The Gift I'll Never Understand
by Janet Eriksson
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It was Good Friday and I didnít want to go to church. That had never been the case. From the time I was a toddler, I was aware of being in church on Good Friday, and of wanting to be there. It always rained too. Not this year. This was a beautiful day. Somehow that made it harder.
I had planned to go to church; I was the one who asked if we would have Communion. It seemed important to me. Now the time had come Ė a beautiful, sunny afternoon Ė and I didnít want to go.
My heart felt heavy as I got in the car and drove to town. I would go near the church, maybe walk around a little, and reserve the right not to go in. That sounded crazy to me, but thatís what my heart felt. I searched my heart, just a little: Why does it feel so heavy, God? I didnít sense an answer, and Iím not sure I wanted one.
I parked in the church lot and planned to walk in the opposite direction, to the town square. My feet seemed to turn. They led me toward the church. Okay, so I donít really want to miss Communion, God.
I walked past the sanctuary, and made some excuse to myself about something I needed down the hall. Finally I ran out of excuses. The heaviness was huge as I walked through the sanctuary doors.
It wasnít a formal service, simply a drop-in Communion. I picked up a prayer and scripture guide from a table at the back, and I sat down in the back row. I usually sit in the front row, but this was as close as I could get. I read through the prayers, feeling disconnected from what I thought I should have been feeling.
Then I opened a pew Bible and looked for the scripture verses listed. They took me to a sad, familiar place where a man whose only crime was to die for my sin was on trial for his life. I looked up at the empty cross behind the altar. How did You do it? No Ö What did You do?
The heaviness fell on me as if a five-story brick building had collapsed over my head. Finally I understood why every part of me had resisted coming into the sanctuary on this day.
The Lord Jesus has taken me through a season of healing in my heart that has gone seven years so far, and continues. With each new day, He invites me to die to more of myself, to be crucified with Him in my fleshly ways (Galatians 2:20). Iíve said yes and Iíve walked it out with Him. The changes in my heart and in my life have been incredible. He amazes me more and more every day.
It hasnít been easy to give Him my fears and my self-hatred and the walls around my heart, but by the power of the cross, I was able to let go and receive His love in return. That took years, but together we did it, He and I.
Through it all, thereís one part of me that has struggled the most to come to death, and that is my mind. God has blessed me with an amazing mind, but it so often stands between me and His love. Iíve asked Him to nail my mind to the cross; to cleanse it, purify it and renew it by His power (Romans 12:2). His Word says I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). I want to walk in that truth.
What a struggle to let go. Within that struggle, the most painful part is realizing I cannot understand His ways, no matter how hard I try. Nor am I supposed to. In Isaiah 55:8-9 God makes it clear that His thoughts are not my thoughts. My spirit wants to accept that but my mind struggles so much.
Thatís why I felt such heaviness, coming to Communion on Good Friday. I didnít realize it until that moment, but the height of the battle between my mind and my spirit lies in the cross and what happened at Calvary. I canít understand what the Lord did for me and for every single person on that day. I canít comprehend it. Iíll never know the depth of the price He paid. As Christians we say that all the time, but really, itís not just words. Itís a truth that is so hard to take: I will never actually know. I could never begin to fathom everything He went through Ė felt, thought, said, did, fought, defeated. My mind is so small, and He is so Ö everything.
I looked at the empty cross, the tears bringing relief that I could finally feel something, other than this heavy emptiness.
How can I approach You? I donít even know what Youíve done for me, and I have nothing to give You.
He reminded me that was pride.
So I canít even give You my humility. Iím a mess if I come to You for Communion, and Iím a mess if I donít. Iím a mess either way, and somehow You love me, and You died for me. I donít even know what that was like for You; I just know You did it.
I looked at the cross again. Iíd never felt so helpless. Even ďhelplessĒ is too strong a word, as if itís a decision I might have made. I wasnít able to feel helpless; I just was. I felt incapable of being anything but helpless.
How can I come to You, Jesus?
I heard His voice deep in my heart. It shook the emptiness, and the heaviness disappeared.
You can come to Me, not because of anything you do, but because Iím asking you. Respond to Me. Iím here to give you life. Itís what I want to do for you. Itís my gift. To you. Itís not yours to understand. Itís yours to receive. You canít even do that on your own, but I will help you to do it.
Iíve never beheld a gift so precious, and a gift so impossible to receive. Yet itís a gift I cannot refuse. I dare not. Itís a gift I canít do anything about, except humble my heart and hold out my hands. Because He said so.
Iíve been a Christian my whole life; 47 years. Iíve spent the past seven years learning how to open the depths of my heart to a Redeemer who already knows every dark and tender corner. To a Savior who has written Salvation on my heart with His blood. To a Lord who loves me so much I canít even comprehend who I am to Him.
Despite this walk with Him, after 47 years I still donít know what He did for me that day, except what Heís told me, and what Heís shown me through the changes in my life, by His power. As I received Communion on that Good Friday afternoon, and as I continue to ask the Lord to bring to death my fleshly mind, I am trying to learn there are some gifts I have to accept without understanding. I have to be okay with that. I really donít have a choice; or if I do, itís not a choice I want to make.
The crucifixion and resurrection of my beautiful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His love for me and for every single person, is the greatest of these gifts. I donít understand this gift at all. But I hold out my hands and my heart to receive. Why? Because He is God. Heís the one who gives this gift to us, His creation, His children.
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