Behind each scar is a story. Every inch of the journey has been recorded on the canvas of mortal flesh; Skinned knees, amputated appendages, and knuckles bleeding from the incessant knocking on the door of heaven, for mercy.
Hidden in the filter of your photoshopped existence is the Truth of bridges of torched by broken promises. The contract was conceived in distrust, but the covenant remains eternal. The smoke of Sinai still hovers over the commitment; the faithfulness of the I Am, when i am not.
Scars are tattoos with better stories. They are narratives written in blood, and the last chapter is still being written. Your story is unfinished. Do not let regret shame you into silence, because the hour is late and the time is now.
Own your story. It's the one thing they can't take away.
They can suffocate your dreams, revoke your license, and disqualify your ordination. They can pull the plug on your breathing machine, and spin the narrative into clean categories of black and white and us and them and right and wrong and pure and polluted. They lock you up in a prison of toxic shame, and write your epitaph with permanent markers. They can start the prayer chain and gatekeepers can sound the alarm of an enemy wolf among innocent sheep. The revisionists can deconstruct your His/Story and you can choose to allow them, [or]
You can let your scars become the evidence of a scandalous mercy that screams of a Creator who uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Don't hide your scars from your children. Reveal the ashes and reconstruct a better tomorrow. Lean into the dis-ease, and be vulnerable enough
to wake up, rise up, take up your bed and walk.
Student: "Father Makarios, do you still wrestle with the devil?"
Father Makarios: "No. I used to wrestle with the Devil all the time. But now I have grown old and tired, and the Devil has grown old and tired with me. So now I leave him alone and he leaves me alone."
Student: "Then your life is easy now?"
Father Makarios: "Oh no. Life is much harder now.
For now I wrestle with God."
Student: "You wrestle with God and hope to win!?"
Father Makarios: "No. I wrestle with God and hope to lose."
I am not alone in this struggle. This is a part of the narrative into which I have been cast, beside my brother Jacob. He too struggled with God in the midnight hour, and walked away with a permanent limp. Because the struggle is to learn and grow and be decimated into a blessing; our struggle is to allow ourselves to be pinned down by an avalanche of cosmic love.
Why am I so resistant to allowing God to love me? Why do I shower others with grace and forgiveness, and yet harbor resentment and rage toward myself? Perhaps my struggle with God is not predicated on the objective to win, rather my victory comes in surrender. Because when I am weak, I am strong enough to put down my fist and say yes and amen. My Hosanna was born in a furnace of doubt; my glorification comes as a collapse into the arms of the Victor.
But I could not.
Because the reality is that I live with an ocean of regret. It is like an albatross chained to my memory, haunting me in my sleep. It's like a reoccurring dream of bridges built and crossed and then burned to ashes by my indifference, neglect, and selfishness. I have sketched the blueprints of a hedonistic empire and chiseled at a foundation of meticulously broken promises.
I carry this weight in my heart, and it slows my pace. My heart beats faster than I can walk, and I'm slowly falling behind and the sun is setting and the hour is late and the course is unfinished and the faith has not been kept.
As I write this, the late winter rains have caused the river behind my house to overflow the banks. The Grand River is expected to continue to rise until water will invade my living room. Yesterday I lifted all of our valuable possessions, including photo albums full of memories. On the kitchen table there are pictures of a cocky teenager who was hellbent on self-destruction. I hate that kid! I want grab him by the throat and get his attention! I wish I could return to Muskegon and tell him to let go of the egocentric aggression, and the narcissistic self-absorption. If I could write an open letter to my younger self, I would emphasize a cautionary dis-trust of choices made with emotion.
There are two dominant streams in my life: Regret and Gratitude.
Regret is the monster hiding beneath the bed of shame. I regret the way I treated my teachers in high school. I regret the way I relentlessly teased Jeremy Leffring. I regret the way I disrespected the different girlfriends of my youth, and the way I pursued attention for vain glory. I regret the way I manipulated conversations to solicit false affirmation, and I regret trusting the promises of a thousand amens. I regret all of the lies that I told, in my efforts to maintain an empire of delusion.
