Inspiration, Encouragement & Instructions
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Reflections on the IF:Equip Study: Mark 15:33-41 with commentary from Maria Goff & Lauren Chandler
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)...The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Does it comfort anyone else that when Christ was in despair and pain he called out to God asking why He had been forsaken? This is a huge comfort to me because it reminds me that Jesus felt despair and in his despair he was real with God and told God how he felt. If you know me, like really know me, you know that to talk about my feelings (negative or positive) is not what I do. I am not lovely-dovey, gushing with my heart, nor am I whatever the opposite of that might be. I don't like to discuss how I feel with God, my husband, or myself--and if I can't talk to these three people about them you can about imagine how much I talk to people outside of this circle about how I feel. Why? Because somewhere along the way I learned not to trust how I feel. To stuff those feelings down somewhere and if something really mattered that it would return to the surface at some point and I could talk about it then. At some point in my life I started believing that what I felt mattered far less than what I did or could accomplish. I was self-taught to calculate very carefully how much emotion to release to appear normal and how much to hide to also appear normal--no wonder I come across as put together to some people.
Truth be told I am not a very "put-together" person because the reality is, based on my perception of what occurs in this passage (and I am not Bible scholar, just keep that in mind), a whole person is one who can be honest about how they feel, one who has been torn apart and then grafted back together and is able to talk to God through that process. This image comes to mind as I consider my hesitancy toward letting myself discuss (or sometimes even feel emotion): It is as if I had wounds that needed tending. So I pulled myself up by my boot-straps, as any good American, independent women should do, and I patched those wounds up, stopping the blood from gushing and placing a protective layer across them to conceal. And they healed, kind of.
But when I read this passage and heard Lauren Chandler's comments on how it is in the tearing away that restoration is found, I wondered if perhaps my bandages needed some tearing away so that some supernatural tearing away and grafting could occur. The image isn't pretty, is it? In fact, the supernatural image is terrifying to me. And what I hear this passage tell my heart, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). If Jesus can feel forsaken and call out a question to God, I who am only human, not God-in-flesh, have permission to cry out to God and tell him how I feel. I have permission to have emotion. I have permission to feel and be in despair and wonder and question: Where are you God? I thought you were here, but now I can't see you and worst of all, I can't feel you. Where are you? Why am I here alone?
And what happens next in this divine narrative that turned the ownership of the world upside down, and put the law of sacrifices of the Old Testament in the "to be shredded" pile?
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
In the moments following Jesus' crying out to God he breathed his last and the divide that existed between God and man was covered by the blood of the God-man. The tearing was the symbol of the saving. Christ's death was the opening of a path to life--wholeness had become available to all who would believe that he was the Son of God, torn as a sacrifice to put to death death.
What is it that I have grafted into my wounds as an attempt to heal myself? What needs some tearing away so that God can make me whole and truly "put together"? What are my built-in defense mechanisms preventing me from stepping fully into the Holy of Holies?
What needs to be put to death so that I can find life: bad habits, selfish motives, misguided/judgmental thinking, worldly comfort, worldly safety, nearsightedness,... And how do I talk my emotions through all of this digging and tearing, and rebirthing? How do I find that safe place to be real with myself, my God and others?
The door is open, but I keep myself at a distance because the tearing away sounds painful, scary and too intimate for me to handle. To begin the process I have to have a really hard conversation about how I feel, what I feel, and why I feel that way. And I need to trust that when I am in that conversation that I might feel lost and forsaken, but when the conversation is over and I have put my heart truly at the cross of Christ I will find my saving in the moment of my feeling of forsakenness because even in my darkest hour I know that I am not forsaken. That when I reach that curtain I will see it is torn for me and I will be able to step through.
At the close of the commentary Lauren Chandler points out the beauty in the women of Jesus' being mentioned at this point of the story. She paraphrases the context of this having the following meaning: "I [Jesus] am going to take you all the way, all the way into the Holy of Holies with me."
And though Christ's death on the cross has sealed my salvation and has brought me into His presence, I still live with the reality that humanness and Christ live in me and if I am to live like Christ there may be times when my intimacy with him can be hindered by my own patch-job on my wounds. That I may need some bits of me torn away and put to death so that I can find complete assurance that I am whole, through Christ. But I will have to give myself permission to feel, to express my feelings, and to allow my feelings to bring me closer to God and closer to the people around me. If Jesus could do it so can I.
I have to see my heart as soil in need of plowing. Soil needs to be turned up by a plow so that the hard earth, crusted over by the dryness of winter, can but put under and the fresh, soft earth below can be raised up. The blade has to tear apart the ground to prepare it for the seeds. If the ground is not softened by the plow the seeds can not dig their roots deep. If the ground is left hard the seeds can easily be picked up by the birds and carried away from their purpose. I need to trust the farmer of my soil and begin to let Him prepare for a harvest.
What about you? What in you needs to be allowed to be soft again? What in you needs to be torn away to bring rejuvenation?
I don't now what this process will look and I am not even sure if I will be able to embrace it. But I want to try because I want people to see Christ in me. I don't want to people to see a have-it-all-together life, but a woman living with a wholeness and completeness that inspires and draws people to the source of it--Christ.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: