geezeronthequad: He Breathes Steel Into the Spine of Our Soul
“You don’t know her, do you?” Sitting there with ignorance on my face (I do this a lot; it’s a gift really.), I just said no. I sat with a couple from the church while one of their kids underwent surgery. A nurse walked up and I knew they knew her. But I sat there clueless. The wife just smiled, really savoring the punch line. “This is Cheryl” (not her name). My mouth doesn’t just drop open very often. Even in complete befuddlement, I manage to keep it closed. But not here. I hadn’t crossed paths with Cheryl in a while and didn’t recognize her. We first met through a street ministry in town where I would preach occasionally. Saying she was a train wreck would be an upgrade for train wrecks everywhere. She lived on the street with all its perils and pitfalls. But now she stood in front of me, a nurse coming off shift, thoroughly enjoying my surprise as well. She was off the street, gotten her health together, been to school, gotten this job. She was making it. Sure, I was glad but that isn’t what dropped my jaw. She glowed from the inside out. She showed music in her eyes and her laugh sparkled (Mixed metaphor, I know.) She had fizz. It’s a good thing my eyes asked, “What happened to you?” It sure wasn’t coming out of my mouth. She simply said, “Jesus.” She was thinking, “Jesus, duh!”
We throw the word “grace” around like confetti at a Stanley Cup victory parade. But for those for whom “grace” becomes medicine in the deep self-inflicted wound of their own sinfulness, it’s more. They find that in spite of their brokenness, coming to the Cross of Jesus Christ breathes steel into the spine of their souls. “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalms 3:3) Lifting the head shows more than the removal of shame; it describes the infusing of new dignity. Let’s look at a select group of people meeting Jesus.
Zaccheus, a tax collector shucking and jiving for Rome and lining his pockets with his countrymen’s money, was probably destined to be pincushioned with the long daggers of the Zealots. His people thought him scum and money never washes away the inside filth he carried – especially dirty money. (Luke 19:1-10) Leprosy doesn’t have that ugly ring to it when we call it Hansen’s disease. But ugly it can be. Parents tell their children not to look at us. Our own loved ones seem repulsed and ashamed. And forget any semblance of being touched, hugged or held. (Mark 1:40-43) A woman caught in the act of adultery dragged through the streets, gawked at, maybe wrapped in little more than a sheet. The stones crushing her would only cap the humiliation and shame, the guilt (Shame and guilt are not the same.) the hypocrisy and the betrayal ripping her apart. Would others be too embarrassed to even claim her body? (John 8:1-11) We have angels all wrong. Forget the Precious Moment cuties. While biblically they can take any form needed, in their element they are quite powerful, even terrifying. They don’t say “Fear not!” for nothing. But when all that power gets channeled into music, it’s better than Duke Ellington with Cat Anderson on lead trumpet. At the announcement of Jesus’ birth, angels beyond number cut loose with an explosion of music and praise unsurpassed by anything else laid down in space and time. And just who had the prime seats for this gig? Shepherds. The lowest of the working class, held in contempt as being dumb or ignorant. When we announce births, who gets on the short list? The most important people. When God announces His Son becoming human, who gets the first ring (And what a ring up it was!)? (Luke 2:8-20)
After World War II, General Bernard Montgomery wrote a book of biographical sketches of great political and military leaders in Great Britain’s history. He penned one about his former boss, Winston Churchill. When asked what made Churchill so great, so much the man for the hour during the war, Montgomery said, “There was something about Winston Churchill that could turn the lead of the common man to gold.” If Churchill made men gold, then Jesus Christ makes them platinum.
All these mentioned above and more grew a clean inch at the touch of Jesus Christ, not just because of the forgiveness, cleansing and healing He brings. He moves in, indwelling us through the Holy Spirit. He sees us as someone worth loving. He clearly envisions us becoming people we never would imagine and our lives spent alongside His to staunch the bleeding of a wounded world. The old clichés, “God don’t make no junk”, is true. We do that ourselves with help from others. But those just mentioned who saw themselves as nothing but garbage with feet always got swallowed up in the gaze of New Eyes rewriting the name on their story. Their own dignities, cover-ups and denials had to die. But something new remained tha would or could never drop their eyes in shame or guilt again. I listened to a new Christian talking on the radio about her faith. She said with unmistakable, yet gentle, force, “Understand that this isn’t something I ‘believe‘. It’s something I know.” You could hear the platinum in her voice.
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Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.