The Call of Death

Do you see the horizon up there? We must be near the top. Suddenly I have the sinking feeling that I am about to approach a beloved's deathbed. I know that he is in agony, and I am afraid of what I will see. I have no choice but to enter because I love him, and I want to be near him in his suffering. I want to hold his hand and read psalms to him. I brace myself as I walk closer and closer to the room where torture does its work.

It is said that anticipation is more powerful than the fulfillment of the thing, whether it be a joy or a suffering. Perhaps I should stay in this moment, feel the cool breeze on my face, and not anticipate the coming crucifixion. After all, I am not there yet; I only see a glimpse of it through the heavily wooded horizon. Friday will come whether or not I suffer this anticipation. I could look down at the earth and pretend that I don't have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

I am beginning to feel weak and a little dizzy. This is familiar; it is my body telling me that the end is near.

Death of the body is widely considered the zenith of disaster. What could be worse than being torn away from this beautiful earth and loved ones? A slow and very painful death, or murder, are horrid ways to die. Escalating tortuous pain and the public humiliation of crucifixion are unimaginably awful.

To watch someone we love dearly, our son, our brother, or our best friend, being crucified, draws us into his suffering and humiliation. What can be worse; to lose him or to be him? We don't know.

Jesus Christ was the only person in the world who was born to die. You and I are born to experience life with all of it joys and sorrow, choices and lessons. It was to die that Jesus left the power and glory of divinity. He left the calm to enter our chaos. Dying was the only thing God could not do without our human body.

Adam and Eve were not killed. They committed a slow suicide. They chose to mistrust God. He warned them. They didn't believe the warning. Mistrust, thinking that eating of the knowledge of good and evil would make them happier actually separated them from the source of life, their God and guide. Death of the body was the physical effect of their distrust which separated them from the Creator of Life, our God.

Jesus forced the crucifixion on Himself in order to go to the place where mistrusting humanity naturally went when their mortal bodies suffered the final consequence of mistrusting God. Like Moses forcing Pharaoh to release God's people from the chains of Egypt, Jesus had to force Hades to release humankind from the chains of sin and death. No human soul dies. We were made in the immortal image and likeness of the source of life. Only the human body dies. Jesus knew that. The captive souls in Hades needed to be reunited with God. They had known good and evil long enough.

Jesus didn't become human to be able to eat fish and honey, or to make friends and enemies with magic tricks and breaking rules. He became human to unlock the gates of Hades and free the prisoners, and to free all of us on top of the earth from the deadly effect of mistrusting God.

The yoke of death, which is separation from God and from our loved ones will soon be replaced with a lifeline. Ironically, the lifeline is the death of Christ on the cross. Hold on tight.

A Contrite Heart

The day that Judas Iscariot betrayed his leader for thirty pieces of silver has lived in infamy. Chrysostom said that Judas had no idea of what they would do to Jesus. When he found out, it was more than Judas could bear. Suicide is not the right form of contrition. It shows the same short sightedness of the first bad decision.

David, a man after God’s own heart, murdered a man so he could take his wife. When he realized the severity of his deed, David fell on his face and wept. Then he wrote, “Have mercy on me o God according to thy great Mercy, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my iniquity.” David knew that “a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise.”

Two men in ignorance flung themselves from the face of God, one returned, the other died.

On my way to the cross, these thoughts whirl around in my mind. How often I must have disappointed, even hurt God. Ignorance is not bliss, it can be fatal. It is so easy to think all is well and right when beneath this crusty layer of ignorance could be rot and infestation.

David was grateful, to be told of his failure, Judas couldn’t bear it to see it. Lord, send your angels to awaken me to any thought, word, or deed that would separate me from your life giving image and likeness. Show me the way through the valley of tears and repentance to the tiny Mark, so hard to find, so hard to stay on.

I think that God must have an army of angels in heaven who are assigned to cry day and night over the evils that ignorance pours upon mother earth.

