Jesus the Cornerstone

Crowd of people walking toward large open bible

Illustration Credit: Gary Waters, Corbis Images

“We humans are notorious for taking something Scripture describes as a reality, giving a term to it and thinking we’ve replicated the reality. Paul talked about the church that gathered in various homes, but he never called it ‘house church’. Houses were just where they ended up in their life together. Jesus was the focus, not the location.”

-Jack Colsen, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore?

 

“19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:19-21 (NIV)

 

Strong’s Concordance

Cornerstone- akrogōniaios

akrogōniaios: placed at an extreme corner, the corner foundation stone

 


 

I try to go in quietly through the middle doors in the back. The few seconds in pulling the handle happen to be when the worship stops and the guitar echoes end. I’m late and all is still. The hinges squeak, their heads spin and my shoulders shrug a little because to say I’m sorry is asking too much.

 

I’ve been pushing myself toward Church lately. I want to keep going because I’m hoping, at some point, I’ll pass through this barrier and actually want to be here. Like wanting wine or black coffee, like an acquired taste.

 

There’s a row in the nosebleeds that’s completely empty, so I claim it. I need to have that escape route and breathing room. Spotlights are shone on the front and center and I know, within minutes, the room will be full light for the mandatory “meet and greet” moment. These are perhaps the most uncomfortable, tentative, interactions I’ll have all week. But I do it anyway because this is church and that’s how we get to know each other.

 

I am thinking about skin color. Out of the entire sanctuary I cannot spot a single person of color. Sunday, the Lord’s day, is still the most segregated day of the week. We have suburban white churches and urban black churches. Gay churches and non-affirming churches. Churches where women can preach and churches where that is ridiculous.

 

And suddenly, I start looking for the exits.

 

Then I shrug, simply because it was a 30 minute drive to get here. Thoughts continue to nuke and I am taking notes, not on the sermon- on everything I would change about this whole institution. Even though no one can see that I’m a pariah, I feel like they know. I feel like one of them is about to turn around and toss an ex gay brochure in my lap. I start seeing them in voting booths, I see them at dinner, I’m in their car listening to James Dobson radio, and they are so white and so suburban.

 

The sermon is lost on me and before I know it, it’s closing time with Communion and I’m not feeling up for it. Reasons for this mainly center around the fact that I spent the entirety of the service nit-picking every soul and sound effect in the room, and it’s not easy to shift from critique to confession. I’m not really feeling bad about it either. Partaking just seems to be in poor taste.

 

This night, once again, is a bust and I know its my fault because I chose to come here. They didn’t come to my house. They don’t owe me anything.

 

As folks file down the aisle to consume the elements, I lean back and listen to the lovely voices crooning. While I used to be a big critic of the mood altering music, I’ve become rather okay with it. It is enjoyable and even if it’s just for a few minutes, I feel more.

 

And there’s this song that comes on, the only one that has ever given me pause. Two seconds of that one verse and I am wholly undone. I am undone with face falling into fingers.


 

“We will overcome, by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.”


 

We all fly and drop and believe and doubt and sometimes feel like we are teetering on a faith that’s one gust away from free fall. We all stand here hungry, wanting to want, drawn in by uncertainty, dying for clarity. We come imperfect with our prejudices and our need to please. We arrive all the way tired.

But we’re all connected to this cornerstone. We’re all a part of this.

Yes, they are so white and so suburban. They share the same skin and probably the same politics. But I cannot see their history, nor can they mine, not until we gather here around the cornerstone. This where we break bread with one another because we belong to one another. We feed into each other our stories so we can see how easy love can start.

And like them, I am mustering up whatever courage and energy I have left in me to sit through one more Sunday. One more week of fighting unbelief. One more night of giving grace a try.

Like them, I am forcing myself to come here because something in me says go. Join in the collective groan.

 

in this moment I understand Christ as cornerstone.

 

Masonry foundations start with the cornerstone, the brick that the rest of the structure is built in reference to. It is the most important part, and obviously, a fitting description for Jesus. Everything we do is in relation to Him, how we live in light of his Death and Resurrection, how we slip away like blocks in Jenga.

 

We’re all small bits in a body that is constantly looking for the Love of Jesus. Incessant in our desperation for it.

 


 

Trying to see where we stand, who we are, what we want to be,

Where He is, who He is and what He wants us to be.


 

And all the while, we walk through a world that is not fixed, that is always moving, where we are always changing and its difficult to discern what it means to stay in relation to Him. To find a faith that feels right as we live in a world that feels wrong, a church that feels wrong (sometimes). To angle towards Him. To stay tethered to His message. It’s not easy.