I don't feel like God is angry with me. But I feel like He is disappointed. I don't expect lightning bolts of His wrath, but I have come to expect the icy chill of His silent treatment. The distance is tangible, and the indifference is palpable. I feel reinstated to His Table, but not necessarily to His Triumph.
But on the other side of this ocean of regret, is an oasis of gratitude. We are born with two lungs, and if I inhale from the lung of regret, then I exhale from the lung of gratitude. Because after all of the self-destruction and humiliation, I am still here. It is indeed a miracle!
Several years ago I was involved in a horrifying car crash that should have ended my life. I was traveling northbound on US 31 near Lake Michigan when I mistakenly took my eyes off the highway. The construction ahead had slowed the traffic to a standstill, and I had no time to stop! I tried to swerve from hitting the last car stopped ahead of me, but clipped the corner of his bumper. My sedan shot fifteen feet into the air, rotating endoverendoverendoverend several times, landing upside down in the opposite direction of travel (across the median)! I was not wearing a safety belt, and my entire vehicle was shattered into a thousand pieces. One witness heard the sound of the crash and saw my vehicle flying through the air, inducing immediate vomit all of the interior of her own vehicle. Such was the disturbance in the atmosphere.
I remember bracing at the time of the collision, curling into the fetal position and waiting for death. I closed my eyes and braced for the darkness. "This is how it ends", I thought. But with each roll and spin and flip, I remained conscious. When I had come to a final stop (upside down), I crawled out of the passenger window and walked away without a scratch. I was barefoot because somehow my shoes went flying with the rest of the car. I just kept shaking my head thinking, "I can't believe I'm alive. I can't. Believe. I'm alive."
I am grateful. I am thankful that despite the crash and burn and fire and smoke and vomit and wonder - there is a Table spread before me in the presence of my enemies. I am grateful. I am thankful that despite my unworthiness, there is the love of a woman, the faith of a mother, and the laughter of three daughters who seal me in this promise of redemption. I am grateful. I am thankful that I have friends like Mitch Schultz, and John Smith, Ken and Bonnie Jane Greene, Dustin Price and Sulkiro Song, AJ Sherrill and Cam Speer, voices of truth in a world of counterfeit. I am grateful. I am thankful for a place to belong, a promise to believe, and a purpose to become. I am grateful. I am thankful for the invitation of the Mercy King to a Table of broken bread and wine in abundance.
Remember that one time when it was New Year's Eve and you were in the middle of the circle listening to your favorite band with your favorite people and it was snowing and your stomach hurt from laughing so hard at the stolen thunder and you stood with your back against the wall and watched the frozen pipes burst through the ceiling and you said it was a sign from heaven?
Remember when they found her laying in the street - she was talking about the end of the world and the neighbors called the police and now the Social Workers are involved and we want someone to blame because the ultrasound was inconclusive. But I came from Grand Rapids to sit by your hospital bed to hold your hand and tell you that the DePoy's stick together, and everything will be ok and no this is not "God's Plan..." But maybe mental illness runs our bloodline because
I remember the time I stood on the roof of Holland Community Hospital and the voices encouraged me to jump but it was not the voice of my Abba, and I knew that this was a spiritual war, and I had embraced the cold porcelain toilet hurling up the truth about the rest of the story and the unwritten chapters of love lost and found and swinging in the dark at the inevitable resignation of the exodus lovelution.
But what if Brene Brown is right? What if this is all just a narrative that I've created to appear as the victim in a violent crime? What if the other side of the story was much more loving and less complicated and we could make sense of the pipes bursting from the record cold temperatures in the harbor theatre? And what if the doctor was actually good, and not trying to harm you? And what if being bipolar doesn't mean you lose your soul? And what if the story I've been telling myself is fiction?
Because your best days are still ahead of you. And love still wins. And children still laugh. And after New Year's Eve comes a New Beginning, and after the frozen pipes thaw and the demolition removes the ashes, reconstruction comes around Easter and the tomb is empty and Teresa believes in mercy and my value and worth are sealed until the day of redemption.
This boundary created space between the invited and the rejected.
