“You don’t belong here.” The man starts at the words. They did not come from those nearby; the words came from deep inside him. He wonders if the others hear; do they ever feel the strain? The singing begins,
“Behold the man upon the cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;”
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.”
All of his shame is gathering against the hastily constructed shell he has built. He can barely contain it as it seeks release through his eyes and ears, mouth, heart and hands. As the pressure builds, his eyes well up with tears. If he could, he would run down the aisle and find God’s throne, throw himself at His feet, and cry and cry and cry.
“It was my sin that held Him there:
Until it was accomplished.”
The disparity between what he is feeling now as he sings with his wife and what he felt a short hour ago at home is enormous. The shell he is striving to keep intact contains the sin that he does not want to admit is real. However, here before God, all things are real and God presses hard for the shell to be broken and emptied.
“His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.”
God’s pressure is persistent, but warm and loving, and the man finally yields, gratefully surrendering his rotten treasure…
He slammed his forearm into the bathroom door, cracking at least the paint around the jamb and sending slivers and chips into the hallway. He turns and looks in the mirror at the eyes that he has always seen at times like this. They pierce and they avoid, they are full of life, but somehow dead. He is amazed at how quickly feelings can turn to words and words to anger, and anger to violence. What started as a typical morning, such a wonderful morning, turned into a morning full of disillusionment, pain and darkness. He thinks about the night before and the fun they had at dinner with friends, bedtime with the kids, talking on the couch. He thinks about how he had looked forward to this day and its promise. He had woken early to pray, spent time with his youngest, prepared breakfast and then watched as he once again helped hell to enter his house.
Shaking free from his own gaze he looks at his hands and is again shocked at the suddenness of the fall. These hands lashed out in anger and pushed and slammed and threw and pounded. He clenches his hands and they throb from the impact of the abuse that he wrought with them. He turns and runs the water for the shower, being careful to close the curtain to prevent any water from leaking out. The irony of this caution in light of the immediacy of his willful destruction is worse than the mirror and he starts to tremble…
“I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.
He stands before God with his broken shell, his hands are raised up and empty and his heart bleeds to be made whole. He is again amazed at the breadth of God’s love for him. “What is man that you take thought of him? And the son of man that you care for him?” Once for all and all, once- that is Christ, and that is all that I have.