 

Everything hangs on this. On Christ’s death and resurrection. On Him being our Cornerstone. Our entire lives cleaved to an event that happened 2,000 years ago. That is a lot for the heart to hang on to.

Yet at the same time, it is He who is holding this whole mess together. He is the cornerstone. He holds this whole dying world in His hands. He is our cradle. Our nest. And that is a lot for the heart to grasp… but it’s kind of irresistible.

 

Overcoming is our desire and we need His blood to do it, but that cleanse comes through our connection with one another. When we finally understand that not everyone (or anyone) fits the straight, white, suburban family stereotype. When we celebrate the creative body surrounding our common Father. When we reach deeper to retrieve the sharp stories and those moments where God didn’t feel near. The days when the Church felt a world away. We start setting things right.

 

Somewhere inside those conversations and those prayers and those songs is a collective correction of the structure. A shifting of the earth. New bravery in our bones. More love lingering on our lips. We are living in each others’ stories, meshing and loving and tripping and falling all the way to the Holy. We trust timidly in the living Cornerstone to keep us standing. Daring to maybe… let us all stand together.

 

RR

Because Brent Said So.

 

But also, because it’s brilliant.

For those not on twitter: Brent Bailey, blogger at Odd Man Out, and a good friend, asked myself and a couple of other fantastic bloggers to reflect on the positive aspects of coming out to our Christian friends. I wish I had more time, but I am really pressed this week, so the new story here is shortish.

 

New story

 

The other night I came out to one of my closest friends. We were on a drive in his brand new car just weaving our way through the city. After going on about all the features in his hot new ride, he asked me how I’ve been doing lately and I told him I’m gay. It slipped out, just like that.

 

Our brief joy ride led to the two of us sitting in a Granite City booth at 11 PM, talking it through, beginning to end. He had so many questions and many of them were quite gutsy for our first conversation. Before beginning, he’d preface with, “Okay, I’m not sure if this okay to ask…” and wait to see if I give him the go-ahead nod.

 

One was,

 

“Have you ever felt like you could have a deep conversation with any of us, like a heart to heart?

 

I shook my head no and was taken aback by the lump rising in my throat.

 

He smiled and nodded back and told me how he couldn’t imagine what that must be like, to feel so separated. And now, how good it must feel to be able to really sit with him and know that no matter what, he wasn’t going anywhere, he was always going to be my brother, closer now than ever. Let’s order another beer.

 

In no shortage of words, he expressed how this had a HUGE impact on our relationship because it took it to a whole new level. He was confided in and that made him feel good. He expressed how he has a cousin that’s gay and how angry he gets when he hears the crude things coming out of the culture war. How he’s ready to fight tooth-and-nail on my behalf because he loves me. We stayed in the booth for a couple more hours.

 

More than anything, what he gave back to me was the affirmation that coming out is a good thing. The very thing that many of us grew up thinking was the worst possible thing. Our Christian friends are much more loving than we give them credit for. Taking that step can create breakthroughs in friendships, opening spaces where we need our buds the most.

 

it truly was an incredible night.

 

RR

 

PS: I’ve shared this story about how my immigrant brother from another mother was impacted by my coming out, which I think is important because often times us sexual minorities feel that we are burdening others with our story. But sometimes we’re actually liberating them.

When God is Gone

Paintings_from_Inside_Cars_in_the_Rain_Gregory_Thielker1

 

It was the strong kind of wind that you feel when you’re closed up in your car driving fast down the freeway. The summer was fighting its fade into fall with one last blustery storm. I sped down 694 and felt like I didn’t need the wind to blow me away, I was already overcome.

Fingers clutched with knuckles white over the wheel, eyes seeped with tears, breath labored and curt.

I slowed up on my street, and I knew I couldn’t go home. Not in this state. So I pulled into the parking lot by the lake, and as the rain pelted hard on my car, I fell completely apart.

 

A few days before, I took one brave step out of the closet to my therapist. Every day, for a year, I carried with me a small crease-closed note with my secret scrawled inside, and, every day, I would hand it over then snatch it back. It never was the right time.

But then, one day, I made her promise to not give it back. My mind was made up, I said. She nodded and she understood and I reached out my arm with it pinched between my thumb and forefinger. She snatched it and I collapsed on the couch. Breath was labored and curt. I was overcome with the fact that I was still gay.