On the other side of the fence was a swimming pool, filled with the inner circle of neighborhood children. Danny and Davey, with their golden hair and perfect tans... my heroes. From the bushes nearest the woods, I crept up slowly to the fence. I could hear, but I could not see. I could smell, but I could not taste. The delicious sound of belonging.
I remember sitting there, crying, for hours. They had promised to invite me to the party, but in the sudden rush to the diving board, and the euphoric crash below - somehow I had been forgotten. But that was Tuesday. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And the weekend, the same.
I was homeschooled.
So my best friend was a tree fort. And a dog named Binky. And a slingshot that would become the vehicle driving the premeditated murder of a thousand squirrels. And occasionally, the neighbors window - which would become the target of all of my rage. The anger was born from an inexplicable sadness that permeated my adolescence, and has burned through my heart until this day.
Find me here, inconsolable and unrecognizable. A blanket of suicidal thoughts and imaginary voices calling me to run run run from the truth, and hide hide hide from the runaway tongues. I called Jennifer, Janelle, and Jonathan to say, "I love you." But this felt like the end of a long journey and
I was coming home.
From the carpet beneath the table, I was physically lifted and carried by an angel with tattoos and blue jeans. He drove me home when I was -less, and became my feet when I could not walk. There were no words, only the sound of choppy breathing and hyperventilating and the crushing weight of anxiety as I began to devise a plan for my escape. It was early in the afternoon, and rain had set in while the mountains of Asheville had begun to shake off the frostbite of late winter.
Cam laid me on the couch in his living room, and I rolled over to continue sobbing. These groans were immodest and explicit, and my hands had begun to tingle from the lack of circulation. It seemed my heart had stopped beating, and I was not getting enough oxygen. I cried bitterly, as the rooster crowed thrice. I trembled violently, as my fists became numb. There were no words spoken, only the sound of uninterpretable tongues toward heaven, have mercy.
I don't know how long I slept there on that couch. It seemed like days, but when I stirred I was confused. Where was I? What happened? My eyes opened slowly and began to adjust to the falling daylight. It must have been dusk, and only the fading natural light remained to illuminate through the windows. I was paralyzed in the aftermath of all things unholy; the ashes no longer provided heat - only the evidence that a fire once burned.
And there, beside the couch, sat my friend. He was unmoved and focused, watching me quietly from his chair beside me. To this day, I don't know how long he had been sitting there praying for me. All I do know is that in his provision of a non-anxious presence, he was delivering a powerful sermon.
[Intercession is the intersection between failing faith and saving grace.]
I remember that moment, being stirred back to reality. The pain was real, and it wasn't just a bad dream. The wounds would leave a visible scar on my reputation, and my children would bear the brunt of explaining that their dad (however flawed) still walked on water. Still, no words spoken. He just looked at me with inexplicable grace. His lips slowly formed to a slight smile, as if to say, "I know. It hurts. I love you. And I 'like' you. I am not going anywhere. Go back to sleep."
We locked eyes for a moment, and I will never forget the blanket of comfort that covered me as I experienced agape love. I felt the love and acceptance of God, embodied in a friend - embracing my cold and broken hallelujah.
A few days later, I received a voicemail from the doctor's office requesting me to come in for a consultation. I didn't get the message until the office had closed, and I listened again to the message.
I've had two panic attacks in my life.
The first time I ever had a panic attack, I was delivered some crushing news by four men whom I had once considered to be my closest friends. I began to hyperventilate, and stumbled outside and fell into a snowbank, unable to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack, but I realize now that it was just an emotional bomb detonating in my brain.
The second time was in 2014, when I received an email that a "storm was coming..." and that my life was about to change forever, followed by a series of accusations against my character. Some of the grenades were full of smoke, false alarms. Others were time bombs with fire and shrapnel and unconfessed sin. My sin was about to be exposed, and my whole world was about to cave in.
The panic attacks were not false alarms. They were real threats resulting in concrete pain. All of the things I once held dear had become eviscerated in a slow unraveling of my deepest shame. I could blame no-one, and collapsed into a plea of guilt.
It has taken three years to rebuild the foundation of my life. The infrastructure of the first half of my life had been shattered, and like pieces of a puzzle coming together - grace has been recapitulating a story that is still being written.
