WHOSE Blood Bought Me?

 

Four years ago I first posted this, and on this Palm Sunday I feel the need to repost what I wrote then. This first came to me in the teachers’ workroom at school, then exploded in me again the following Sunday, when the enormity of what God did for us in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus rose like a  fountain of passionate love in my heart. It’s still true, and though my heart fell to fear of man and grief of loss a month after I first embraced this enormous truth, the GOD of grace, mercy, compassion, and love has walked with me steadfastly even as I slipped along the journey that led me here and, in some ways continues through a dark valley toward God’s goodness. I know a fraction of the price GOD paid for me, and in truth he never needed to send me any greater other proof of his love, for  nothing more could possibly measure up to this undying incomprehensible gift. Yet out of love, he shows me his love so tenderly and powerfully. I pray it speaks to your heart today.

How I treasure those brief flashes of deep, gut insight that hit me much less frequently than I long forDo you know what I mean: times when you feel for a Nano-second that you’ve touched a deep truth about God, and you wish with everything in you that it would engulf you so you could immerse yourself in its power? Frustratingly, those moments never linger long enough.

The latest one that grazed my consciousness on Palm Sunday, March 24th, 2013, entered the orbit of my subconscious during the week before as I searched YouTube for some exciting video and information about relative sizes of objects in space for the third grade class I assist in. Some facts about VY Canis Majoris absolutely astounded me: a red hypergiant, it’s one of the largest stars we know of, with a diameter of 1,227,000,000 miles (that’s billion, if you don’t want to count the place value yourself), or 1,975,000,000 kilometers. Take a look and be astounded:

 

To give you a better sense of that immensity, if VY Canis Majoris was at the center of our solar system, its surface would extend at least beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and perhaps as far as the orbit of Saturn. What grabbed my attention in the video was the comment that if you could fly in a jet at 900 miles per hour, it would take you over 1,000 years to fly around the star! It’s so distant that the light of VY Canis Majoris takes 3,9000 years to reach us.

I sat in bed at 5 a.m. that Sunday and tried to cold-start praise to the King of Kings as Holy Week began.  A realization rose slightly above the horizon of my consciousness: WHOSE blood bought me? WHOSE blood?  Yes, Jesus’ blood – that rolls of my tongue almost tritely sometimes – but WHAT blood is his? WHOSE BLOOD?

“And God said, ’Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,’ . . . And it was so. God made two great lights . . . .  He also made the stars. . . . “  Genesis 1:14-16

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”  Job 38:4, 7

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Psalm 147:4

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . .. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John1: 1, 3

“I, Jesus, . . . am the Root, and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

The “gestalt” of the immensity of VY Canis Major created by Jesus himself fused with these Bible verses and blazed into a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. The Blood that bled for every speck of sin in my life coursed through the veins of the ONE whose voice spoke the inferno of VY Canis Majoris  and every blazing star, asteroid, comet, planet, and moon into existence. THAT blood! The most precious fluid and outrageous gift in the universe because it was the Blood of the ONE who imagined life, then spoke blood itself into being, and who bound the vastness of HIMSELF within the confines of a completely human body to spill HIS BLOOD instead of requiring mine. Let that sink into your heart for a minute …

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!….For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.         Hebrews 9: 13-15, 24-28 NIV

princeofpeace13JesusChrist with crown of thorns

And HE, THE GOD OF CREATION, PURE RIGHTEOUSNESS, PURE HOLINESS, PURE MAJESTY, PURE LOVE willingly gave it for me. I – like every oneof us – was  bound for Hell until I saw and reached out for God’s merciful gift of love, Jesus.

Oh, I wanted to grasp the enormity of that love in every cell of my body and neuron of my understanding!  Like a meteorite, infinite love tore through the atmosphere of my finite comprehension. Why in the world do I think I’m not loved? Why do we think we have to, or ever could, earn that love? And engulfed by that love, why in the universe am I ever afraid?

“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns . . . and his name is the Word of God…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” Revelation 19:12,13,16

Even now I feel like I’m writing an ionic plasma breath of truth with hands and understanding of concrete, but O God, let me burn with that reality one day! Brand my heart with it now: I AM YOURS! YOU SOUGHT AND BOUGHT ME  WITH THE COSTLIEST TREASURE IN ALL TIME AND UNIVERSE, YOUR OWN SON JESUS!