What I believed would happen went something like this: I tell her “I’m gay”, and suddenly, those words from thoughts sound so absurd out loud, and, abruptly, my attractions cease to exist and I am left there redeemed and victorious and straight and jumping up and down on the couch like its Christmas and I’m five.

I thought that’s what God wanted me to do. Just confess. And then he’d help.

Instead, it felt like the sheet had been pulled and I was lying naked on that couch under hot fluorescent lights. There was no freedom in that confession, no liberation, just divine disappointment. Wide-open exposure.

I stood up, dusted off my pants and as she pleaded for me to wait, I looked at her and said,

 

“I have to go.”

 

Those brick walls that had insulated me for so long had been broken, and I thought I would only feel the airy chill in that closed off office, but I felt it in every room, every house, my own car- all alone.

Even in that inky black rainy and windy night.

Inside the locked car, I was exposed.

And I wanted Him to cover me.

 

The dark midnight hour pressed in and the flat lake never looked so low. The distance between the surface and the black muddled sky was my soul relative to my “savior.” I was broken, a shattered heart, and he was nowhere near, even though he swore long ago he would be.

 

“If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” -Psalm 34:18 (MSG)

 

But what if he won’t?

What if I sat in my car, cracked and still crumbling, opening palms flat below the sky to nothing? What if there wasn’t some breezy presence bringing the air back to my lungs? What if I was hanging on the thinnest thread with the heaviest boots and God felt utterly uninterested?

***


This night haunted me for a long time. It seemed to be an affirmation of a God that doesn’t love people like me. A God so quiet, so unresponsive.


 

Yet, there was the cross and there was the scriptures saying He carved my name on His hands and I had to reckon with a God as mysterious as that.

 

Completely silent at my worst moment and annoyingly loud at my best.

 

Now, years removed, I believe that this is one of those nights that can only be understood in reverse- When God feels furthest away, he has never been closer.

I get how backwards that sounds.

 

But the truth is, God gave me the space I needed to speak out every wretched thought I had about Him and this whole cold world He created. To bang as hard as I could on His chest. To reach the peak of ultimate honesty. The place beyond the cutesy words and comforting clichés. Where everything is just raw and instinctual.

He wanted me to stop coming to Him so scared and polite and nice. He wanted me to cut out the bullshit and be completely honest. Completely truthful. Allow the most unholy words to make for the holiest of moments.

And it was that night that I started my slow, baby step walk out the closet. It was that night that I started to realize that God had put people in my life, all around me, that had ears to hear and arms to hold. That they expressed His love in a different, imperfect, but tangible way that I needed to have in my life.

Maybe you’ve felt this way too. Maybe you’ve only heard faint echoes of a God that lives a world away. But that doesn’t mean He isn’t as close as can be, sitting right there in the passenger’s seat, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the storm, letting you scream out every lie you ever believed about Him.

Just waiting, patiently, for you to realize that the God you speak of is not the God that’s there. You got the wrong idea about Him, and if it takes an exhaustion of your heart and spirit and mouth to find that, then his silence is the most loving thing he can do for you.

RR

Waffles and Shoveling

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*Illustration Credit: Pascal Campion

A couple of days ago Minnesota was hit with an unexpected snowstorm. I woke up to my mom, also an employee of the district, cheerfully calling into my room,

“No schoOol! Making waffles.”

I should’ve known better. I should’ve snuck out the basement door and driven until I saw the Golden Arches with my hot cakes already made. This was a trap. A bait and switch.

But in my booger eyed, half awake state, I crawled up the stairs and met her at the mixing bowl where she was cracking eggs. She must’ve seen my eyes gleam and mouth drip and knew she had me.

You get the waffles once you do the driveway.

Shhhhiiit.

I eyed the window behind her, the big flakes falling ever so fast.

“But, it’s stillll snowing-”

She was too preoccupied with the mixer.

“Mmm, yes, but it has to be done”

She could’ve just said, because I said so.

It would’ve been more honest.

My stomach growled and my face showed it. But… no driveway, no waffles. So. I got out my big boy boots and departed from the open garage into the gulf of wild white. Just a wide shovel and I against the world.

And it sucked.

I mean, really. Shoveling snow when it’s still snowing seems about as useful as bailing water out of sinking ship. Let nature take it course! Let the sun melt it or wait for some Samaritan that’s snowplow-ready and willing to remove it.

The snow was so marshy and thick that every scoop felt like a spoon full of rocks. And I really shouldn’t’ve worn jeans, the snow soaked right through, sending slow cold drips down my legs, absorbed in my socks, leaving me with really heavy boots. Boots that I would fall out of from minute to minute because they were way too big.

