It’s no shocker for me to say the main way I connect with God is through music (Well, duh!!). The music coupled with the lyrics sink into me and stay with me giving me ideas to think about during the day (Phil 4:8) and help me figure out or simply apply scripture (Heb 4:12, 2 Cor 10:5). The lyrics that zinged me the other day were from Mercy Me’s "Dear Younger Me" (Do you know Bart Millard’s story behind writing this song? Super easy to find if you google it.):
“If I knew then what I know now condemnation would’ve had no power"
“My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth”
“Dear younger me, it’s not your fault. You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross”
The beautiful thing about poetry is it helps us dial in on what we’re feeling and the effect it is having on us. Poetry is so open in expression it flings the doors wide for the Holy Spirit to whisper into our heart, our circumstance, our life; so one person’s expression can become uniquely our own. (BTW, you have GOT to come to the Spring sermon series – it’s going to all be out of the psalms, one of the bible’s books of poetry!) Poetry can help the Holy Spirit talk to you if you let it…
Several years ago in the month before Easter, I lost my dad and, what turned out to be our last pregnancy. Before the second loss, a friend text me, “Praising God for giving life as He takes one away.” The artist’s heart in me latched on to those words with fervent hope there’d be a bundle to hold into the future while letting go of the past. It just seemed so like something God would do, right? But that’s not what happened. The past ended and then it felt like the future did too…at Easter. Can you feel the irony of that??
So I have a question: Did the Father love Jesus any less while he was being flogged? Did the Father love Jesus any less while he was hanging on the cross in complete injustice and humiliation?
Of course not. Yet how often do we interpret darkness and shadow in our lives as lack of His love? Or even worse: lack of His care? “My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth.” I admit, I fall into the sin of thinking when things are good I’m good with God, when things are not, I think I’m out. I let my joy or my pain define my worth.
But in shadow times, we must reframe our perspective; remember His passion and let it reframe our perspective. From our vantage point in history we can see that if anything, the Father’s love for Jesus (and us) was greater at those very moments! The mercy mixed with grief is almost unbearable for me to think about. But that’s exactly what I need to do when I find myself in darkness and shadow: in knowing my Advocate has felt what I am feeling (Rom 8:34). I need to be brought closer to Him, letting the shadow give me a glimpse deeper into Him (1 Cor 3:12), letting it bring deeper knowledge and communion with Him.
The empty cross of Easter tells every shadow, all of them, “It is finished,”(John 19:30): the shadows inflicted on us by others, the shadows we inflict on ourselves, even the shadows (maybe especially these) that are just a part of life in a fallen world. The shadows can be redeemed on this side of heaven through deeper fellowship with Jesus and redeemed to His original intention when we live with Him in eternity.
I pray you will turn to Him, not away, in the midst of whatever season you find yourself in. I pray I will do the same as well.