Not Your Average Will

Do you remember the movie Bruce Almighty? (This film about a narcissistic, ego-centric, ungrateful, pessimistic, money-hungry guy who has an encounter with God that changes his life.) Our three boys were watching it a few weeks ago in the backseat of the car while we travelled Rt. 80 through the pastoral hues of western PA toward our family holiday destination. And even though I couldn’t see the screen from the front passenger seat and only listened to the scenes with half an ear while reading a book, in the peripherals of my mind I was following the storyline of a movie that I hadn’t seen in more then five years. But for some reason I was pulled out of my peripheral-listening and became sharply focused right as this particular point near the end of the movie: Bruce has reached the absolute end of himself and is wandering the city streets like a person gone mental; his stagger is that of a man who’s been stripped of all his walls and has nothing left but the bare and wretched truth of his human condition. If that isn’t enough, the sky suddenly opens over his realized condition and lets-down this skin-soaking storm as if to seal his situation as dire – just in case he was mistaken about it before. He finally gives in to the inevitable and plummets to his knees on the asphalt, stretches his arms all the way east-to-west, throws his head up to heaven and shouts into the downpour, “OKAY!!! I SURRENDER TO YOUR WILL!!!” And no sooner are the words dredged from the pit of his dying narcissistic heart then he is hit square in the body by a horn-blasting semi-truck . . .

Would you follow me over to Deeper Story today to hear the rest of this narrative?

{Also: Hi!!! I’m back!!! I have updates and stories and post-sabbatical notes to share with y’all! I’m not sure how much of it I will be able to write out here, but I’m gonna do my best to clear my chest in the coming weeks. :)}

{Also, also: Hi!!! I LOOOOOOOOOVE you!!!!}

Love,

Erika

Photo Credit: Amy Ballinger via Flickr

A Little “bit” Of Jesus – 10

Matthew 11.6 “Blessed is he who takes no offense at Me.” ~ Jesus

My life has felt like a slow-walk around the figure of Jesus. Like I’m purchasing goods and want to know that the product is agreeable. Except, Who purchased who? Now there’s a strange paradox. He paid for me, but I have to take Him home.

But, the reason I slow-walk is not so I can size Him up. No, I just want to see Him. Oh, I want to see Him.

I’ve been around His body a few times, looked Him over one side, down the other, examined the lines criss-crossing His carpenter-rough palms, deep-inhaled the fragrance of His hair, caressed my fingers over the contours of His face, traced emotion lines from forehead to eye corner, knelt low before His feet so my vague vision could catch a glimpse of His travel-worn callouses, laid softest hands full-open to touch the torn skin of His back . . .

Every element of His person I really and truly behold with my senses, looks and feels like a parallel experience that I have lived through with Him – side to wounded side – and genuinely caught chest-deep comprehension for.

That one year we fought 365 days to save our marriage, looked a lot like broken skin to me.

This year, we lost our home and it feels a lot  like a travel-worn callous.

Thank-you, Jesus, for Your laugh lines through it all.

I know that I have missed countless details, but I also know that I get many, many, many more rotations around the Son. I look forward to the circular journey even though all my historical evidence proclaims that I will be pressed and pushed and pulled apart by the process. I look forward to it because I become to look like Him more and more  - complete with loving eyes, broken skin and dirty feet – and I think He’s just The Unbelievable.

These thoughts pulse in my heart when I read a Jesus-quoted verse in Matthew, “Blessed is he who takes no offense at Me.”

“All these revolutions, all this viewing, all our experiences together, and I still can’t find anything offensive about You.

Mine.

Jesus, holy and wild Christ.”

I do not consider it offensive that the proclaimed God of the universe, Savior of the world was born in a feed trough, grew up in “nothing good can come from there”, was raised a carpenter’s Son, preached good news to the poor when everyone knew He was the poorest of them all, picked His clothes out of the Goodwill leftovers, washed the feet of His subjects like He was their servant, told the poor they were rich and the weak they were strong, professed the persecuted to be blessed and the meek that they would have the largest inheritance, told us to love our enemies and become like dirty-faced, bubble-gum chewing children – of all things.

“The blind receive their sight

and the lame walk,

the lepers are cleansed

the deaf hear,

the dead are raised up,

and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

And blessed is he who takes no offense at Me.” Matthew 11.5-6

You do look like an absurd and sacred Joke in the world full of systems and equations – You don’t “fit” – but I cannot take offense at the strangeness of You. I cannot take offense at Your paradox-ed gospel. I cannot take offense at what You’ve done to me each time I turn circles around Your anatomy, around Your life.

“No, Jesus, the offenses You are known for, are the reasons I keep walking loops on the outside of You . . . to get to the inside of You.”