An Empty Sheet, A Borrowed Grave, Salvation

This is an older post of mine that I’ve always had a soft spot for. I wrote it when just my mom read my blog, so I’m dragging it out, dusting it off, getting its hair did, and inviting it to the ball.

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In the midst of Lent and with Easter just around the corner, and the relevance this season has to me as a Christian, I find myself feeling a bit more reflective than usual. So hunker down, boys and girls.

I have always, always struggled with a sense of mediocrity.

It’s certainly not the worst internal argument one can have, but it’s mine, so back off. It permeates most aspects of my life, and is an undercurrent, a theme, to how I live my life.

There are many things I wish I were better at: writing, art, music, mothering. But the one place I feel the greatest sadness in the midst of this mediocrity is in my faith.

I have truly, unequivocally, unintentionally, and irreparably encountered Jesus Christ. I have walked tightly bound to Him, I have tentatively tested His claim on me, I have learned a great deal about His love, His humanity, His divinity.

I have experienced His grace, His beauty, His artistry. I have been touched by His gifts, by His gifted. I have accepted His existence and sovereignty as Truth.

I have even denied His claims as Savior, only to come crawling back.

And I find myself asking: how does one so undeniably come face-to-face with Christ and yet remain complacent, even satisfied?

How is it that I often find myself so blasé, so unmoved by the reality of the cross? And on the heels of that, how do I reach for the right amount of awe, of reverence? Rather, how do I overcome?

So what do I give, how do I draw closer to the heart of God? How do I show proper attention, respect, to what occurred years ago in Calvary? I can never wrap my mind around the “why”; my heart and mind are far from capable. But everyday as I crave to understand, I can maybe a little bit start to see the “how.”

For generations, literally thousands of years, mankind reached for God through a smokescreen. GOD, worthy only of the purest adoration…an uncountable number of blood sacrifices made, the incense of fresh, pure blood completely necessary to simply mask the stench of human behavior, our very unchangeablecore. It was simply unavoidable. The Lord, a star-crossed Lover, desperate for us, but hindered by His very nature, rendered helpless. The one thing God cannot do, deny Himself, deny who He is.

For those thousands of years, these blood sacrifices ugly and necessary, the high price for a few moments in God’s favor, until the stink of human nature overwhelms the warm fragrance of sacrifice. I can hardly imagine the frustration, the heartbreak of the Lord, having to draw the veil shut too quickly, much, much too soon, the fellowship between Creator and creation cut too short, the passage into God’s throne room sweet but sadly temporary. As the blood cools, the unfiltered thoughts, darkest acts of sin, waft up, and God must turn away in disgust.

His Majesty torn – desperate for our adoration, repulsed by our action.

Imagine now His planning, His scheming, for more time with His beloveds, no more stolen moments, but an eternity, an ultimate sacrifice, One whose blood will not run dry, will not cake, will not lose its fragrance, One who is more powerful and potent than even the dirtiest of sinful stench, a perfume not to mask the odor, but to wash it completely away.

When Christ came to earth, from the very first beat of His human heart, He was fully intended to be that Sacrifice. He willingly spilled His blood to cover our sin, not just the sin of those who jeered Him, who cast the stones, stole His clothing, scoffed at His claims to divinity, demanded in crazed fervor for His death, His humiliation.

But also for the sin we walk in today, tomorrow, constantly, unintentionally, the struggles we feebly attempt to overcome, the pathetic mediocrity we wallow in, the lack of grandeur, the fading awe, the half-hearted reverence.

His blood, today, tomorrow, still warm, still sweet, still washing away the rotten stench of our sins as we unabashedly walk in God’s favor, forever beneath the tide of Jesus’ blood, never having to turn away, never being turned away, never more than a thought, a whispered prayer, away from the Holiest of Holies; our star-crossed Lover who so, so desperately and willingly bought an eternity with His beloved. The cost another sacrifice, the cost a human sacrifice, the price the only One worthy of such favor, the price of His beloved Son, divine, heavenly, powerful, good.

How, then, can I remain unmoved by such a bold and urgent act? How is it possible to daily ignore such devotion? And yet the Lord, constantly taking that gamble, the prize being me. He didn’t hedge His bets – I am far from worth it. God willingly — desperately, feverishly — traded His Son, His perfect, pure, complete Son, for me, dry, ashamed, damaged, weak, fickle, regrettable, inconsistent, and average in every way.

