Ever have one of those moments where you sort of reach the end of yourself?
I’m not talking about helplessness and pain caused by a single life-changing event. I’m thinking more about the kind that sneaks up on you as a result of just living life.
The kind that slowly builds over a week. Or a month. Or over the course of years.
The kind that’s magnified by an uncaring co-worker. And by noticing that you put on a few pounds over the holidays. And by the sore throat that’s hung on for weeks. And, finally, by the boys that get into a shoving and shouting match on their way to bed.
The kind that sends everyone to their rooms in a really grumpy mood.
The kind that hits like a ton of bricks around 11:00 pm when you’re vegging in front of the TV and watching the fire in the wall mounted fireplace die down.
The kind that leaves you feeling like a general failure.
The kind that finds you (once again) desperately praying a wordless prayer because you don’t have the energy to articulate what’s going on.
I can’t think of a single thing to say in prayer. I close my eyes and I exhale deeply.
And I’m thankful for the artists who have put my thoughts and pains to music through the years.
They have the words when I don’t.
If I were to paint a picture of one of my typical journey from this place, there would be a well-worn foot path through the following songs and lyrics. Especially when I don’t have any words of my own, it would start somewhere like this.
I know the Lord is nigh,
And would but cannot pray,
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away.
And frights my soul away.
And I venture a second step down the path…
You’ve been tempted and shaken tested and failed
You’ve been so far from Jesus and too close to hell
Your vision’s been clouded by this world’s delight
Exactly! It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in that. it’s also nice to know that the journey doesn’t need to end here.
Maybe, now a third step as I begin to remember that my acceptance isn’t based on what I’ve done or even what I’m capable of maybe becoming one day but solely on what God has done.
I will love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
And I’m reminded that this love is undeserved and it’s not based on anything I can or ever will do.
Rock of ages, broken scorned for me.
Who am I that you would die to make me free?
To give me glory, (you) took the death and pain.
Rock of Ages, my Offering
And stumbling a little further down the road, I realize that my offering is my poverty. My death. My pain. I have nothing of value to offer so I offer my nothing.
Christ became more human through his own suffering. I become more like him through mine.
As this sinks in, I can see into the distance further and see how I’ve attempted (again) to prove my own worth with my own actions. I’ve fallen into that trap that tries to add my own accomplishments up there next to the gospel.
When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
When we in our weakness believed we were strong
He became helpless to show we were wrong
And I can see further behind, now, too… My accomplishments are thousands of years past obsolete. Those were taken care of once and for all a long time ago.
“It is finished, it is finished,” hear the dying savior cry
And the beauty of the gospel pours out before me. And through it all, I might even see a glimpse of the corner of His robe through my fog of pain and fear and pride.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
But the suffering wasn’t all. He trampled over the pain and death. And he did it solely for the Father’s glory.
Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but Heaven’s will
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave
Oh church, come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!
And I realize that I have freedom to try and obey. Freedom to be a better husband, father, friend, co-worker. Not in order to earn favor or acceptance. But freedom to go out and obey and please because I already have that acceptance. I have it and need it all day every day.
Lord, I need you, oh, I need
Every hour I need you
And finally, what started out in a haze of frustration, anger and even tears has turned to peace.
All those who sow weeping
Will go out with songs of joy
Sometimes the most epic journeys happen without moving from my spot on the couch
And on that other well-worn path. The one that leads me to my own bed, I’m now able to take the scenic route and maybe even stop to kiss all the little foreheads on my way. Kisses with just a hint of tears.
The kind that comes from the deepest part of my soul.