But after an hour, it was a success. The late arriving snowplow gets some of the credit, but still, I did it.

And the waffles were well worth it.

~~~

Yesterday, I felt both burdened and blank. For awhile now, maybe since I got back to the US, I’ve been trying to keep control of everything on my own. I’ve been trying to be more free to pursue my passions and live life by the seat of my pants. While I definitely let my freak flag fly and it was liberating, I didn’t see all the little anxious thoughts falling on in until they condensed and I broke beneath them.

I threw my hands high in the air. I drove to the place where I go when I don’t know where to go. It’s by this lake facing west, the sun sets behind the thin tall trees on the other side.

It dawned on me recently how whenever I lose touch with Jesus, I become more disconnected from myself. I am an enforcer and an encourager at work, I am funny, but awkward, with my friends, and I am the youngest boy with big dreams in my family. Normally, these things all sort of bridge and form this web of who I am. But lately, the threads have stretched and tensed. I am losing myself in my changing hats. I am losing myself in this season.

Staring out across the great expanse of ice, I waited for Him to come romantically, to float across the lake into the yawning acres of my heart. Having not prayed in awhile, I wasn’t sure how to go about it honestly and with right motives. But I couldn’t muster anything real. Everything I said felt like a dodge or not my real voice. I couldn’t just come. Even though it was unprepared, my words felt practiced, like years of prayer usually does.

All I wanted in this moment was to be free from my uncontrollable anxiety. For him to just take it and nail it to the cross.

Hearing nothing, I flipped open my Bible to where I had left off. Maybe I could find a word in the Word. It was Matthew’s narrative of the Jesus story in chapter 6. And without knowing what was to come, this is what I read.

 

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” Matthew 6:6 (MSG)

Grace like a shovel. Grace like a sunset.

It was startling since it spoke to exactly where I was. In my quiet place, trying to draw out my truest words and thoughts. Knowing that if I could just get this right, if I could just get His attention, all the anxiety piling up in my mind might be released, transferred, hushed.

 

I set the Book down and looked again the Lake. The sun was on its slow descent down behind the trees. The rays were being split, long stripes of shadow and shine stretching across the ice to my car. And it felt like a lunge. Like the arms of God reaching to pull me toward Him. Words won’t do here.

December_2012_Portland_Maine_DSC1661+By+Corey+Templeton+Standpipe+Park+Sunset+in+Trees

I knew that this moment was, just that, a moment.

 

This wouldn’t be my last trip to the lake. The anxiety would keep falling and if I let it, thoughts would pack together and bring me back broken again. But at the same time, I felt him washing me clean. I started to spill over with my aches and fears, as true as they felt. It was a struggle at first, but the weight was becoming lighter. I felt Him scooping out all those insecurities and what-ifs. I felt him wanting more of me. Wanting a relationship of give and take.

Maybe that’s what prayer is all about.

You come heavy, you leave whole. You come empty and you leave filled. You come broken, you leave better. You come and you go, you come and you go, you come and you go, and somewhere along the way, this God becomes the bridge that holds you completely together. Keeping you connected with yourself, keeping you clean of anxiety.

The quick fixes I was looking for were not going to be given. I will never be completely, anxiety and insecurity free. The same way I cannot stop the snow from falling.

But He can.

He can meet us and draw us out of the heavy and thick thoughts that bury us. And maybe, just in that moment, we’ll remember how much we need him.

RR

New Series: Jesus the Advocate

Jesus Christ Close-Up*Credit: Kaadaa, Corbis Images

 

Starting a new series. As many of you saw from my little outburst on this post, I am feeling far away from God, completely because I haven’t tried to come to him. Coming requires courage, that which I didn’t realize until recently. Perhaps the only reason I have clung to whatever thin thread I have to this faith is because of Jesus. The birth into poverty, love for the least, and death on a cross have compelled me to continue to search. So in that spirit, I have decided to embark on an ambitious journey to learn more about the different titles of Jesus. There are so many that I hadn’t heard of until recently and I am excited to see Him from so many different angles. More than anything, I want to do this series to keep me grounded, tethered to the Bible. Seeing what it will reveal to me, be it good or bad. Hope you enjoy!

~

“Jesus feels for thee; Jesus consoles thee; Jesus will help thee…. In Jesus the weak are strong, and the defenceless safe; they could not be more strong if they were giants, or more safe if they were in heaven. Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The conies cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a refuge, but Jesus has provided it, His Father has given it, His Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again tonight I enter it, and am safe from every foe.” – Charles Spurgeon

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1st John 2:1-2 NIV (Bold emphasis mine)

Strong’s Concordance

Advocate ~ paraklētos

– one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor

– “Consoler” corresponds to the name “Menahem,” given by the Hebrews to the Messiah.

~

Part of me couldn’t bear it. My folks had to withold my secret from their best friends in the whole wide world. Another part felt a nudge, divine you could say, although I wasn’t completely convinced it was, but anyhow, it was there. A lingering flicker of thought, small proof that the next step for me was to bring my next-door neighbors into our story.

 

Late one night, we invited them over to talk. Struggling to digest all this new information they, understandably, had a lot of very good questions. My folks and I had been at this for several months, and we may have spilled far too much for one conversation to hold. We may have overwhelmed them with theology and the changing Church and what books we were reading and where we were then to where we are now.

 

But in the middle of it, my mom said something that quickened my exhausted explaining heart. She reared her Mother Hen head and said,

 

“Look, truth is, none of us know what God’s intent is here, but no matter what, I am always going to be on the side of my son.”

 

Advocacy.

 

Despite the fact that whatever I decide to do with my life runs the risk of some sin or missing out on God’s plan, she would stubbornly stand in my corner. She would shoulder me up. She would do her best to be delighted in my joy and always be ready to clean up after my mistakes. Whatever ups and downs will come in whatever choice I choose for my life- she will be my advocate, simply because I’m her son.

 

On my side, even if I’m wrong.

 

