Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Easter Story You Haven't Heard

The weight of a lifetime of shame and utter worthlessness hung on her neck--a burden far too heavy for such a frame. All the words that had been spoken against her--countless stones cast over the years--left bruises that would not heal. She could barely lift her head to cast her eyes to the heavens--eyes that grew dim from searching for hope. "Harlot," "Daughter of an addict," "Sinner," "What a waste!" Battered and beaten, she was abandoned by the very ones who had been chosen to nurture her. The sole cry of her broken heart is, "Abba, don't leave me!"

Sounds like the description of the lost, doesn't it? But, it's not. It doesn't seem like the daughter of a King should live this way, but how many of us secretly live these lives because we have been stuffing our emotions, afraid to admit that we are broken.

She walks in obedience to her Heavenly Father, but she does not understand His love for her. The only love she has ever known is conditional upon her usefulness. She chases after God and fights desperately to be useful to Him because she fears He will abandon her if she fails. She thinks God's love is only for others through her, but it is never truly her own.

Holy Eucharist service--someone gives a stirring homily about the redemption of suffering on the cross. She understands that better than most anyone in the room. No one there knows where she has been--what she has done. But, her view is distorted by her pain. In her mind, God redeemed her suffering only so she can serve others.

One desperate prayer before taking the bread and the cup--"Father, speak to me! Make me holy as You are holy. Help me! Abba, I'm afraid. Don't leave me!"

Knees touch the padded altar and immediately, painful images fill her mind--the kind of images she doesn't want to see--the kind of images she has been running from. She sees a slideshow of the most painful memories of her life--all the shame and blinding, searing pain. Tears begin to slide down her cheeks as she hears a gentle voice.

"I was there. I did not leave you. I was with you in the midst of all those things, experiencing your pain with you. I felt how much it hurt--how it killed bits and pieces of you until you felt dead. It killed Me, too. You see, I didn't just walk that path with you. I took all that suffering, pain, and shame and I bore it upon the cross. It was so heavy, I knew you could not bear it, so I bore it for you. But, I couldn't let death have the last word. I rose again so that suffering would never have the power to hold your heart captive again. I died and rose again to set you free--not because I want to use you and not because I want to love others through you, but because I love you. Yes, I will redeem those situations, and I will work through you to reach others, but My love is for you! I did it for you!"

I dipped the bread in the cup and gratefully, humbly feasted on His love.

In Him, through Him, and for Him,

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