I  worship you, LORD Jesus! You alone are worthy of true worship, and in this I lift up my love and thanks and wonder:

Therefore, so, because of this incredible gift God gave us through Jesus:

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 12-18

A “…BUT…” to pray: LORD GOD, ABBA, Father, I may think I understand what you did in sending Jesus to pay for my sins and bring  into loving righteous relationship with you, BUT LORD, my heart longs to feel this powerful, transforming reality.  I AM a sinner, saved by your grace and unmerited mercy alone, and I do feel sorrow that my sins put Jesus on the Cross, evenas I feel joy that his Blood erased them all forever, completely. Holy Spirit, pour this truth of the priceless gift poured out for me into my spirit and into every fiber of my heart and being today, by your grace __________________________________ (And God smiles and replies, “I was hoping and waiting for you to ask me for this… it’s yours!) Holy Spirit, LORD Jesus, here I am thirsting to receive your priceless reality into all of me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!  Holy Spirit, speak:  I’m eagerly listening ________________________________________________________

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WHOSE Blood Bought Me?

I’m reposting this from four years ago, on another Palm Sunday, because I need the reminder and you may, too, so that we don’t take Jesus’ sacrifice and this Holy Week for granted or make it less than the monumental move of God’s incomprehensibly great mercy, grace and untiring love that it was and will always be. That Almighty God not only puts up with us, but gave Himself bring us back into living relationship with him through the costliest offering ever made makes me fall on my face again, just as I did in  the teachers’ workroom where I came upon Vy Canis Majoris and it threw me to the floor,  and then in my living room where this thought exploded in me four years ago and put me on my face in totally sold out wonder and gratitude.  I admit fear of man threw me off track a month after this, but I come again to look to the ONE who’s kept me in the last four years despite my stumbling. THAT is the unmerited merciful GRACE OF GOD!

How I treasure those brief flashes of deep, gut insight that hit me much less frequently than I long forDo you know what I mean: times when you feel for a Nano-second that you’ve touched a deep truth about God, and you wish with everything in you that it would engulf you so you could immerse yourself in its power? Frustratingly, those moments never linger long enough.

The latest one that grazed my consciousness on Palm Sunday, March 24th, entered the orbit of my subconscious during the week before as I searched YouTube for some exciting video and information about relative sizes of objects in space for the third grade class I assist in. Some facts about VY Canis Majoris absolutely astounded me: a red hypergiant, it’s one of the largest stars we know of, with a diameter of 1,227,000,000 miles (that’s billion, if you don’t want to count the place value yourself), or 1,975,000,000 kilometers.

To give you a better sense of that immensity, if VY Canis Majoris was at the center of our solar system, its surface would extend at least beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and perhaps as far as the orbit of Saturn. What grabbed my attention in the video was the comment that if you could fly in a jet at 900 miles per hour, it would take you over 1,000 years to fly around the star! It’s so distant that the light of VY Canis Majoris takes 3,9000 years to reach us.

I sat in bed at 5 a.m. that Sunday and tried to cold-start praise to the King of Kings as Holy Week began.  A realization rose slightly above the horizon of my consciousness: WHOSE blood bought me? WHOSE blood?  Yes, Jesus’ blood – that rolls of my tongue almost tritely sometimes – but WHAT blood is his?

“And God said, ’Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,’ . . . And it was so. God made two great lights . . . .  He also made the stars. . . . “  Genesis 1:14-16

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”  Job 38:4, 7

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Psalm 147:4

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . .. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John1: 1, 3

“I, Jesus, . . . am the Root, and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

The “gestalt” of VY Canis Major fused with these Bible verses and blazed into a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. The Blood that bled for every speck of sin in my life coursed through the veins of THE ONE whose voice spoke the inferno of VY Canis Majoris into existence. THAT blood! The most precious fluid and outrageous gift in the universe because it was the Blood of the ONE who imagined, then spoke blood itself into being and who bound the vastness of himself within the confines of a completely human body to spill HIS blood instead of requiring mine.

And HE, PURE LOVE, PURE RIGHTEOUSNESS, PURE HOLINESS, PURE LORD OF ALL CREATION,  willingly gave it for me.

Oh, I wanted to grasp the enormity of that love in every cell of my body and neuron of my understanding!  Like a meteorite, infinite love tore through the atmosphere of my finite comprehension. Why in the world do I think I’m not loved? Why do we think we have to, or ever could, earn that love? And engulfed by that love, why in the universe am I ever afraid?

“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns . . . and his name is the Word of God…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” Revelation 19:12,13,16

Even now I feel like I’m writing an ionic plasma breath of truth with hands and understanding of concrete, but O God, let me burn with that reality one day! Brand my heart with it now: I AM YOURS! YOU SOUGHT ME AND BOUGHT ME! 

I WORSHIP, ADORE, PRAISE AND LOVE YOU!