~~~

 

This is what crossed my mind as I mulled over this title bestowed upon Jesus by John. Looking at the original Greek there are two key words that jump out at me “intercessor” and “consoler”. The idea that Jesus would carry me close to his chest so I wouldn’t have to carry it all alone, while also fighting against every assailant wishing to throw me to the wolves. He’s like a pillar and a preserver.

 

The more I read and reread this verse, the more I see Christ adoring us despite how screwed up we all are. Yes, we have of our log of sins, spoken and unspoken. Nothing can hide our laziness or jealousy or our need for more and more stuff. The best of us have hearts that give themselves to so many other people and places and things other than God. Often times, I don’t express much of an interest for His company.

 

But in the thick of it, he says, “yes, but I have taken care of all of that. I love you, you belong right here. Lay your head on my shoulder, be at peace, I am with you.”

 

He is with us if we enter into a same-sex relationship or journey into celibacy. He’s with us when we wander away for a few years, because he bets on our about-face into his arms. He is with us when the world is throwing daggers and the stack of bills are insurmountable and it takes everything in us just to get out of bed. He is ready to reach into all of our shit and coax us toward the first steps to renewal. He is with us even when we are not with him. Even when we’re wrong.

Calling us saints when we live in shame. Whistling our praise when we’re singing the blues. Telling us its okay when we loosen the screws on our too tight halos.

 

He has already paid our portion, with whips and nails and suffocation. He has already satisfied the must for justice. To this day, he pleads on behalf of you and I. It is said that he is still absorbing the wrath, kneeling before God like armor protecting us. Nails re-piercing, whips still lashing, until the final day comes. It is also said that he is simply kneeling there, begging for God to give us more time, to not squash us like little bugs quite yet.

 

I don’t know if I buy any of that (mind you, I am an amateur, not a theologian).

 

I have to believe that since God “so loved the world”, he sent his son to die on our behalf, that the mission was fulfilled in his death and resurrection, ultimately rendering us to a life lived under the free gift of grace. Maybe my earthly mind cannot comprehend this disagreement between God and Jesus. Maybe that’s not what’s happening.

 

But I do believe he is advocating for us in every day that we live in this world. Against all the evil spreading its long fingers into the hearts and minds of our assailants. I believe he wants the world, each one of us, to recognize Him in the Other. To see that we are good, because he is good. To love ourselves, because there are times when we beat ourselves down to the depths of “least of these”. Despite our meager minds and hearts, always changing from fire to ice, he throws us over his shoulder because he is Enough.

He is fighting for us. He is loving us. Neither is earned, but given anyway.

Jesus is our advocate.

RR

Ten Seconds (Writing on Andrew Marin’s blog today)

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When I first came out to family and friends, there was one blog that we read religiously, Andrew Marin’s. Him and his book and his foundation have been a Godsend for me and those in my corner- so, I was really really really honored when he asked if I would be a monthly contributor to his blog on Patheos. He is trying to create a space where we can tell our stories and our perspectives and create an environment for dialogue to flourish. I feel so blessed to be a part of this. Here is my debut post!