With every word that I read and every word that I write, the same simple message shines through. Learn the commandments, love them, eat them and drink them until they become woven into the fabric of our being. To think like God is to stay alive. When I fall, get up again, when I wander, return with contrition, ask for mercy and try once more. Even if I fall and rise a trillion times, hopefully the moment of my last breath and heartbeat will find me nearer to Life than ever. 

The United State of Christ

Yesterday I landed on a branch. After flying through the air listening for God, and imagining how I was in Him and He in me all at the same time I took this flesh and these bones to a place where I didn’t have to use any imagination at all, to know what it feels like to be in Christ and He in me.  Some people call it the gathering place, the Greeks do that.

In my book, The Immortal Life, I call it a spaceship embassy come to earth where aspiring immortals can gather to be energized. We English speakers know this place as the Church, or rather as church. In there I wondered how I could have said that I didn’t know what it feels like to be in Christ and have Him alive in me.

The Church offers everything these bodies and souls of ours need to be fully aware of life in Christ. A difference, a big sad difference between human life and divine life is that God is unaffected by the power of time to alter and to distract, and for us time is a thief of awareness, of love, of revelations. Time steals everything it can get its sticky hands-of-the-clock on except whatever we can squirrel away in our flimsy bags of memory. God is pure and solid and unchanging and humans are like spinning tops, veins of gold in dirt, or maybe just like plaid. God is the real solid chocolate bunny and we are the hollow ones. Our stronger than steel willed God never ever changes! How did Christ maintain Godliness in this dress of flesh and with the strange, unholy element of time? I really want to know!

Back to the branch.

Inside my timeless church this human shell is scrubbed and hugged and hugs back. It is injected with divinity, surrounded by purity, bathed in glorious Words. We’re there, physically in Christ and we can feel it as much as we want, with aromas, songs, and hugs from fellow aspirers.  In the gathering place we are infused with the sensation of unity with God when we surrender to the power of the place and leave time and the world outside. The more often we can be in the embassy of Kingdom Come, the more we can imprint our minds and souls with awareness of the united state of Christ. That’s another reason I love and need Lent. During the rest of the year, a grand canyon of sticky time lies between Sunday and Sunday that I keep falling into!

Ah Holy Week! Can I bring my pillow and blanket? I promise to be quiet!

I Spy

 

Many many years ago I heard a man on the radio tell about the I Spy game that he played with his family. At the dinner table each person took his or her turn to report how (s)he spied God that day: speaking in his heart or protecting him or guiding him or her. I just loved that and I wished I was in that family so I could have my turn to be the blabbermouth spy.

I know that faith is like radioactivity so that even though you can’t feel or smell it, it is very powerful, and I know that Jesus said to Thomas that particularly blessed are those who didn’t meet Jesus in person or feel the nail wounds in His hands. But I also know that Jesus and His Father did not have such a ‘senseless’ relationship but instead they actually heard each other and that the Father’s guidance was crystal clear and loud. I also know that Jesus said that He had to go away so the Holy Spirit would be able to live inside each of us to comfort, guide, and strengthen us aspiring immortals.

I think it is important to be aware of the miracle of having the Holy Spirit co-living within, as aware as I am of the activity of my brain and stomach. I wonder what I would do different if I was more aware of God in me and me in Him. I don’t like being ignored, especially if I am doing something really nice for someone and I’ll bet the Holy Spirit in me doesn’t either.

When I am in Christ (and He is in me) during Holy Week, I want to stay awake when He is taken prisoner, I want to feel the beating, the humiliation, the exhaustion. I want Him to know that I am not a fair-weather friend who only loves Him for what He can do for me.  I want to be in Him when He needs me the most.

Jesus had never felt forsaken by God before, but I have. So maybe I can help strengthen Him while He is hanging by His wrists. That’s why it is so important to me to spend this precious Lenten time away from the world scrubbing the scales from my eyes and heart so I can be awake, aware, and hurting, with his pierced hand in mine. Maybe Lent is nothing more than getting ready for Holy Week.

“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:20-21. It is a red letter day when God manifests Himself to you personally. When we speak to God, we expect that He actually hears us. Likewise He expects us to be able to actually hear Him. Maybe if I raise the bar higher, someday I’ll be able to jump into His loving arms.