I'm finding grace in unexpected places. In a vintage typewriter with errors in ink; whiteout. In a criminal record with sins exposed; expunged. In divorce and remarriage with baggage in blood; forgiveness. It's true, grace sneaks up on us from behind, and in the dark.
So when I heard the recent announcement that I might have cancer, I presented an attitude of fearless indifference. But that night I could not sleep. I tossed and turned for hours. Two to ten years?
"Dear God, "I thought. "I am not even close to being ready to prepare for my death." I began to think about all of the things that I have yet to accomplish. I want to walk my daughters down the aisle. I want to see their children grow strong and proud. I want to give them a last name that they can be proud of, not defined by google or Siri or MLive - but by the saturation of redemption! I ache for the reconciliation of relationships, and the restoration of my spiritual gifts. I miss the local church. I miss the Lakeshore Revolution of Love. I miss the eXodus. I miss singing in a circle with my best friends. I miss studying the Text in community. I miss preaching. I miss dreaming. I miss hope and wonder and resurrection and free hugs and love winning and river baptisms and colored chalk on the sidewalk and homeless hallelujahs.
To be reminded of your mortality is a sobering thing.
In his book, The Holy Longing, Ronald Rohlheiser writes about a restlessness at the epicenter of the human heart, aching for a revolution. This "fundamental dis-ease" strikes us like eternity in our hearts (Ec. 3:11), and our ability to channel this energy into a focused purpose is directly related to the health of our spirituality.
Rohlheiser says there are three phases of our spiritual journeys:
I pray that God will give me the opportunity to collect the pieces of my first phase, and with His grace create a mosaic of art and beauty. I pray that my life will be an offering, and my death will be a sweet-smelling aroma offered to my loved ones.
To those who knew me best, and loved me anyway.
The results of the biopsy came back negative. But the voltage to my heart has awoken me to a spiritual war that I am willing to engage, again. I am unfinished. The last chapter is still being written. My autopsy will reveal a heart that refused to quit, even after the resignation of my mind and body.
But I've also seen the sunrise from an abandoned truck stop in South Carolina. I have watched the tide roll in and out and in again from a thousand beaches and I know that a mild sunburn is good for the soul. I know that gratitude begins where entitlement ends. I have forgiven and sought forgiveness. I am still learning to forgive myself. I am one beggar telling another beggar where I've found bread.
It is in a circle of hope at Guiding Light Mission, where we gather around our stories and reach for resurrection and life. We pray for each other, and laugh and cry and surrender and repeat. Recycling repentance like a squeaky bicycle chain needing the oil of mercy.
I met "Steven" on a cold, Sunday night in February. He was one of three men who openly shared stories of accumulation and loss. He opened up about addiction and recovery and relapse and spiritual bankruptcy. He had a wealth of information from years of experience. Steven was faithful to attend our meetings, and brought his amplified bible with cross references. He showed signs of fruitfulness and hope.
We became good friends. I used to give Steve a ride to work after our meetings. He would be dressed up in his work uniform, carrying a sack lunch for his midnight shift. We exchanged encouraging texts throughout the week, and I found solidarity in his admitted propensity to wander...
Steven shared with me of his dream of opening a non-profit organization that could serve as a safe place for people to overcome their addictions. His own history with drugs had given him a heart for others who were hellbent on self-destruction. I gave him money and time and encouragement. He gave me friendship, and gratitude.
And then, without warning, Steven disappeared.
He stopped coming to meetings and did not return my phone calls. I asked the leaders of the mission if they had seen him, and they were equally concerned. Steven had refused a drug test, and packed his bags... He left the shelter and returned to the streets.
When I heard the news, I stayed awake all night tossing and turning. I prayed aggressively believing that intercession would be the intersection between failing faith and saving grace. The next few days I spent driving up and down Division Street through downtown Grand Rapids. I looked for Steven on every corner - in the eyes of strangers and cops and robbers and shopkeepers. I searched for him on social media, leaving messages for him at every turn.
Why do I care so much about Steven? There are a thousand other distractions that I could exhaust my energy with. Should I just leave the light on and hope he returns like a prodigal to the front porch? Or should I leave the 99 and go hunt down the 1 missing?
