On Good Friday, April 10, 2009, I'm reflecting on many thoughts that are racing through my mind.
What does the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ really mean to me? Has it made a substantial impact on my life? Has it changed me for the better? Am I bearing fruit because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior?
I was reading from the book of Habakkuk the other day, when I came across his statement to the Lord in Habakkuk 2:13, "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong." So that literally means that Father God cannot even bear to see the evil in me. It's not even possible for him to do it, because he is so pure and holy. So there was only one way to look past my sins - - through the death of Jesus Christ. When I try to come to some kind of a very, limited grasp on this mystery, knowing very well that I won't even scratch the surface to understanding it, I try to picture just myself in the eye of the storm. I try to picture just my sins and just the evil that I am capable of doing and being. I guess it's more tangible to do that than to think of the world's crimes. So just keeping in mind the debt that I have piled up, I'm blown away by the enormity of it! Where does it start? Where does it end? So just imagining my sins alone on his back, I'm forced to wonder how he endured it? Now take that and multiply it by the sins of all of the earth's inhabitants in the past, present, and future.
I still remember to this day when I was 6 years old, sitting on my daddy's knee, on Good Friday. My dad had my baby sister on his other knee. He was telling us a story; not just any story, but about the most controversial and heartbreaking story of all time. He was trying to explain to his girls the significance of Good Friday and Easter. I absorbed everything my dad said like a sponge. I was eagerly anticipating his every word. I remember my cheeks being burnt by hot tears rolling down, while I tried to make sense of it all. I was infuriated over the injustice my Jesus had to suffer. How dare they spit at him! How dare they humiliate him! How dare they put a velvet robe on him to showcase him as a clown! How dare they flog him and tear his body to shreds! How dare they put a crown of thorns on his head! How dare they soak a sponge with wine vinegar for him to drink, when he complained of thirst! How dare they bleed him to death on a cross! I was inconsolably outraged. But all the while, humbled and thankful for what he was willing to do and what he had done in obedience to his Father. Little did I know that my dad was sowing seeds in my life then, which would later take root and grow into a loving relationship with my heavenly Father today. I thank God every day for that moment of truth I had with my earthly Father and with my heavenly Father.
I've a personal relationship with this Christ who once hung on a cross. I talk with him every day. He meets with me every day. He talks back to me through the Bible. We have conversations every day about everything in my life from how to be a better student to how much I miss my husband to how to stop being anxious all the time to why my hair has lost all its thickness. In response to my latter concern, he repeats to me what he said in Luke 12:7, "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." That is a reminder to me on how involved he is with every detail of my life.
Albeit, I am convicted by the Holy Spirit to ask one poignant question on this Good Friday. How much of an impact does Good Friday or Easter have on me and my life today? Or the question I really should ask is what kind of an impact does he want me to have. That definitely brings me to my knees and to a place of increasing self-reflection.
- Where am I failing him?
- In which areas of my life am I disappointing him?
- What in my life breaks his heart?
- Am I living out his best for me or am I settling for second best?
- Am I being his light in this very dark world?
- Am I using my time efficiently?
- Am I really loving my neighbor as myself?
- Is my love sincere or is it mostly fake?
- Am I doing the job I'm entrusted with faithfully?
- Am I a forgiving person ?
- Am I praising God in all circumstances: the good, the bad, and the ugly?
- Do I gossip?
- Do I trust him with everything in my life or do I pick and choose?
- Do I bend the truth, when it's convenient for me?
- Am I a person of utmost integrity?
- Am I trustworthy?
- Do I live a life of transparency?
- Am I increasing in my talents?
I am a child of God because of the cross and not because of anything good I have in me or through me or by me. In Ephesians 2:4, Apostle Paul says, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." There is no way I can ever do anything to deserve this gift. Then in Ephesians 2:8, Paul drives it home by emphasizing, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
Although I am saved by the cross of Christ, I want to be compelled by the love that was shown on the cross for me to live in such a way that I make him smile when he looks at me. I don't want to be misunderstood here. I am not by any means alluding that I can win God's favor or grace or mercy by being "good" vs. "bad." The Holy Spirit has been working on me for a long time to help me realize that there is actually nothing that I can possibly do to make him stop loving me. This is confirmed in Romans 8:38,39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus." That being said, I don't want him to grieve over me. I don't want his heart being hurt over me in any way. Moreover, I don't want to miss out on God's best for my life. For example, I'm sure I can maximize my energy and my time and thus increase productivity in my studying, if I get the right amount of sleep and if I eat the right kinds of food and if I organize the hours of the day better. I correlate those positive changes with God's best for me. Another example could be to free myself of anxiety. I'm the kind of person who worries about not having something to worry about. Well, it's about high time I change from being that kind of a person to the kind of person God wants me to be. In Philipians 4:6,7, it says, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Now that sounds like a panacea to all problems!
This is just like a love relationship between a husband and a wife or a parent and a child. When you love someone so much, it won't hurt you to obey them or to respect them or to love them back. Jesus said while he was on the earth in John 14:15, "If you love me, obey my commandments." His words are curtailed by its simplicity and its immensity.
I want to live in such a way that I remember the cross of Christ not just on Good Friday or on Easter of every year, but in every waking moment. I want it to resonate through my being and through my life. On this day, I am convicted by the Holy Spirit to not be complacent in my walk with the Lord. The significance of this day can't be written about or blogged about or spoken about in any manner to contain it to a mere, few words or emotions. Its significance is of life and death. Because of the cross, I have life. Because of the cross, you have life. I want to remember his words, "If you love me, obey my commandments," and more importantly, put it into practice.