The past few months have been hard, gut wrenching, one blow after another, will it ever give up hard. I have counseled friends who are struggling through the pains of a failing marriage; listened as a friend explained that the cancer currently ravaging his body was most likely terminal and the doctors were not sure what more they could do; wept and mourned as I stand with a friend while they lose a custody battle and what they thought was firm and true they now find shaky and falling apart; I have sat on the other side of the internet and wept as my friends laid to rest one who was a father, a brother, an uncle, a pastor, a friend; I have been rocked by the news of this world where children are slaughtered and men, women and children are still sold as slaves and CNN reports on “celebrity” news as if anyone cares who exactly is cheating on whom in the fake world of Hollywood anyway; and I have sat in personal angst as the lies of the enemy reminded me that I am going into my 36th year alone again and I am not worthy to be pursued by one who will one day take me as a wife. I feel as though I have been in a one-sided sparring match taking blow after blow, facing more disappointment, feeling deep loneliness, paralyzed by fear of the next steps, and being angry at it all.
I have wept until I felt I could weep no more and then a fresh batch of tears will begin to flow from my eyes.
I put on the happy when I am out in the crowd, and I smile and say everything is going to be all right. I know that this too shall pass and He is faithful above all. I know that in my mind, believe it in my heart, but I do not feel it in my soul right now. My soul feels crushed, and weary and wonders if it will recover.
After months of travel and crazy business I finally got to be at my home church a few weeks ago. I was so excited to worship, hug necks, and serve. One of my very favorite ways that I get to serve in my church is to serve communion.
I was raised in a church where communion was this private event that happened once maybe twice a year. It was incredibly solemn service that happened an hour before another service and wrought with fear filled messages of “if you don’t come with a clean mind and heart you’ll die.” At least that is how I interpreted it in my young, tiny brain. Invariably just as I was about to eat the wafer or drink the juice some horrible thought would pop into my brain and I was sure that I would soon die as a result. Communion was not something I looked forward to.
Attending the church that I do now, communion is a whole different experience and I cannot wait to come to the table each week! Communion is served to the body of Christ every week at my church. It is still a solemn time. One for quiet reflection of one’s heart and mind and motives, and one of joyfilled reflection on Christ’s sacrifice.
This particular week we were doing what I very irreverently call the “Chip and dip” method. One person holds the bowl of bread and the other holds the chalice of juice (yep we are still Baptist enough to use juice) – people take a piece of bread and then dip it in the juice.
This particular week I was holding the cup.
As each person who dipped the body of Christ in the cup I looked them in the eyes and said “The Blood of Christ shed for You”. At first these were just words, just something I was used to saying, it was what was done during communion. And then….after around the 10th person all of a sudden those words hit me and tears began to flow down my face. The blood of Christ….BLOOD that flowed from a body that had been beaten with glass and rocks, and blood that flowed from a head that had been punctured and driven into by thick thorns…that Holy Precious Blood that I do not deserve even a drop of….was gushing out of Christ…for me, for every single person in that crowd and for all of humankind regardless of color, socioeconomic status, creed, tribe, tongue or nation. As my mind was finally comprehending what my heart was trying to say I stood weeping as the mere thought of it all was joyous and overwhelming.
This morning as I was drinking deeply from my coffee cup, and reading in Revelation chapter five I found this.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
(Revelation 5:1-5 ESV)
WEEP.NO.MORE! He has conquered!! He is Worthy to open the scrolls!! He who “was slain and by his blood ransomed from every tribe and language and people and nation” He is worthy!
Jesus the Christ who allowed himself to be beaten and crucified….He has a time-table beyond the bounds of the time we understand. That blood was shed because He knew that there would be failed marriages, terminal cancer, custody battles, lies and death. He knew that we would weep and mourn, be lonely, feel unwanted and unloved, be angry and scream out in pain that doesn’t seem to let up. He willingly allowed his blood to be shed for that pain, so that we who walk through it on this earth do not walk without Hope. He conquered all….and now we sit in the place between and wait.
This morning nothing written above has changed – marriages are still struggling, cancer is still ravaging bodies of those I love, custody battles rage and I am still single. But I am not one without Hope. I don’t get it…and I cannot explain it…but today I walk in renewed hope and renewed joy and I have faith that no matter what happens it is not without His knowledge, His allowing and his Hand. Rather I sit in anticipation of the moment when I too will be able to stand with the myriads and watch as the Lamb makes his way to the scrolls and I shall bow low and sing “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Amen!