I know I’ve been gone for a crazy long time.
Well, compared to how often I normally post.
Anyway, this post was meant to go up last Thursday after I got back from Winterjam. Well, it’s Tuesday. Although part of the reason I haven’t written this yet is because I’ve actually started learning what it’s like to be a productive college student. Oh snap!
Oh, and there was the part of the weekend that I didn’t have wireless Internet. But I vote that that had nothing to do with why I didn’t write this. (I can just hear y’all: “Yeah. Okay, Annie. I bet it’s about ninety-five percent of why you didn’t write yet.”)
Anyway. Here go the ramblings of a revelation I had Thursday.
First off, I love Winterjam. LOVE Winterjam. I went for the first time last year and thought it was amazing. Didn’t quite like the fifteen-minute message Tony Nolan delivered, only because it interrupted the music, but loved it.
Well, I think there were some definite issues with where my heart was last year. Huge ones. I was still trying to figure out the very, very basics of faith then. I was still angry and apathetic. So of course, the last thing I wanted to listen to was a message–from anybody.
Well, I loved it this year.
And it got me thinking.
I can’t remember exactly what he said to prompt this, but as he spoke, these words came to my head: I gave Him a death sentence. And He gave me eternal life.
Can you just say that aloud for a moment? Yes, I do mean say it aloud.
“I gave Jesus a death sentence.
“And He gave me life.”
How do we repay that?
I don’t think we understand the magnitude of that.
I don’t think we can.
I doubt there lies, within the human ability to comprehend anything, the capacity to understand what exactly we’ve done. What you’ve done. What I’ve done.
I fashioned a whip with bits of bone to bruise skin and bits of glass to rip open that same skin.
I not only fashioned this whip, but I used it to beat a man. He should have died there as I whipped him. He did go into shock–no wonder, after I’d beaten Him to near-death and back again.
After I whipped Him, I made Him carry the instrument of His death up a hill. I didn’t help Him when He faltered.
And then I forced Him to lie down on the cross so I could affix Him to it. The vast majority of people who were crucified were tied to their crosses. But I didn’t tie this man to His cross.
I nailed Him to it, with long, wide spikes. One in each hand and an even larger one for both His feet.
And then I raised it up and set it in the ground.
I watched Him try to raise Himself up to catch a breath, the nails tearing through His feet as He did so. I watched Him cry out for water, and offered Him vinegar instead. I gambled for his robe and mocked Him as King of the Jews. I told Him if He was the Son of God, He ought to be able to save Himself. I watched Him die slowly by asphyxiation. And after that, I shoved a sword in His side to make sure this man, innocent of all and any wrongdoing, was actually dead.
Oh, and by the way, I’d say I’m a pretty good person.
Can we just please try to reconcile those two ideas for a moment? You and I both would say I’m a good person. Hey, maybe even better than the next. I don’t drink or smoke or have sex, I’m pro-life, and I’m pretty nice. I’m loyal to my friends and have a comparatively good relationship with my parents. But the fact is that by every shortcoming I do have, I murdered a man in cold blood. And not only did I do that, but every day I choose to walk without Him, I spit in His face and might as well murder Him all over again.
Those two ideas, friends, are impossible to reconcile.
We are sinners. Our human system of judgment allows for “good people” to be put on a different level than “bad people.” But we’re all still sinners. We all nailed the only sinless man to a cross. Paul writes in Galatians 3:13, “Christ [became] a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” We cursed Him by nailing Him to that cross.
Hold up. There’s a “but”? Annie, you just told me you killed a man and that I did, too. I’m not really sure how I feel about this whole thing. You honestly have a “but” for that?!
Um, well, no. Jesus does. And yeah, I mean the same Jesus we nailed to a tree.
Remember when I wrote about grace a couple posts ago? Well, here it is again. It just punched you and me in the face, by reminding us we killed an innocent man. But it’s about to offer us some ice for that punch. Are you ready?
There’s a gift.
Annie, hold. up. I just killed a man, remember? And He has a present for me?! Are you crazy?
Yes, I am, but not about this. Well, maybe I am crazy, crazy for the Author of a crazy love. But hold your horses, please. I’m getting to that.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
Our sins nailed Jesus to the cross that took His life, but after a three-day tussle with Satan and death in hell, God raised Him back to life again, victorious over death. As God raised Jesus to triumph over death over two thousand years ago, Jesus now offers us that life. It is a gift, freely offered to any who will accept.
Yes, you killed a man. I killed a man. But promptly after being resurrected from that death, He announced the offer to have that same resurrection.
You and I are dead to sin, but we can be resurrected from it and have everlasting life. Something we could never have hoped for on our own merit.
Adam’s sin was powerful: it damned the whole of humanity. But Paul introduces to us the power of God’s grace: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15)
This grace is made possible by love. I can’t comprehend it. I’ll never be able to. I handed Jesus a death sentence, and then, because He loved me, He offered me life.
Something I took from Him.
How can I refuse Him?
How can you refuse Him?
I professed an acceptance of God’s gift of life at the innocent age of five. Fourteen years later, I am more committed than I’ve ever been to live like it. I just started Leslie Ludy’s book Set-Apart Femininity this afternoon, and I’m praying for God to use it to show me how to live the life I could never have dreamed of. I took His life from Him, but He offers it back to me, and I cannot imagine giving Him anything less than what I took from Him. I pray you will make the same decision.
I understand some of you will have questions and doubts. Don’t feel bad about those. I still have them sometimes, even though I have chosen to follow Jesus. I’m crazy enough about this crazy love of God’s that I want to do anything I can to share it with you. So, please, email me. My email is anniesmusings [at] gmail [dot] com. I will respond to you as soon as I can. Feel free to comment as well, but I completely understand the need for privacy, as faith is so personal. And if you make a decision to accept His gift of life, or just want prayer, or just need encouragement, or anything, please email me. I want to encourage you, challenge you, cry with you, praise with you.
God loves you. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have allowed His only Son to become a curse for us. He would have immediately condemned us all to hell instead of offering us life provided by His redeeming grace. He offers you this crazy love. Yes, He asks much of you. But He is offering you much of Him.
My walk has never been easy. But I will never trade it. He is that good, that faithful, that loving, that kind. His grace is that powerful.
Please don’t walk away from that.
Please don’t walk away from Him.