Friday, April 14, 2017

The God-Man Who bore our abandonment -


"Lord, You're weeping with me, help me to believe, 
that when my heart is heavy as a stone, You say I'm not alone...."

I've been struggling to know how to write this, and holding back a lot, because .... come "Easter week"
.... there's a million emotions and thoughts, and they seem like a mixed up mess, but I'm going to try.
I'm going to try and let you in to see what I saw and feel what I feel. 

But I don't quite know how to say this....

Last night at the Maundy Thursday/Good Friday service, when the lights all went out, 
I sat staring in the heavy silence at the smoke wisping up from the smothered Christ candle, 
and I was surprised to find that tears were filling my eyes and running down my cheeks. 

I haven't felt so real in a public space in the last 6 months than I did in that one crystalized moment. 
Deep. Dark. Grief. 

"Jesus, this is how I feel every day." 

It was odd to have a third of my church family sitting in the same dark grief with me, all of us 
grieving. It is a feeling I have rarely known, for grief is lonely and confusing even for us who walk in it.

There's so much joy in my life, and I'm so so grateful for that. 
But there is also agony. Deep hurt. Agonizing pain. Questions born out of love torn away.
Darkness which has no piercing light or explanations for future glories.
Most days, I don't know what to do with it, so I just......leave it. Take a deep breath, keep going.

{Photo taken on a day I didn't even feel close to whole.}

For the past few weeks, whenever I've thought of Resurrection Sunday,
 I've immediately thought of my China orphans. And I haven't understood why until today. 

For the first time in my life, I've truly understood the deep pain of abandonment. 

I walked into a room where my China babies lived and I heard the voice of God whisper:
"This is My love for you." 

I held them for a week and wept and prayed over them and told them God loved them more than
anyone ever could and I lost my MIND that a sinful society shamed their parents into believing 
anything other than that their babies have great and unchanging worth in our world. 
Oh, how they missed out!!! 

I looked into the eyes of orphans, and I saw myself there, and yet I felt SO
 unworthy to be in the presence of such joy amid hardship and suffering. 

"Jesus, this is You. You are here. You were here before we were, and You are here now." 

One day when I held my beloved Joely boy in my arms,  rocking him in the window's sunlight, 
I didn't know what to pray over him. Tears were running down my face and dripping onto my shirt, 
and all I could choke out amid the tears was: "You'll always be perfect to me, Joel."

It was important to me that he knew that. This sweet little boy who wasn't on the list. 
That I saw past his tiny little frame, how he couldn't even hold himself up without falling over,
and how insurmountable his odds seemed on gaining weight and running instead of army crawling.

But he didn't NEED to be better. He WAS perfect. We are not our bodies. We are souls.  

I could see right to the heart of what being an orphan was, and it was being without those God gave you to love you.
Being an orphan meant being alone, even while being surrounded by peers. 

It meant your life was torn apart by grief and loss. It meant you needed a new family. 
It meant everything you thought meant safety now was gone and you didn't have a home. 
It meant when you cried at night, your parents wouldn't come to hold you. You were alone.
It meant you were torn away from the ones who were supposed to/or loved you most. 

I don't know what it's like to be an orphan.
But my Mama's heart woke up the minute I walked into that happy sunlight room with giggling babies, 
and as I fiercely, adoringly, instantly loved those children...

I felt it. I saw it. 

They looked to their nannies, their friends; they looked to me and called me "Mama".
And it shattered my heart. 

 I now know what abandonment looks like in the eyes of a child. 

It's brought me fiery anger, a strong desire to fix it: any and all of it, fierce love and protection,
and it's torn down walls of appearing "fine" and crushed me to weeping openly on buses and in cars. 

It has NOT left me whole. It has torn me apart. It has left me crushed. 

I flew back home and struggled to adjust to an American world, when the Chinese one felt so comforting,
although lacking in so many children running in freedom. I wondered what on earth I'd just learned.
 I wondered how I could live here when all I wanted was to stay there.
How do you live when your heart has just been split into 30 other hearts?
I wondered how to present it well, when everyone wanted to hear about how amazing the trip was. 

It was SO. AMAZING. And it was SO. DEVASTATING. 

Because in the most ways the older kids could understand and in the least ways the babies just feel,
they're all there because their parents were: scared that they couldn't be enough for them or provide for them, 
or their babies couldn't be enough in this world, or their babies weren't worth enough to stay for the long haul. 

They understood abandonment. 

And now I know in a different way what that feels like. 

Some days I wonder if God brought me through a recent wonderful relationship and a 
heartbreaking breakup so I would understand abandonment on a closer level to an orphan. 

It has left me weeping at night. It has felt lonely. I've felt....not "quite" worth staying for. Not....enough.
The love didn't go deep enough for the fight to kick in. The fight that says "I won't let you go."

So what on earth does abandonment and agonizing pain
 and darkness and orphans have to do with Easter week? 

Everything. 