Here's why. Because I've been in Steven's shoes. I have run away to hide in my shame. I have covered my scars with the fig leaves of religion. I have quoted scripture in one sentence and cursed God in the next. I have violently defended the Name of my Savior, and then betrayed that name before the break of dawn.
And I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. But I was hunted down by goodness and mercy, followed by the Rescuer. I have known what it is like to be lost, and I have experienced the humbling grace of being found. I love much because I have been forgiven much.
I am still looking for Steven. And when I find him, I am going to give him a hug. And I'm not going to ask any questions, or for an explanation. I am not interested in a religious inquisition. I have no desire to extract from him the details of absence. I just want to find him, and then drag him to the Table, and break off a piece of bread and pass him a cup and ask him to do the same for me.
Post Script: I have always been attracted to the margins. The streets. Those whom have been made to feel unwelcome in the American Church.
rooted in a tangible blur of concrete confusion
[a one-room school house in montague, michigan]
a bridge restored, true love remains
Still alive. Still alive. Still alive. Still alive. Still alive. Still alive. Still alive.
Life on the other side of loss, is a frozen hallelujah. It is after the long, cold winter of sadness - when in the discovery of a heart that somehow keeps beating, you realize that life is unfinished.
And this unfinished journey is exhausting. You've lived through self-destruction, the terror of confession, the experience of rejection, and the hope of new beginnings. You lament the concrete basement, but find new mercies every morning. So you get up, again. And again.
Many of my friends have asked about my whereabouts and my what nows. I have a tendency to resurface at random times to gasp for air, only to sink again into the ocean of grace that has swallowed me whole. I have activated, deactivated and reactivated my social media accounts, depending on the latest flurry of emotion. I have joined the choir from the back room of anonymity, and found my voice singing off key - over a bridgeless chorus, and like a runaway train or a run-on sentence with no period
You can find me these days working full time with a small group of clients with Special Needs. I'm listening to laughter, brushing away tears, and teaching the Least of These how to tie shoes, brush teeth, and sweep the floor. In return, they are teaching me that joy is found in coloring books and animated movies and community breakfasts. We volunteer at local homeless shelters, feeding the hungry, and cleaning the toilets. I drive my disabled friends around in a van, and every day we find a new adventure...
I am learning that the ever-present absence of God is being rediscovered in a burning bush. The sacred in the common; Jesus at the Table of Mercy - eating macaroni and wiping the drool from paralyzed chins. Here, at the bottom of despair, is a victory march.
I have no sermons to preach, nor songs to sing. But sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see the upside down world outside my shattered windshield, and although I will forever walk with a spiritual limp - I'm still alive.
and my pen has lost its fire
and i'm not good at expressing comprehensive thoughts
but i've become an expert at staring at walls
and losing myself in the wonder of
and ashlyn's tears
i've been attempting to write about the rhythm of birth and live and death
and rebirth and life and death and rebirth and...
but it all comes out like a schizophrenic flood
of nonsensical psycho-pseudo babble
in fragmented sentences
gerunds and dang
i feel like a traveling salesman
distracted by a garage sale
with an armload of seconhands
baffled at their rejection of my personal credit card
spitting on my palms, extending my handshake
pinky swearing that i'm good for the payback
what i'm trying to say is
i miss the old me.
so is the flight of the alone to the Alone
take from me these november thoughts
of never enough and endless thirst
replace these tears with the solace of Your Presence
if it was all over tomorrow
i've been nothing without You
if these lungs inhaled the sudden conclusion
the rapture from this world to the next is a mystery
resolved in the paradox of justice and mercy
Click HERE to read my novel, "This Little Light" by Jay DePoy
This God is absent and present. He is hanging on an beautiful execution stake, mocking the mockers, destroying destruction, and killing death.
And it is no wonder that I am learning to rest in the paradox of holding on and letting go. "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."
I love you. I don't love you.
I believe you. I doubt you.
I surrender. I keep fighting.
I'm swimming. I'm sinking.
I'm living. I'm dying.
I'm squeezing with my hands open.
