It’s been a long week. Stressful and trying in many ways, but it was, as so often happens, educational nonetheless.
The week (Sunday the 18th) started with an encounter with a woman named Bess. She’s homeless and working her way back to a state of solidarity. I talked with her awhile that day and we discussed God, and how these events teach us to know God and trust God, and realize the transience of this world. From here, the week rotted. It was busy at work, stressful all around, I’ve lost my patience on a few occasions and failed a time or ten. But, as they say, it works out in the end.
Now, in the quiet aftermath, I’ve had time to better digest these events and I’m left with this image: a figure, who is me but not me, hanging on a cross, while I look on with scars on my arms.
If this were a story, Bess’s conversation would be the foreshadowing; the week of conflict the journey; and the final image a resolution. Bess’s conversation points to God, as though to say “Listen, you are about to endure some things which will cause you grief, but will also temper you and your faith.”
The conflict acts as a microcosm of how it is to live in sin (which is to live for oneself and not for God). Because living a life of the self, by the self, for the self, leads only to malcontentment.
And the image of the cross is the completed idea that the old self is dead, and we have been resurrected with Christ- bearing the marks of our crucifixion and our old life, not as marks of condemnation, but as testimony to our transformation with and through Christ.
But this is the ongoing process- we learn by seeking God in all things, both good and bad, that we learn to pray (which is to turn our thoughts to God and speak to a friend). We learn to pray in triumph, in failure, in peace, in war, in calm, in chaos- in all times, at all times, praying to know God and seek The Kingdom, praising God that we may bless the world; all sinners and saints, friends and enemies.
It’s Ephesians, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Ephesians 2:1-5 )
And you know, as is usually the case, all these sequences are just a reminder of what has been said and resaid: I am a sinner in need of help, full of flaws and imperfections. I cannot save myself with 10’000 good deeds or by any act of piety. I am saved by grace.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galations 2:19-21 )
I hope things are well with you,