Ten Seconds

I should start at the beginning and stop short there. It’s important to look at those small squares throughout the tape of memory. Those short significant moments in their every detail. True healing, I have found, has to come through something of a slow visitation. A breaking apart of the past, picking up small shards of where things went terribly wrong. Facing them. Saying them. Saying them out loud.

I need to use a magnifying glass and see the short breaths where big things happened. In this case, I want to talk about ten seconds.

Read the rest at Love is an Orientation

 

Brennan and God in Love

Souvenirs-of-Solitude-9781600068676

I’ve been trying to rediscover, refresh, redo? my time with God. I say time because that seems to be the most telling indicator for where God and I are. Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, I don’t go straight to scripture in these seasons. I visit with the spiritually wise. Those that have had the biggest impact on my own journey.

 

I’ve talked about Brennan Manning a lot on this blog and it’s because there is no one else that has had as big of an impact on my faith as he has. This is one of my favorite passages from his book, Souvenirs of Solitude. It hits me so so hard right now as I am trying to reconnect with who God really is. As I am trying to shake off the old stoic fart that sits on a throne with someone fanning him and lightening bolt in his right hand ready to strike.

 

This passage helps.

(Bold/Size emphasis me)

 

And the Lord summons me a second time. In the chastening solitude of the Pennsylvania hills, he extends a second invitation: “I want you to accept My Father’s love.” I answered, “But I know that. It’s old hat. I’ve come up to this deserted place seeking new insight. I’m in a fit of fervor, red-hot, wide open. I’ll listen to anything You have to say. Go ahead, Lord, dazzle me. Lay a new word on me. I know the old one.”

And He answers, “That’s just what you don’t know-the old one. You have no idea how much I love you. The moment you think you understand is the moment that you do not understand. I am God, not man. You travel the world telling others about Me-that I am a loving God. Your words are glib. How readily they roll off your tongue. My words are written in the blood of My only Son. The next time you preach of My life with such obnoxious familiarity, I may come and blow your whole prayer meeting apart. When you come at Me with your pedantic professionalism, I will expose you as a rank amateur. When you try to persuade others that you understand what you are talking about , I will reduce you to silence and hurl you flat on your face! You claim that you know I love you. Then gird your loins like a man. Now I will question you, and you tell me the answers.

“Do you know that every time you tell Me you love me, I say thank you?

“When a fear-filled child comes to you in the darkness of a thunderstorm and asks with tear-streaked face, ‘Are you still here? Will you stay with me until it’s light? Are you disgusted with me because I’m little and afraid? Are you going to give me away?’ and you are grieved and saddened over the child’s lack of trust, do you realize that you do the same to me? Or don’t you believe that I am at least as sensitive a father as you?

“Do you understand the word of My Son: ‘I do nothing by myself. I do only what I see my Father doing’ (John 8:28)? Who do you think first wept over Jerusalem when they refused to receive My own Son?

“Do you claim to know what We shared when Jesus withdrew to a mountaintop and spent the night with Me alone? Do you know whence came the inspiration to wash the feet of the Twelve? Or is that below My dignity, distant  Oriental magistrate that I am? Do you understand that motivated by love alone your God became your slave in the Upper Room? Remember, ‘I do only what I see my Father doing.’

“Have you grappled with the core question of your faith which is not ‘Is Jesus God-like?’ but ‘Is God Jesus-like?’ Do you comprehend that all attitudes, values, qualities and characteristics of My Son are Mine; that he who sees Jesus sees Me, His Father?

“Were you grieved by the divine command to Abraham that he slay his only begotten son Isaac on Mount Moriah? Were you relieved when the angel intervened, Abraham’s hand was stayed, and the sacrifice was not carried out? Have you forgotten that on Good Friday no angel intervened, that sacrifice was carried out, and it was not the heart of Abraham that was broken?

“When you’re friend loses a child temporarily in death, do you go to the funeral home and grieve with him and try to comfort him? When was the last time you grieved with Me and tried to comfort Me on Good Friday? Do you know that My heart was broken on that dark day? That I am your Father, that I feel as much as you?

“Are you aware that I had to raise Jesus from the dead on Easter morning because My love is everlasting? That I could not bear the thought of eternity without the presence of My only begotten? Are you serenely confident that I will raise you too, My adopted son?

“But of course, you are aware of all these things. Was it not you who just told Me that it is all old hat, that you know that I love you?”

 

RR