further.
That night after Journey was sleeping I took Bo with me to get some wine while Maggie finished her Easter feast preparations. When we returned Bo was ready to sleep. Maggie gave him his goodnight feed while I prepared the bread and wine and a verse to read. As I scanned through the pages of John I realized the precious value of the words I had glazed over by substituting my bible time for mere listening to streaming audio while I do other things. John 12:27 seemed like a good place to start and as we reflected on the weight of the moment we decided to just keep reading until John 21. It was a good decision–one that we would not have made if it weren’t for the merciful leading of the Holy Spirit.
We read as Jesus warned us of what was going to happen. As the people were blinded with hard hearts. As Jesus emphasized the importance of believing on the Son. As he summerized his purpose on earth to the disciples with wisdom and service. As he assured them that he was not unaware of the peril to come. As Peter defended his loyalty in vain. As Jesus pushed his message hard, as if desperate for the disciples to “get it”, knowing that they had no idea of the glorious climax awaiting. As Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit, not just as a force but as a friend and as God himself coming to live in us. As Jesus assured them that nothing, not even death would separate his people from him and his glorious seat. As Jesus–filled with the Spirit–gave himself up submissively to those arresting him. As he humbled himself while being tried by sinners. As Peter fails, in his own strength he was not enough. As Jesus humbly bore the punishment of a convict–the agony that must have filled his disciples, while the Father knew hopefully of the glorious throne given to his Son, bursting with more glory with every blow and jeer. As the stomachs of the disciples dropped and shattered as the stone is rolled across the door of the tomb. The total absence of hope in Mary’s words as she stands before her victorious resurrected Lord. Jesus’ gentleness with the disciples as they stumble over their disbelief as if there eyes were squinting in search for the hope of Jesus promise rather than opening their eyes wide to see what was right in front of them. As Jesus mercifully and hopefully commands them to be just like him with nothing less than the Holy Spirit to empower them, just as he himself was empowered…
Indeed. My love for Jesus has been re-kindled. Even after a distance that I had unintentionally created. He pursued me and pressed into me his will, and now I’m hungering for him as he satisfies me daily.
I know there is more Lord. I know your Spirit lives in me, I feel you yearning in me to come closer to you. I feel like a weak child because I can’t see the value of what I have, even though I know I love it and don’t want to lose it. And now I’m going to start working on websites and graphic design and stuff. I have to admit my work seems like a sedative at times, dulling my obsession to you. Please continue to well up in me and draw me to you daily. With every time I swing back into my old way – swing me higher into your light that I might forget myself and look deeper into you and your way.
Thank you Father for your grace. I have nothing but your mercy in my life. Everything else is sand that changes shape with the wind and the waves. Your grace is the food I need to love and be loved. I’m guilty of disbelief Lord. Even now I fear myself and my selfishness that it might blind me again from your goodness. Save me oh Lord my God again. Like a husband to his beloved bride, washing her with water in the word. I long for you Jesus. Rescue me from myself today, tomorrow and until I die.