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Monday, April 17, 2017
When I Was At My Worst
Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.
Since Christ’s blood has now given us God’s approval, we are even more certain that Christ will save us from God’s anger.
~ Romans 5:7-9, GW ~
Holidays. They bring out the best in people and the worst in people.
Forty days of Lent all crescendo with the solemnity of Holy Thursday and Good Friday followed by the joy of Easter Sunday. While the whole of Christendom centers around these few days on the calendar, the practical demands can be overwhelming.
For the average family, the usual pressures close in. Which relatives will we be spending the holiday with? The kids need new clothes for church on Sunday! What will we put in the Easter baskets this year? Ugh. The candy! And oh, the craziness of spring break!
Now add to that layer the challenges of parenting a child with a disability, a chronic illness, a rare disease, or special needs. Spending the holiday with relatives suddenly looks like being repeatedly criticized as your child struggles in an unfamiliar setting with lots of commotion. Sensory processing issues make a fancy dress or a nice tie an impossibility. Being stuck in a hospital with your child may eliminate the chance to worship at church. Or if you can get to a church, the noise and lack of inclusive accommodations may just make you feel that it's not worth the effort. Easter candy? Dietary restrictions can turn this time of year into endless contention between you and your child. And that sudden one-week break in the family routine can make this brief vacation feel like torture.
It's easy to feel bitter, contentious, and resentful when you're in this position as a parent.
There is a soul fracture between practical life and faith. We should be feeling joyous, but instead, we often feel irritated by extended family for their lack of understanding during yet another holiday. The awe of the resurrection should be overwhelming our hearts, but we act like all of the rest of the world owes us something because of our overwhelming circumstances. We should be celebrating Jesus' victory over death, but we become cranky, and edgy, and fed up with everyone around us.
Here has been the game-changer for me this year: Although I've heard it hundreds of times, it finally sank into my heart that Jesus couldn't be any more in love with me than when I am at my worst. I don't have to "get right" with Him before He is willing to give His life up for me and offer me total forgiveness. So when I'm grumbling under my breath about the nasty relatives, Jesus says, "I'll still go to the cross for you, Barb." When I'm blowing my stack or saying something unkind to my husband, Jesus doesn't think less of me, He wants to set me free. Like the little kid who feels ashamed when they've blown it and gotten their Easter clothes torn and filthy, Christ takes me by the hand, washes me clean, and makes me good as new. That blows my mind!
If that's how I am loved when I am at my worst, how can I withhold that sort of love and forgiveness from others? The death and resurrection of Jesus is a living example that I need to offer those relatives extra grace because I am no less a sinner than they. I need to exchange my attitude of entitlement, indignity, and pride for a spirit of boundless gratitude. I need to offer that church of mine some mercy because they are trying to accommodate so many people at Easter, and they honestly have zero training on how to build an inclusive environment for worship. The serenity of soaking in resurrection awe needs to replace my contentious resentment.
I'm so grateful that Jesus never gives up on us, even when we are seemingly the most unlovable. Now you and I need to go and do the same because of the magnitude of such a crazy, relentless love.
PRAY: Jesus, it was ME yelling, "Crucify him!" on Good Friday, yet You were still willing to die for me. My mind is blown! Take over and spill out that same sort of love through me, so that I can offer mercy and forgiveness to others who are sinners just like me.