I am burying my mustard seed in the soil of insecurity. I'm singing of the Resurrection and the Life, while wearing sackcloth and ashes and grieving the death of my hope. I am starting a new chapter and it begins with I don't know.
Grace. Scandalous grace. Mysterious grace. Amazing grace. Bang my head against the wall grace. Knock me off my feet grace. Incomprehensible grace. Violent grace. Furious grace. Bloody grace. Terrible grace. Awful grace. Inexplicable grace. Stand up and sing grace. Sit down and cry grace. Gospel grace. New World Disorder grace. Upside down grace. Inside out grace. Crucified grace. Resurrected grace. The last chapter is still being written about grace. Redeeming grace. Whore-turned-virgin grace. Body broken, blood poured out grace. Welcome to the Table of grace. Pull up a chair grace. Light a candle grace. Burn down your religious castle grace. Beautiful ashes of grace.
- Proverbs 4:23
it's a fusion of orange and purple and black and blue.
it's the color of my heart as we speak
the breath hanging in the air
like a question unanswered.
down my face an ocean on the carpet where i am fully present fully somewhere else. i am tired of repression. suppression. depression. and the self-hatred.
i am numb to the words of affirmation that used to fuel me like a drug.
It’s the color of michigan in february, and the ever-present absence of recapitulation. it’s the color of an unbroken circle and repeated patterns of yes and no and never again and yes and no and never again. it’s the color of one day at a time and the recognition that tomorrow never comes.
I walked past the red bus, where I first saw the Light.
There was Pritchard Park, where I first saw the Love. I remember our first Friday night, the Drum Circle gathered the freak show, and the pulse of a desperate city vibrated for several blocks. I noticed a gathering of bullhorns and neon signs across the street, spreading the Good News of God's Hate. My three daughters were confused, obviously, because they have always heard about God's Love... So the next week we made some signs of our own, and handed out free water, and free hugs "in Jesus' Name".
Scully's, a downtown bar where on any given Monday evening you will find an eclectic gathering of atheists, agnostics, pagans, orthodox Christians, and post-labeled "other". These evenings were filled with passionate dialogue around an Open Table between racial, religious, and political ideologies. And I used to sit and listen to the stories, and share my own... about how God radically rescued me from me, and took me from the basement of the Muskegon County Jail. I shared with them about the shame and hate and grace and forgiveness. To this day, I have retained many friends from this season... And I still get midnight phone calls, asking me to talk them down off the ledge.
And in the distance is the ABCCM Veteran's Quarters, housing over two hundred homeless veterans. I will never forget Bill, who had lost everything. He once had a six-figure salary and a big home in Wilmington. But when he was laid off, he spiraled into a depression that ate him alive, literally. The last time I saw him, we were standing on the sidewalk talking about God and heaven and hell. He asked me about the eternal destiny of those who commit suicide. After some silence, he put his hand into the shape of a gun and said, "Soon." A few days later, he went down to the Swannanoa River with a pistol and never came back.
The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where Jamie and I used to linger over mocha and wine, telling jokes with no punch line, and playing footsies under the table. She used to order too much chocolate and then insist that I finish her dessert. And sometimes the live music was too loud for conversation, so we just looked at each other, and knew.
hope that buries my heart, here.
I have tasted the hate of apathy, ignored the cries of the innocent, and blurred the lines that separate neighbor from enemy. I have set fire to the Garden of Shalom, and run for the shelter of fig leaves and invisible bushes. I have touched, with blood-stained hands, the Holy Mountain.
This then is my confession: A guilty plea to a Righteous Judge. There is no defense offered, and no retention fee for a Counselor in this heavenly court. I have murdered the innocent, plundered the poor, pillaged the powerless, and built for myself a castle of sand.
How broken is this universe? Even the natural world is imploding with a virus expressed in the whole earth convulsing with shockwaves registering on the richter scale; emanating salty Tsunami tears flushing out toxic chemicals from the inside out. The whole earth is groaning for redemption...
