Today is Good Friday. It is the beginning of Passover. It is the day when the Lamb of God was sacrificed to cover the sin debt by every person in all history of time. This is a big day! There should be some kind of resounding…something.
I know several churches that are having “Reflection Services” today, services to be still, ponder our guilt, ponder our inability to be good enough, ponder how woefully unworthy we are so we can be crazy stunned by how wondrously loving God is and how unfathomable the gift of His Son is. And despite my best efforts, I can’t go there.
It isn’t that I don’t understand my inability to save myself. I live that reality every single day. It isn’t that I don’t believe in the cross or the empty tomb. I also live that reality every single day. It is the only thing that helps me overcome the reality of myself.
This morning I sat and watched the sun and prayed for a moment of… I wanted an emotional moment of connecting with God, of having my life-altered, of being shattered maybe, of…
I wrote the following in my journal:
I am trying to have an experience. Isn’t it supposed to be some kind of life-altering day? That is what I am trying to have. A life-altering encounter. I am trying to have an emotional moment with God.
I mean, isn’t that the point of reflection on Good Friday? To have this heartbreaking, reality moment with God where I realize how small I am and how big He is and how desperate I am and how benevolent He is?
But that isn’t what I feel. At all.
I don’t feel desperate or crushed or crappy.
I feel so wildly loved.
So insanely important.
In the movie Saving Private Ryan, a clerk writing letters to the family of deceased soldiers realizes that three brothers have died and a fourth is also in the war. A decision is made to save Private Ryan and make sure he is returned home safely. Captain Miller and seven men are sent to find Ryan. Lives are sacrificed in the process, and when Ryan is saved from the battle taking place where he is, Captain Miller says simply, “Earn this.”
How in the world could a man earn lives lost to save him?How in the world could I ever earn a Life sacrificed for me?
Simple answer: It isn’t possible…and yet, it is.
But I don’t “earn” it by living in the past, by beating myself up over what I used to be, or even what I still struggle with now.
From my journal:
I really want to honor God for His acts, for His sacrifice I cannot even begin to fathom, and I want to honor Jesus for His sacrifice, but I do not see how grieving and returning to a pit of self-hatred and wallowing in misery honors Him at all. Isn’t that what He died to deliver me from?
I keep thinking of Saving Private Ryan when Captain Miller says, “Earn this.” Private Ryan kneels before that cross in that cemetery and asks if he has been enough. He has lived a life meant to honor the sacrifices made for him.
Isn’t that how I need to live?
Isn’t that how I should think?
Shouldn’t my life be lived to honor the One who sacrificed Himself for me?
Shouldn’t it be about living bigger,
living more intentionally,
living more authentically,
living more loved,
living more aware of my value?
Isn’t the point of Christ’s death and resurrection to deliver me from the hell I find myself in so I can live a life that honors the God who gave the gift?
Isn’t the point of Christ on the cross summed up in John 3:16: For GOD so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not die but have everlasting life?
Is it possible to focus on the crucifixion of Christ without looking at how I should then live?
Can I earn what was given for me?
But I can live the love back to Him that He poured out for me. I honor Him by loving Him and living in such a way as to make His sacrifice worth it.
That is the life of being sacrificed for.That is the life He bought by sacrificing Himself to save me.
That is the life of a Private Ryan.