Come now, let us set things right,
says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
you shall be eaten by the sword:
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken! – Isaiah
And I am giving counsel in this matter, for it is appropriate for you who began not only to act but to act willingly last year: complete it now, so that your eager willingness may be matched by your completion of it out of what you have. For if the eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have… — an apostle born irregularly (talking about more than just money)
Obedience is the burial of the will and the resurrection of humility. — John Climacus
Often, in the very stream of being rescued, we feel great and are lulled into a belief that everything is done. We think all our problems are over and our role is finished. Grace misconstrued can have that effect. In this state, at these times, we are tempted to stop and rest on our laurels, dream about a distant future, and construct our own expectations of how God should fulfill his promises. We must avoid this beautiful trap by willingly pressing forward to the real prize no matter what, treating the two imposters of success and failure as one in the same.
I wrote a poem in the dark night of March 23rd of 2005. I’ve shared it before, but never the story about it. Attenuated at the end of a very long tether, I was shocked and shone some of what was to come in the next months and years. I thought my beloved and myself were home free, but things were grim and brilliant all at once. I knew too much and not enough, as if knowing more would’ve helped. I was not resting well, and Jesus asked me if there was anything I wanted. So I asked something I always wanted to know, but never had the opportunity nor taken the face time, as those are the rare occasions I try just to listen.
I asked when he knew exactly, with some detail, how and when his earthly ministry would end. He said he knew as the Sun set on Tuesday of the first Holy Week. Even then, he didn’t know everything. There’s the fact that he is the Son, not the Father who knows all in advance, despite the fact that the Son gets the last say for the willing, humble, and obedient. There’s also the underlying stochastic processes that stand behind the dynamics of life in the flesh. Moreover, let’s not forget, the capricious nature of the crowd’s will that may turn on a mustard seed. His answer un-nerved me, because it was not the omniscient and magisterial revelatory answer that I expected. It was small like me, not great like him. It was completely relatable and comprehensible to me in that moment. I knew it was true because that is the Jesus I’ve known since my soul awoke, and the same one I’ll always know.
We talked about Micah, now called chapter 6 (initially verses 7-8 to be exact), about how he and his would suffer for others. We also discussed how he felt about and thought of the people from there through the subsequent oracle, into the last chapter, the end, then and now, grieving that many would still be devastated no matter what he or anyone else would do. That’s him… always thinking of others, and also, he said he thought about the story of Absalom’s reconciliation to David, Absalom’s rebellion, and David’s escape from Jerusalem. We also spoke of how that projected into things playing out in a then distant future, and we discussed how you can know something well without knowing exactly. That’s him too… dropping something insightful yet hard to square with the fresh understanding I just gained.
I went to sleep afterwards, and awoke sometime in the night and just scribbled this out in one go. I still have that piece of paper, but it’s just proof. Further proof, some of the things we discussed and I wrote that night never made any sense, not a lick, until recently. Now they’re dead-on and all the way live. I had a suspicion that might the case ultimately, so I always kept them near my heart and close at hand. But all that is just doggerel compared to knowing how he feels and what he thinks. That is the prize that brought me peace, then and now… only because he was willing.
His secrets cry aloud,
we have no need of tongues.
His heart keeps open house,
while our doors widely swing.
An epic in His eyes,
His Love wears no disguise.
Our truths are all foreknown,
His anguish we self-reveal.
We are naked to the bone,
His nakedness His only shield.
Overselves is all we wear,
we keep His Spirit spare.
His Love will endure,
the dead will speak the Truth.
In language strict and pure,
we stop our lying mouths.
Desire wraps our clearest cries,
Witnessed agony carries us to the skies.
The Lord Cries Out
Hear, then, what the Lord says:
Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice!
Hear, O mountains, the Lord’s case,
pay attention, O foundations of the earth!
For the Lord has a case against his people;
he enters into trial with Israel.
My people, what have I done to you?
how have I wearied you? Answer me!
I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
from the place of slavery I ransomed you;
And I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam.
My people, remember what Moab’s King Balak planned,
and how Balaam, the son of Beor, answered him.
Recall the passage from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the just deeds of the Lord.
With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow before God most high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the Lord requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Be willing to walk humble loving goodness and do justice tommorrow night at sundown)