Redemption. This is what every man, woman, and child is thirsting for. Redemption is the inexplicable itch that fuels the human engine toward achievement and success. The unholy Kingdoms of Accumulation have proven unsatisfactory; the itch remains. Success is an uncatchable wind, and our hands are blood-stained. Redemption is the ineffable hope for which there is no vocabulary. Words fail. Language limits. The inexplicable itch is spreading...
Which brings me to the Table.
I have come here starving for grace. Emaciated in deprivation, wrinkles around eyes swollen with tears. How many times have we been through this, God? Still, Your mercies are new every morning! I am crawling toward the First and the Last Supper, only to collapse at the feet of the One whom I have betrayed. I lay here motionless, save the dry heaving admissions of sincere sorrow. This repentance is borne in a furnace of regret. My tears fall like rain on the dusty feet of the Mercy King.
A tap on my shoulder... a nail-scarred hand is extended. I look up to receive His assistance to be transported to the empty seat [saved] for me, beside Him. He then takes the Bread and breaks it apart... dipping into the Cup of Wine. "Taste and see", He says. "I have loved you with an everlasting love."
Selah. The curse is reversed. The Story is re-written. The Garden is now a City, and leaves once used for hiding have now become the healing of the Nations! The slaughtered Lamb has now become the sanctifying Lion. The image reflected in the mirror is no longer mine, but His own.
I have looked into the eyes of love. A reflection of the Mercy King, who wipes away my tears of self-hatred and absorbs the bullets of my betrayal. There is an infinite width to this embrace. The cup of suffering now spills over with the Living Water.
I have tasted the hope of empathy, implored the octave of the heavenly choir. I sing of the power of life after death; the anthem of the children of the rising up again! I have run to the shelter of an old-rugged cross, and hidden my past in His future!
This then is my admission: I've been set free, released, forgiven, declared righteous by the One True King! My Kinsman Redeemer lives to make intercession for me in the trembling face of the Accuser. Death has lost, and love has won. The mallet of the Righteous Judge slams into the jugular vein of Prosecuting Attorney; and the local media has a new evangelion: "Good News!" The removal of sin has become the restoration of Shalom!
Which bring me back to the Table...
- Jay DePoy
Mariah is in 5th grade now. She is my twin spirit, and everything about her reminds me of growing up in that A-frame home, built by the hands of my dad. As she was talking to me, I couldn't help but absorb the animated facial expressions, the enthusiastic story-telling, and the way she wears her emotions on the outside, whatever they may be.
Her propensity to run and hide when she is being confronted, is possibly the greatest evidence of her bloodline to a broken man whom has always struggled to come out from behind the fig leaves.
The other day we found her dresser drawer full of candy bar wrappers, which she insisted had miraculously appeared. She went ballistic in denial, throwing a tantrum that could register on the richter scale. She looked in my face and lied to me. Repeatedly. And the more she lied and scrambled and denied and dressed in leaves of figs, the more I loved her.
Because I know this fear.
I just sat with her, quietly on the floor. Her arms were folded (yes, I know I should prepare myself for many more years of this, times three!) and she refused to look at me. Her punishment would be in place until she was willing to own up to her unbecoming. And I didn't get mad, and I wasn't even hurt by her... I was hurting f o r her.
Because I know this fear.
And once you've invested in a denial... once you've run for the border... once you've lit the match to the bridge, you feel you're trapped. The fear of abandonment and loss and unbalanced punishment and whatwouldtheythink? begins to torment you to the point of researching the nearest mental hospital.
My heart broke for her. I just kept repeating to her, a piece of counsel given to me (when I was once hiding in toxic shame): "You don't have to live like this."
I love this girl. And at times she can light up a room with charisma and charm. And other times she can burn the castle to the ground in her rage and self-hatred. I love her when she shines, and I love her when she gives me the proverbial finger. I love her when she is on the top of a pyramid full of cheerleaders in front of a huge crowd. And I love her when she locks the door and won't let me in.
I want her to live in freedom. I want her to live free from fear, free from the anxiety that she'll be dismissed. I want her to live in complete confidence that her Father loves her, and he'll always leave the Light on for her. And if she locks me out of her bedroom, I'll stand at the door and knock. And if she chooses to hide under an electric blanket of shame, I'll be wooing her out from her hiding.