How do I make that my reality? Not just a revelation, an afterthought, a reflection, but a way of living my life? How do I turn the reality of the cross into just that – my reality, my identity? Do I just allow its grandness to overwhelm me, sweep me away, fully aware of my unworthiness, fully aware of its absurdity, Truth only because God is in the equation?

Or do I ignore the nonsensical, throwing out my inhibitions, and strive passionately to be an active part of that reality?

How do I passionately live as Christ so passionately died?

To try…to try to make myself worthy of such generous love. To try and live up to the bigger, grander picture that God sees when He looks at me and does not forget. To be more than just a hapless, helpless recipient, to strive for almost equal footing in this love story.

God intended each of us for greatness; there is no doubt in my mind. He tucked that greatness in us, He wove that grandeur into our core, He hints at our infiniteness, He nudges us into the spotlight, He urges us to clothe ourselves in the beauty, to put on our God-images, to step into Him again, as intended, as we were created to do.

Finally, finally, the picture is complete. Finally, the sacrifice is sufficient, permanent. How can I remain unchanged, untouched, when my very existence, my very nature is now coated with an everlasting fragrance, Jesus’ blood sweeter, stronger than anything in this world, sweeter, stronger than even my deepest atrocities?

How does each day remain mundane when the reality is the exact antonym?

How can I settle for mediocrity while knowing, no matter how inconsistently I know, that the Creator of things much lovelier gazes upon me with devotion, longing, even jealousy?

How can I settle for mediocrity when He expects, sees, much, much more, because of how He formed me?

How can I accept myself as forgettable when God’s very undivided attention is on me, His pursuit passionate, His declaration clear?

How is that anything but the reality of the cross?

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14 Comments

Filed under Faith

14 responses to “An Empty Sheet, A Borrowed Grave, Salvation

  1. I struggle with this same thing. I can’t say anything about it that you haven’t, so thank you for being open. I wish I had an answer.

    • I think the answer is just to deliberately crave God.

      But dang it, I’m lazy.

      • I was once told that if you take a starving child to a feast, he won’t know what to do, he won’t be able to eat much at all. But, the more you make him eat over the next few months, the more he will desire to eat at each sitting. I know it’s a metaphor, I’m just not quite sure how to apply it spiritually.

      • Oh so much DITTO I can hardly stand it! I struggle along the same lines. I’ve heard it compared to being so thirsty and purposefully reading books on how to quench thirst. We know the best solution is to drink up, but we avoid what’s best for us sometimes.

  2. Oh, Jess, I appreciate your bold vulnerability here. I think we all struggle with this to a degree. I wonder if knowing there’s nothing we can do to earn or keep our salvation lessens the impact of such scandalous grace in our day to day lives.

    There’s so much I could say but perhaps it boils down to this. Every day I pray for strength to face whatever comes my way, that whomever I interact with would see God in me, and that I would be open to the bigger story of my life. Our strivings on their own won’t accomplish much but continually drawing God in will lift us out of the mediocrity.

  3. This is stirring, beautiful, and powerful. So evocative of the heart of our God and His passion for us. I struggle with this as well, wondering why what I know to be true doesn’t ring loudly in my everyday life. Struggling against and then yielding to apathy, back and forth. You’ve captured the fight in here and the truth as well. Thanks for reviving this post.

  4. Maybe, just maybe, you just need that love revelation. He isn’t looking at your performance! He already has your heart and loves you. The Christian life is about constantly encountering His love for you and in return you say with your life “I love you too!” it’s an all natural process that His love does in us. We are meant to be at rest. Hebrews 4:9. Rest and love and joy and peace. Blessing on you mighty woman of God!

    • It’s being privy to that love everyday, being let in on the mysteries of Heaven one at a time that spurs me on to crave. But that craving is inconsistent, and oh, how I wish it weren’t. That is the struggle.

  5. This season has me asking that question – how do I crave the divine? It seems like it would be a simple thing considering the ridiculous things I smuggle around all day, every day.

    It’s not simple.

  6. Wow! Love your sincerity and words. I sometimes (or perhaps often) struggle with living in the reality of Christ’s resurrection. It’s crazy and sad how quickly I can become immune to His majesty and great love for us.

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