There are times, many times, when answers are not enough.
When the most eloquently chosen words are still a mockery…
Because what are words when I am dying of leprosy, and you are not?
What are words when I am naked, and you are warmly clothed?
What are words when we could have been siblings, when our fates could have been reversed, but you turn away because you’d rather not see my open sores?
I’ll tell you exactly what words are then. Even, at times, the well meaning ones…
Shame. Shame and mockery…
Ok, whatever. So I won’t talk.
Oh, but what is silence!?
Many feel as though they don’t have the words anyway.
I’m here to go on record saying that that is no limitation.
You can still “bring,” you can still “cover…”
You can still open your arms and wrap them around the neck of a dying, reeking, sick child the Highest, and hold them to your heart, unguarded.
You can look steady and strong into the eyes of the naked and afraid, and prove to them that love can see past their lack.
Oh, and you might get the stench of death all over you.
But you might also release a soul from the grip of shame.
Dirty work? You might call it that. I don’t.
You know Jesus touched the leprous skin to make it whole.
Oh, love with your hands, your arms, your eyes…
And if your hands get covered in grime, no matter.
Have you ever, have you ever watched darkened eyes light up?
“…and to let the oppressed to free…“
“There is nothing in the world to fear, but fear itself.“
–words to a trusted friend those.
Fear substantiates the false claims of every captor.
Because when I fail, this jail I find myself in is horrible…
But even more horrible is the fear.
Fear keeps thousands in prison, when the door is wide open.
Because worse than jail itself is fearing “how God will treat me” when I get out…
But to say that God is anything like fear describes is as wrong as calling the devil a savior.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The truth is, God loves.
But the fearing can scarcely be blamed for disbelieving that at times…
We’ve taught them to.
Yes. You and me.
We teach the weak to fear.
By our actions. When we’re supposed to be representing Jesus Himself…
And that keeps them in prison even when the doors are open.
“…and to let the oppressed to free…”
Not just by getting the door open.
By helping them believe they’ll always find open arms on the other side of the threshold.
“…to undo the heavy burdens…”
I love that word.
I love that word.
Schoolmaster holds up a bony finger and rants of paradises lost. Of opportunities wasted. Of moments, talents, thrown to the wind. Or worse.
Of the train of mistakes so long it takes an army of engines to pull them.
And that army of engines is me.
(And so, we get nowhere.)
Of the crushing weight of another failure.
Another moment I regret the second it is gone.
Of the shame that no one can understand because they know nothing of its source…
Schoolmaster’s voice shrieks this madness,
this madness that is real,
and I cover. cower. cry.
And then in the midst of this shower of burning brimstone a hand is raised.
And teacher’s tirade ceases on a goldfish-gulp of air, for sheer shock that someone might want to speak…
And the voice is quiet, but it is as solid as a rock.
“Is there no way to undo?”
I love that word too…
And it does undo.
The Hebrew word means more than just to untie one’s shoelaces.
It means to utterly confound, baffle, unravel…
I know, in the present-progressive.
Because I pace too, lion-like. Fists doubled up. Star-studded blackness outside french doors to bookshelf, and back.
And I dry my eyes, drop exhausted. Only to cry some more.
And I whisper–
“He restoreth my soul… He restoreth my soul…”
I have heard it said that “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”*
I believe it.
Yes, there is a way to undo.
Oh, but schoolmaster shrieks again that the scars will always remain.
Yes. And even scars are trophies of His mercy–
A scar is infinitely better than an eternally open wound.
Thank you Jesus.
And so the soldier gets up from his face forgiven. Again.
But only as he remembers what he himself has learned on his face will he be qualified to help undo burdens himself.
This is why we must never forget…
Be thou merciful.
“…to loose the bands of wickedness…”
If hacking chains is exhilarating work, it is also gut-wrenching. Tear jerking.
It is neither for the faint-hearted, nor for the half-committed…
But it is brilliantly, brilliantly rewarding.
Little wonder then that many an eager recruit has taken to the field with clumsy grip and misfit armor to seek fame in such brave exploits. Only, without first counting (or even knowing) the cost.
These first six words betray one of the best-kept secrets of the dark side.
License is bondage.
Lust is an iron chain.
And many, many beautiful people are wearing such fetters.
But these, my friends,
These are the first chains to go.
Only, they will never fall helpless before the faith (or the fervent fuming) of the faint-hearted,
or the half-committed.
From these same six words rings out to every soldier sharpening his sword for such a battle, this thundered imperative- a charge commanding every anguished drop of a soldier’s undying commitment:
Be. thou. pure.
Be thou pure.
Because only purity is stronger than vice.
I know what it is to be hungry.