A “…BUT…” to pray: Oh FAther God, Everlasting  Love, Jesus my LORD, I’ve believed you died for me to pay for my sins, but today I’masking YOU to help me feel the enormity of this truth in my heart, in my spirit, in the core of my being. I need you, ABBA Father, to invade my intellectual understanding with the visceral fact that I NEEDED to be saved or I’d be bound for Hell,  because in and of myself I have no righteousness AT ALL to stand before HOLY GOD, the Refiner and Fire who created the infernoes of the stars. And yet YOU LOVE ME! Invade, penetrate,  speak through my spirit into my heart, Holy Spirit. Here are my words of worship inviting you in __________________________________ In Jesus’ name, amen! (And the AlmightyGod your Father smiles and replies, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me this….. I’m glad you did!) _____________________________________

 

____________________________________________________

Conformity? Really? Really!

Rose Jackson © 8/27/2009


(caveat: I am not suggesting anyone endure physical or emotional abuse. Be safe and get help, please!)

The photo is the front door of the little house with the screen door out back; these front steps are filled with love.

Love that keeps on coming. Love that gets slapped down and gets up again to keep loving. Love that refuses to quit.

I used to read the verse, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18) and other verses like it (1 Cor. 15:49, Romans 8:29) that talk about being like Christ, and I’d think, “Oh, yes, God, that’s what I want to be!”

Did I? Did I want to be the one who’s betrayed and comes back, bleeding, but loving still? Did I really want to be the one who endures accusations, condemnation and lies, and looks beyond the sin to see the wounding of the sinner and to forgive? Is that what I really wanted? I never looked that deeply into what it cost God to bring us to him, because that’s the reality of being like Jesus: love that never turns away, never gives up! Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Cor. 13: 7)

In frustration I often cry out, “God, why don’t you . . . why aren’t you . . . .?” My real question – as Philip Yancey writes in his book “Disappointment with God” – should be, “God, why do you bother to . . . . What is it that drives you to love me still in the face of my anger, my accusations, my condemnation, my apathy, my lies about your motives and your heart? Why don’t you give up on me?”

My real question should be why Jesus had to die to prove God’s love for us. Yes, I know Jesus’ blood atones for us. But God isn’t bloodthirsty., so why did it require that? I wonder – is it in part because our sixth love language (beyond affirming words, loving touch, giving gifts, acts of service, and quality time) , the bottom line we humans all understand, the one we all hold out for and perhaps even demand as proof of love, is blood: sacrificing your own life for mine? That we understand – maybe, until some circumstance or event that doesn’t go according to our plans causes us to question God’s heart. I’m not condemning you, my readers; I’ve done that myself, and I know it comes out of pain and confusion.

Even after Jesus shed his own blood and God sacrificed his beloved Son, we don’t believe God loves us! Is it that perhaps some stubborn, self-preserving pride drives us to deny such love?

“No, my circumstances tell me . . . . ” “But I don’t feel your love, God . . . .” Perversely somehow we’d rather think we’re right that God doesn’t love us than come to him in humbled recognition that there’s no reason on earth that God should love us – no reason besides WHO GOD IS himself: completely LOVE!

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16

I can hardly read the computer screen through the tears flooding from my recognition of the extravagant, unjustified, unrelenting love of God. My tears come, too, from the knowledge that I had to endure betrayal – and that I had to recognize the lies I had held onto, also, that kept me from loving unrelentingly – to finally get it in my gut that God IS love, nothing but love, purely and unceasingly love.

This conforming business hurts – but rather than resent God for the pain, I see and now hunger to press in to the truth that Jesus bore, and bears joyfully, even deeper pain to love me. In the scariest valley of my life, I am rejoicing and reveling like a glutton in the passionate, unrelenting love God has for me – so I can get up and love again, and again, and again.

Why won’t you come through the screen door into arms waiting to embrace you? What circumstances in your life are big enough to outweigh the relentless, extravagant love of God in Jesus? What are you holding out for?

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Why won’t you love with his love? Who won’t you love with his love?

A “ . . . but . . . “ to pray: God, ABBA Father, Daddy, maybe not in my mind, but in my heart I have denied your love for me over and over again, BUT who are you, what kind of love can this be that loves in the face of pain, again and again and again? I want that love for me and in me. Maybe I’m still too scared to truly want it through me, BUT because you love me, I am willing to love this one who keeps denying and rejecting my love. Hold my hand and hold my heart as I keep loving, and please give me joy along the way so I can persist and pursue and bear your likeness in me.

Your own “. . . but . . .” to pay: Father God, Jesus, lover of my soul, I have denied your love for me because _________________________________ BUT I lay that down in the face of your relentless love, and I say to you now _____________________. I’ve been hurt so badly that I don’t want to keep loving ________________, BUT ___________________.

Simply a Saturday Miracle

Rose Jackson © 3/25/2009

Prani breathlessly opened the pool gate and called, “Does anybody here know anyone with B-negative blood?”

That’s the last question you expect to hear the assistant manager of a guest house in Thailand ask tourist families splashing in the pool and licking ice cream treats on a warm Saturday afternoon.

Startled, Monica rose up on her arm from her towel on the pool deck next to me and quizzically replied, “Emma does.”

“Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed. I didn’t know that, and I’m her mother-in-law.

Monica, a nurse, turned to me with a panicked “Where is she?” look as she shot back to Prani, “What happened?”

“A tourist who just came here last night was in an accident and needs blood so the doctors can do emergency surgery. He’s B-negative.”

I must have still looked confused as Monica and I both scrambled to our feet, because Monica hastily explained, “Asians don’t have the Rh-negative factor in their blood. Where’s Emma?”

Like a beautifully painted scroll unrolling, the full implication of this emergency spun through my mind. A couple thrown into crisis on their first day in a strange, foreign city. Doctors tell the wife surgery is urgent to save her husband’s life, but they have no compatible blood, nor does the other hospital in town. Panic must grip her. Is there a foreigner in town with compatible blood, and how could they possibly track that person down? Where could they even begin to look? Hotels certainly don’t have that information. What are the odds?

Rushing past Prani, I blurt, “Emma’s on her way here with the children. I’ll find her!” Prani replies, “I’ll call the hospital.”

What a wonder: this is the one Saturday of our stay when we didn’t plan any tours or shopping trips. Emma stops, children in hand, as I rush toward her down the path, panting. “It’s an emergency. Someone needs B-negative blood.” We scoop up the children and dash back to their room, hand the kids off with a fleeting explanation to a puzzled Rick, toss on T-shirts and jeans, and run through the dappled shade on the driveway toward the guest house office, the laughter of children swinging and sliding on the playground an other-worldly contrast to our anxious hearts.

As Emma gives information to Prani, the pieces of this puzzle fly together to reveal a picture nothing short of a miracle. Piece one: Prani used to be a nurse, and she “happens” to know the nurse overseeing foreigners at this hospital. Piece two: the injured man “happens” to be taken to this particular hospital. Piece three: Emma has B-negative blood. Piece four: Emma “happens” to be in this particular town at this particular time. Piece five: Emma and Rick “happen” to be staying at the guest house Prani manages. Piece six: Monica, a colleague of Emma and Rick, “happens” to know Emma’s blood type. Piece seven: Monica “happens” to be at the pool with her children when Prani comes, hoping against hope to find a blood donor. If even one piece were missing, this man would die.

Like a jasmine-laden breeze, a peaceful calm enfolded us as attendants quickly bustled Emma into the ambulance that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Mouths open in wonder, we looked at each other across the cots. What’s the proper protocol when you realize you’re caught up by the hand of God in a miracle? Nothing seemed better to do than pray for this man, his doctors, and his wife, and pray that Emma would be able to give the blood he desperately needed.

“I know, I have small veins,” Emma apologized to the hospital technicians who speedily and skillfully descended upon her as soon as we arrived. Though their English was halting, it was obvious they were thankful Emma was willing to give her blood. Two attempts, two veins, and several embarrassed giggles and apologies in Thai later, a phlebotomist sped off with the pint of blood that meant life to someone we would never meet. Wanting to offer some comfort and hope, we asked if we could speak to the man’s wife. Privacy rules made that impossible, so we prayed again that the surgery would go smoothly and healing would come quickly.

How surreal! On vacation in between conferences, here we were in Thailand in a hospital on a Saturday afternoon, Emma with bandages on both of her arms, and me still wearing a bathing suit under my shirt and jeans! Is that what a miracle is supposed to look like? To the rest of the bustling city, it was simply Saturday. Shouldn’t the heavens open, or an angel appear, or something supernatural happen to let you know you’re in the middle of the miraculous?

Evidently not, or at least not always. Sometimes – probably most frequently, I expect – miracles come in quite ordinary packages, via quite ordinary “happen-ings,” pieced together extraordinarily and placed in the praying hands of people who helplessly hope for them. Do they wonder, and will that couple ever know, their miracle is named Emma? Perhaps some Saturday quite simply, when and where you least expect it, someone’s miracle will be named you!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Today, TWO “. . . but . . .”s to pray: Most amazing Father, sometimes I’ve looked for heaven-rending miracles and passed off as coincidence so many of the “ordinary” miracles you’ve done for me. I need one now and don’t see how it can happen, BUT I know you will and do position your resources and your children to provide wondrous help to supply my deepest needs. Too often I’m focused on receiving a miracle, BUT it’s just awesome to be an instrument in your hand in delivering a miracle for someone else! I give you permission to – in fact, I pray you will – use me in extraordinary ways in “ordinary”, “simply Saturday” miracles to bless the world around me.
Your own “. . . but . . .” to pray:
God of miracles and my Father in Heaven, I’ve been so busy looking for ____________________ and I haven’t recognized the amazing things you are doing for and through me, BUT I believe you can __________________________________ . I am in awe to know you can and will move your people around the world to meet my needs, and I have faith to ask you to use me to _______________________________________ Amen!