The weather can direct our mood almost more than any other factor, especially when we live in a place of such temperature extremes as West Michigan. Josh told me tonight that he realized our car had a rain sensor on the windshield which can match the rhythm of the wipers to the amount of rain falling. I’m not only amazed by this invention, I also question the necessity of it. Is it that difficult to reach your hand a few inches to adjust windshield wipers? As I was watching the beads collect on the glass, listening to the shhhhhhh of the light rain and watching the tick-tock of wipers, I felt grateful for the rain, the gray sky, and even the uncomfortable chill. Good Friday should be remembered with somber, rainy day feelings. It really does help me focus on the darkness of this day and of the huge implications Good Friday has for my life.
Last night, our small group reenacted The Last Supper together, washing feet and taking communion. I was struck by the portion of our service together that highlighted the requirement of full self-examination. I’d never really realized that Judas participated in The Last Supper right alongside the other disciples, taking the same bread and drinking the same wine. Jesus invited the disciples to take a full inventory of themselves, examining the deepest truths of their beings, bringing it all before Him. Judas was there, participating in the motions, possibly even wanting to fully engage. But the sins of betrayal, selfishness, denial, and pride had such a tight grip on him…and sometimes I feel like, of all the disciples, I am most like Judas…
Lately, I’ve been reading books on human experiences in Heaven. The book, “Heaven is for Real” gave me such a glimpse of what is to come, and it helped me with the doubts I struggle with regarding the authority of Scripture. (Read this book. Please.) And because I was so moved and shaken by the book, I asked friends to recommend other books on human accounts of heaven. I began reading “Flight to Heaven,” Capt. Dale Black’s survival story of a horrible plane crash. This book also provides so much validation for me, and I completely trust his experience. It’s absolutely astounding to me to read about the indescribable heavenly colors, the bright light, the peace of brotherhood, the joys of reconciliation, the presence of Jesus, and the complete dominion of God. I encourage anyone to read these amazing accounts because they can inspire, encourage, and uplift, especially when we’re weary and tired from the struggling lives we find ourselves in. But, I’m disappointed in myself for getting more goosebumps from these stories than from the book of Revelation. I put way too much stock in human experience when I should need to look no further than the Bible itself.
Last night, before taking communion, I didn’t have enough time for a full self-examination. I took the bread too quickly, without spending the time, possibly hours, I needed to mediate on the cross, to dig deeply into my sin and face the ugly truths that misguide me every day. My selfishness, my vanity, my lack of faith, my lack of spiritual discipline…all of these things overwhelmed me. And, ironically, this overwhelming feeling was chopped up and interrupted by thoughts that came from these very sins. Meanwhile, I’m also thanking God for the spiritual maturity that has taken place in my own life, my home, my marriage. But part of this maturity, it seems, is realizing just how wretched I really am compared to the purity and righteousness of Jesus. As I move closer toward blossoming into a mature Christian woman, I discover I am still merely a bud.
This morning, I opened my home room class with this video for devotions.
Phil Wickham is young, fresh, powerful and relevant; I chose this video so it would impact my students deeply, impressing upon them the importance of repentance and full surrender to Jesus not just as Savior, but as Lord. But I couldn’t help but feel somewhat foolish, standing in front of them as an example. If I’m examining myself as required by Christ at The Last Supper, I can’t pretend to be an excellent example of a Christian. Jesus is my Savior, but I’m still trying to figure out what it means for Him to be my Lord. I recently discovered that there is a huge difference, and they are inseparable and fully dependent on the other. I’m still breaking down age-old walls that keep my trust for and reliance on God from being beautifully free.
Today, I realize that these aspects of me, these dark tendencies of mine to worship and honor the Self, are the nails that put Christ on the cross. Literally. My sin was at Golgotha, pounded into the innocent flesh of the One that came to reconcile me to God. And although I know that Sunday is coming, and the stone will roll away to reveal an empty tomb, today I’m grateful for the clouds and the rain. I want to dwell in the thickness of shame in order to make my self-examination as honest as possible so that I can be less like Judas and more like the man he kissed.
May you be reflective today, honest with yourself, knowing that no matter what dirt you find, just like the shhhhhhhhh of a Spring rain, Jesus cleanses you and makes you new.