It was time.
Before the throne of God aboveClothing myself in this grace, and fixing make-up, hair, and nice-ish clothes that fit my post-pregnancy frame, I climbed into the car with husband and babies, trembling a little in soul.
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
I'd not faced this yet. Was I ready? I had known forgiveness myself; had I forgiven yet? Could I even acknowledge the hurt that had driven me away, acknowledge its source, open my heart again to the possibility?
Yet I had gained so much from my time away. I found Jesus. I learned to speak His name, albeit quietly yet - still I am so tentative to stand fast in Him. I learned deep what the Gospel is, what it is to me.
Maybe I could just stay where I was, leave off the horizon that drew closer the longer we drove.
I shed a few tears past the lump in my throat, trying to talk, listening, strengthened, quietened by worship, by heart-vision:
When Satan tempts me to despair,My hunger deepened, fellowship-hunger whetted and refined over months of interaction with people who know Him, people who live in different places than I live, who receive the same grace I have come to know.
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
They had not inflicted the wounds I had suffered.
There were others who had not, either. We were going to meet them. There was fear, rising, falling, like heart-palpitations.
Then we were there, and there was noise and greeting and hasty introductions echoing too loud around foyer and fainting, determined heart. Piper was happy to stay and play - a change from her must-have-Mommy cries of the past - and I slipped into a seat, with my hand in Pete's, my baby at my feet.
I didn't know the songs; had I been gone too long? No, I wouldn't have chosen or remembered them - they were a bit wishy-washy for my taste. The lump in my throat was too large for singing anyway. I looked around, wishing for a familiar face.
And I encountered Jesus.
There He was, Immanuel, God come in flesh, Holy Spirit templed in the dust around me, in the dust in me. I was not the only one in the room receiving His grace. I was not the only one who knew Him. He was here.
There were tear-tracks in my make-up now; Pete gave me a tissue. I had forgotten my purse.
"Humble us... Show us what You want us to see today." A prayer I prayed, because my spirit knew I must, because His Spirit in me responded where I had no courage. And show me, He did.
It wasn't the sermon about money, preached by a pastor younger than me. (Oh, I felt old!)
It was this: that I could not say that "I adore" Jesus, when others were singing and saying they did, truthfully from their hearts; I still measure my love for Him - I know much; I consider myself accountable, because with me it is all or nothing. There is no in-between.
It was this: that I could not look down on them because of the grace I myself had received, in which I was that moment dwelling silent on holy ground.
It was this: that I had dismissed. (It hurts to write these words.) That I had judged. That I no longer had to judge, because I was no longer judged - not by Christ, not by the One who could judge me.
I was confronted with Love, the love that sent my Savior - their Savior - to cover me in His righteous. My reactionary fears were shattering, left as ashes in my mouth, the tears I was shedding, healing tears, welcome restoration.
Behold him there, the risen Lamb,And He had not wasted my fear-time, wasted me. Instead He had come to me, met me where I was, afraid as I was, opened me to His heart and given me brave grace to live and to give what will be my whole life one day when I wake satisfied in His likeness. He had taught me to worship, to joy in His goodness, to labor and live and deliver my work for His glory, learning to do the will of God from my heart.
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I Am,
The King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by his blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God!
He was more than a Sunday morning worship time, more than a sermon application, more than small group and potlucks and Sunday School. He is more. He is Life. He is my life.
I am not yet what I will be. How can I be less patient with others than He is with me?
We have none of us arrived, but when we see Him, when we see Him as He is, then... Then we will be like Him.
Twila Paris sings, "This is the Faith, patience to wait when there is nothing clear..."
With faith not my own, I waited on God; here He bent low to wait on me.
Shared in this week's "One Word at a Time" Blog Carnival at Bridget Chumbley's blog.
(Image © Informal Moments Photography)