john 15:5

the Christian life can feel like quite a crawl at times.

there is a lot of pain in this world, and when friends have expressed concern over how we blinker and stop ourselves up to get through the day, i have told them that it is a necessary numbing, the sort that must be had for life to continue. just plug yourself up, sit tight, and crawl through life a day at a time. that much is true.

but it is also often an excuse. that much is true too. how much can i give (reasonably speaking, of course)? yes Jesus.. yes i get it, love others, bless enemies, help hungry.. but i have my limits. can’t You just set me a nice number that i can meet and maybe exceed so i can feel pleased with myself and not guilty or tired or drained??

and that right there is the question that Jesus was asked. “who is my neighbor?”, because if Jesus had named a person or a set of persons then it would be easier to ‘love our neighbors’ and just be done with it all.

but Jesus’s commands aren’t a checklist, because you can’t just bless your enemies. it’s hard enough to forgive them. hard enough to just be patient and kind with your friends even sometimes. they’re not a to-do list. instead, they are signs of a changed heart. they are perfect descriptors of what new life with Christ looks like.

sometimes i forget this. sometimes i stop myself up so that i can feel at ease with myself, so i can justify limited giving and conditional love. and on days like today, it just didn’t work, i just wound myself into tighter and more tangled circles of DIY self-help self-fixing, trying to troubleshoot my life while staying in control, to be a good Christian a good example a good son friend boyfriend confidante mediator helper brother, trying desperately to look away from the root of it all while blasting Relient K (L O L), as if i could summon God to fix the problem without first acknowledging it.

then i went for Bible study, and we sang three songs, and on the third song we sang this:

“when i survey the wondrous cross

on which the Prince of glory died

my richest gain i count but loss

and pour contempt on all my pride”

and three other verses, but right then all the plugging that i had done just came undone, and the article that my brother had sent me + the days of just journalling dashes of half-baked text + the cross on which my King died, all that just unstoppered me and i sat in that room full of people and couldn’t stop ugly crying (the kind with mucus and general runny-ness of face), i tried to sing but my voice just cracked and broke so i gave up when i realised i couldn’t even mouth the words how do i explain this? how do i look you in the eye and say simply that I have a Maker, He knows my name, He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when i call. how do i delve deep into the mystery and majesty of the gospel, of our desperate need that we dare not confront or admit, that we pacify with thrills and trinkets that distract us like how the crow is led astray by shiny baubles, when all this time the deep need grows deeper and heavier

not I, but Christ. everyday, in every way. let me patiently plant and water as You call me Lord – You make these seeds grow. You bring life.

how beautiful! the feet that carry this gospel of peace 

to the fields of injustice and the valleys of need 

to be a voice of hope and healing 

to answer the cries of the hungry and helpless with the mercy of Christ

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