There is no one who has felt abandonment or agony more than Jesus on the cross, 
as the Father turned His face away. The Perfect Son sacrificed for His sinful and unfaithful Bride. 

"Lord, You're aching with me, help me to believe, 
that when my soul is lost in the storm, You're acquainted with my grief...."

I can never think about the glorious meaning of Resurrection Morning
without getting tears in my eyes.

Yet so many days feel like Good Fridays. Walking around in the dark, crying because He's gone. 
Wondering what it all was for, and why suffering is the trademark of the believing Christian, 
and how it could all go so wrong so fast, and not knowing how God could redeem such death. 
For many of us, it's the long weekend that stretches into years of sorrow and questions. 

Yet no days could be more agonizing than the days when the God-Man took on all our sin and pain,
and once and for all, bought the victory over it by His blood. His death conquered what we could not. 

"Now the daylight flees; now the ground beneath, quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life; "Finished!" the victory cry!"
- the Getty's -

His holy and sacrificial death sealed what we could never be: a Savior. 
His agony took on everything we will ever feel and know and do: every pain, every sin. 

"It is Finished"... both His part, and ours." ~ Scotty Smith

It's an insurmountable debt, yet praise Jesus that it is finished in each and every way
because I'd never be enough to pay off my debt, most days I barely hit the least little obedience mark.
"Easter week" lays me low, it strips any confidence in my goodness and tramples it under
 Jesus' slow path to Golgotha. There is no pretending when gazing at the cross. 

There is no one but Jesus. 

He hung on the cross and cried out in agony when the Father turned His face away,
so that we'd never know what that felt like. We only see the sunshine of God's love upon us.

The God-Man, who took on our abandonment and was abandoned by His Father, 
because we couldn't bear it. We only see the forever adoption by our loving Father.

We abandoned Him and yet He bore both our abandonment and the Father's on the cross for us.

He was crucified on a shameful cross so that we might be brought in as the holy children of God,
bearing all His righteousness with a white robe and flowing train and golden crown.
His death, our death. His life, our life. His righteousness, ours. His inheritance, ours.
Beloved. Children. Of. God. Bought with a price that will never run out. 

The God-Man who proclaimed victory over our pain. We know He is triumphant over every sorrow.

None of this would be possible without Jesus' death.  
Jesus died so we wouldn't be abandoned. 
Jesus died so abandonment in this life wouldn't be our story, but adoption instead. 
Jesus died so separation from God wouldn't be the ending, but as God's beloved children.

"He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for all our sins,
and the punishment that brought us peace was laid on Him,
He was stricken and afflicted, but God's mercy would reveal,
what His suffering would bring us, by His wounds we're healed...."

If you've been blindsided by sorrow and are struggling to make sense of what's up and down
while walking through the dark, I'm right there with you. I have no idea what's going on. 
And I really have absolutely no clue how God will use the recent sorrows in my life for good or glory.
But our Good Friday darkness....always gives way to Resurrection Sunday light. Why? 

Because:
"Jesus sat in the midst of joy sipping the coming sorrow, 
so we can sit in the midst of sorrow and sip the coming joy." 
- Timothy Keller - 

Coming joy. It's not a faint wisp of smoke hanging in the dark weeping night. 
It's the fury of the heat of a million suns that blaze their way into the morning sky. 
It's all creation singing for the awakening of all we're created to be, coming alive more than ever.
It's the power of the cross, TRIUMPHANT. It's the reigning Savior, the King of all Kings. 
It's the curtain torn in two, the rocks split open, the veil torn, the Holy of Holies opened to us. 
It's the stone rolled away, the empty tomb, the dead being raised, the praises and singing. 

It's everything sad becoming untrue. It's our brokenness sealing into a whole we've never dreamed of. 
It's every prodigal running into the arms of the Father. It's every orphan coming HOME.
It's gazing upon the Lover of our Souls who died for us He loved us so deeply. 
It's being radiant, and white, and pure. It's a never ending joy that will never fade into sorrow. 
It's the brilliant and deafening sound of a million trumpets. It's knowing He always loved us. 

It's the Risen Savior, who said "it is finished" and it was. For always. 

Until then, know that because Jesus died for the abandonment and pain that you feel....
you can have a forever family with God, and He will never ever ever ever let you go. 

As sure as Jesus walking out of the tomb on Resurrection Sunday morning: He loves us. 
The cross, the empty tomb seals it forever. Jesus paid it all. 
What wondrous love is this? How can it be?

"Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" - John 1:29

The darkness will not last. It will give way to a brilliant morning. He has promised and He cannot fail. 
He is redeeming what has been burned to nothing, He is working in the dark to bring beauty.
He is working in you, in all your pain. He is with you. He is victorious for you. He is RISEN. For you.

"Man of Sorrows, what a name! Bore our suffering, bore all of our pain. 
Man of Sorrows, broken sinners to reclaim, overcame the darkness, and walked out of the grave.
You overcame my darkness when You walked out of the grave." 

- JM -