“17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1Cor 1)
I fell asleep on my face in my prayers this morning. It’s not the weird patterns of the carpet left on my forehead or the thought of someone finding me in this undignified state which bothers me. It’s this: if this is how my day starts, how can I hope to accomplish the works of God? Where does the believer, the saved, the saint get the energy to live a life set apart? A holy life? A life lived for God?
I make lots words. I draw funny pictures. They have a point and I spend a lot of time and effort on them and I want to see their impact. I believe they are at least in part, my calling. When I don’t see direct ripples from the pebbles I’m tossing I get discouraged. When I’m reminded I’m not doing enough to pay the bills, I doubt my calling. To make matters worse, the sinful side of me wants to be glorified for them. Where does the power come from to keep going? To trust? To overcome myself?
I was deeply effected in church on Sunday. The hymns, the music, the words, the power of fellowship with so many others… it was worship! Moments like those, where God feels so close and life makes so much more sense, are precious and few. Like time alone in nature. Like time spent holding a sleeping baby. Life has such a clear purpose and meaning then. How does one keep going when so much of the rest of life is Scottish? Cold, wet, gray and ruled by someone else. Paul, who knew something of hardship and suffering, tells us…
For all its doctrines, for all its teachings, for all the volumes of words in the myriads of books printed about it, ours is a simple faith: “8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5) Get knocked on the noggin and forget everything else but keep this deeply tucked away and engraved in the center of your life and you will be just fine.
Pray it in the morning. Repeat it at night. Say it over every meal. Whisper it before every fight. Write it on every check, dollar and bill. Cry it in the valley, sing it on the hill. I love the way a cross marks a spot. It draws the eye. It centers. It focuses. It says, “Here! Look here!” The Cross sits in the center of History. Hardly noticed by the residents of a single city at the time, it is now and forever the single most important event ever. We must not grow weary of it. We must not take it for granted. We must remember! It is the source of our strength, the source of our joy, the source of our faith! It is by what we judge and why we don’t. It’s how we forgive and why we’re forgiven. Even the strength we use to remember it comes from it. Wheels within wheels. The Spirit testifies continually about the blood of Jesus, the grace of Jesus. The Spirit is in us! “7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2Tim 1)
So do whatever you must to keep this center! “18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” (Deut 11)
“3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Prov 3)
“14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 5)