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In a mirror, grimly, and yet

If there’s one thing I like, it’s a clean bathroom mirror. Toothbrush splatters, water spots and the random dust and debris just don’t belong there. I like my reflection unimpeded. I shouldn’t have to squint through all that.

So I, like my mother before me, keep cleaning supplies close at hand. An under sink wash rag stands ready for the counters and sinks. A spray bottle of glass cleaner and a hefty roll of paper towels are tucked a little further back. OK OK, I know. I was a bit hasty recently applying the wash rag (it was clean, I swear!) to the offending splatters. Lesson learned: efficiency leaves water-splotched streaking behind. But they were nothing several spritzes of window cleaner and some healthy swoops with the pristine paper towels couldn’t handle. Voila! Pretty darn sparkly.

Until the morning came. And with it, the sun’s rising brilliance blazed in the transom window. Something about that beam delivered from just that angle at just that moment — a picture-perfect framing of my magnificent mirror handiwork. Which was, in a word, embarrassing: overlapping swipes and smudges that were simply a re-distribution of the mirror dirt I hadn’t removed at all. By this light, it was as if my pristine paper towel was nothing but a greasy rag or a re-purposed cloth working overtime.

Nary a clean speck to be seen.

And here I had been admiring it so … from a distance. Under careful examination, it was a mess!

Isn’t it glorious to know that our Maker, though seeing us through and through in that examinating and illuminating glow, doesn’t despair? Even as we spiff ourselves up to present our best, He neither chuckles nor dismisses. Oh what self-restraint it must take to look upon my grimy presentation, I think.

And then, in the fleeting flash of a spirit-ignited moment, I think better.

For just that moment I see that illuminated square of mirror in a dazzling display of sparkling pure reflection. Nary a hint of dust, dirt, smudge or swipe. Pristine. And in that split of a second I am immersed in gratitude for a Savior, the gift of God, who has offered himself that our mirror might actually be clean. A clean that our best efforts could never achieve.

Reflection, how I stand before you, unsatisfied with what I see. And yet, the crystal clear view from the other side sees me differently. Yes, as I am, but also as one day I may be. When, through the eyes of Love, I am able to see Thee for myself just as now I am seen.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

What a good, good thing is Good Friday, that we may look fully upon the anguish, the ugly and even the evil perpetuated on humankind by humankind and let it invite us to call upon the One with the power to cleanse even this.

Thanks be to God.

From Black and White to Living Color

So, we wait.

We don’t rush to the finish. We don’t turn to the back of the book for the answers or the last chapter to see how it comes out. We don’t take the short cut through the peppermint forest if we roll doubles. We don’t jump to the front of the line. We wait. cross black drape

What anguish there is in waiting.

  • The physical discomfort of position, perhaps injury or illness or disease.
  • The mental turmoil of wondering what will it take to be well?
  • The emotionally wrenching, what if things don’t get better?
  • The spiritual crisis, why did God allow this to happen?

Holy Saturday sits us here, perhaps personally, or perhaps at the bedside or at a distance but in intercession for another. We wait, and while we wait, we pray.

Jesus knew pain.

  • The physical pain of crucifixion.
  • The mental pain of derision and public humiliation.
  • The emotional pain of grief and loss, sorrow and betrayal.
  • Even the spiritual pain of forsakenness, rejection and loneliness.

Jesus waited a day, and while he waited, he healed. The suffering of physical pain was gone. The mental pain, he resolved “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The spiritual pain was answered, “He sits at the right hand of God the Father.” But the emotional pain…does he still shed tears for his people? He must.

cross floweredHow does emotional pain find its healing?

Where do anguish, sorrow, and mourning go?

Time heals all wounds, we like to say, but that gives too much power and too much credit to time.

Waiting alone doesn’t heal.

While we wait, we pray.

Prayer takes the black and white of Good Friday and colors it in the pastels and bright hues of Easter.

The Father gives hope to those who pray.

Love doesn’t leave

“I’m not leaving his side.” This is the expression of love. A love so deep that it proclaims, nothing is separating us. I am staying right here… in case he needs something, in case he hurts, to prevent him from getting lost or wandering away, so he won’t be confused or lonely. This is the language of love and devotion.

How must it have felt to Jesus to leave those he loved so dearly? Those who had loved him and been his closest companions. Those whom he had ministered to, taught,  mentored, loved. These with whom he had laughed and cried, eaten, slept, prayed, walked, and sat in silence. These with whom he shared his final hours around a table where bread and wine became body and blood. What must it have been like to know that your leaving will cause overwhelming grief, mourning, pain and sorrow? To anticipate this pain and yet, agree to go?

Perhaps this pain was even greater than that inflicted by those who derided, flogged and crucified him. Perhaps this was why he asked this cup be taken, why his prayer evoked drops of blood. He longed to stay with those he loved. What reason could there possibly be to separate a love like that?

Only one: to prepare a place for us, all who love him, so we can be where He is. The only thing greater than a love like that is a Love Like That.

I sit mesmerized by our choir singing powerfully of the lamb of God slain. Crucified, dead and buried. We emerge in the silence of the dark night. As I sit in my car waiting for traffic to clear so I can make my way home, I wonder at what I’ve seen and heard. A dinner with friends so closely followed by denial and death. This speaks so loudly of the way of this world. Why do I force myself to sit before the sights and sounds of Good Friday? I know this story;  it slays me.

The parking lot begins to clear and I power up my car to make my exit. I have inadvertently left the radio on and its lyrics shock the silence. “God’s not dead he’s surely alive,” croon the Newsboys. I smile to myself, then sing along. “He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion…” I even turn up the volume a bit as I pull past the few remaining cars, motioning one woman driving a mini-van into the line ahead of me.

I wonder if she or the parking attendant in reflective orange who is directing traffic with orange-glo sticks can hear me and the Newsboys. Can they see me smiling and singing along? Probably wondering about me.

The way I see it, why wait? The weight of three days has already been lifted. God’s not dead; he’s surely alive.

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