For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Brutal Beauty of the Cross

Dear Fallon,

I finished my online class today, so I've started reading Chasing Francis again. I had finished through chapter 2 when the main character, Chase, agreed to go on a pilgrimage with his Uncle Kenny. I put the book down because it sounded too much like my desires when we visited Italy. I had wanted to visit the churches, sit and be still, listen, find something that I knew was missing. Of course, keeping the baby inside me safe was more important, so our four months of touring Italy became a trying nine days and emergency trip home. That baby is now closer to 15 years than 14, and I'm still seeking.

I'm completely unimpressed with this middle class Jesus America has made a business of.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't think the American church is the anti-Christ. I just don't think it really wants to know Christ. It wants to know what it can get but not what is needs to sacrifice.

We have these strip mall and grocery store rehabbed churches, and they have lovely interiors, comfy chairs, rock star stages. They want people to feel comfortable, and folks do. But there is no power to change lives in the comfortable. There is no reason to change if we are comfortable.

So people don't.

People don't change.
Lives don't change.
Families don't change.

I believe it's because people aren't being taught that the only real life comes from being crucified, but we can't have that in the churches because that is gory and scary and shocking and who wants to see a suffering Christ? Besides, that isn't the story, is it? The story is the resurrection. The story is forgiveness. The story is eternal life.

Except the only way to life is through death on a cross that we either don't allow at the front of the church, or we sand it smooth because we don't want anyone getting splinters, and we gloss it up with varnish so it's pretty.

Except, when it comes to the cross, there are splinters, and it isn't always pretty, but it is wildly beautiful...this cross we have to step into if we are ever going to truly be resurrected because the life Jesus came to give is also for the here and now, not just the here after.

And how can we take on new flesh when the old is alive and well, and what would kill it unless we put it on the cross and take Jesus as our own?

But we don't like the cross because it reminds us of who we are.

We are sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

We are not simply people who make mistakes and need someone to clean up the mess. We are the mess, and we need to be cleaned up.

But how do you wash the filth off this muddy mess except for the blood of the Christ, and how does one bathe in that anywhere but where it was spilled? It wasn't spilled on an altar in a Tabernacle. It was spilled on a hill for all to see. It wasn't a humane sacrificing. It was a brutal one.

And how do you make that comfortable?

As a teenager, I sat in a Catholic church staring at Christ on the cross, and it made sense to me. When nothing else in the world made sense, that did. And it wasn't ugly. Or scary. Or hideous.

It was the most amazingly beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Because in the cross I found an odd belonging.

It is the only place I have ever seen a hand reaching out to me because I was wanted.
It is the only place I have found I am loved by choice, not by circumstance.

In the cross I found someone who chose me.

The truth is the cross is the only place I have ever felt chosen.

Maybe the cross is shocking. How can I realize how much I deserve His hatred, see how determined He is to love me, and not be shocked?

How can I find offense in a cross that reached beyond my offenses so I could be chosen?

Was it brutal? Yes.
Was it horrific? Yes.
The fact that humans could do such inhuman things to another man is horrifying.
The fact that He would endure it for me...the most amazingly, beautiful thing I've ever known.


copyright 2014, Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

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