Sunday, March 29, 2015

Only Jesus Can Give That New Skirt

I stood at the ironing board pressing a multi-colored cotton skirt. The radio was tuned to a station playing Christian music and the song playing was a familiar one. I hummed along moving the steamy iron back and forth in rhythm to the music. I knew the tune but for whatever reason had never really paid much attention to the lyrics. Then, boom, the words suddenly hit me as very unsettling:

“You may be knocked down now but don't forget what He said, He said. I won't give you more, more than you can take and I might let you bend, but I won't let you break and No-o-o-o-o, I'll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o. Don't you forget what He said…”

Did God really say that He won’t give me more than I can take?

Really? Because I think I passed my limit a long time ago.

Here’s what I do actually find in scripture:

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

Paul’s life was dedicated to living for and like Jesus. Yet, he wrote those words because this life that he had chosen was hard. He felt the despair. He felt like he was dying.

To live like Jesus feels like dying. Living for Jesus feels like dying because that’s exactly what Jesus did, but there was a purpose in it. Paul talked about that too.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Living like Jesus feels like dying, but it gives us the comfort only God can give us. It is comfort that only God can offer because even if it kills us, He has the power to raise the dead. That’s why we continue to do it. Plus, there are people around us who need to know and experience that comfort and we need to show them.

Here’s the thing. To say God won’t give me more than I can handle is basically saying, “I can handle it myself.” And if I can handle it, then I don’t need God. But I can’t handle it. My track record proves that.

I'm just like the skirt I'm trying to iron. Wrinkled, faded, worn, jostled through a wringer, tumbled around in a hot cylinder, and pressed with a burning, steamy iron, doing everything I can to look brand new. But I am not new. I die a little bit every day. Some days more than others. Some days a lot more than others.

As much as I might want them to, and as much as those who love me may try, there is not a human soul on this earth who can stitch all my torn remnants back together or make the grim reaper stop breathing down my neck. Only the God of all comforts who raises the dead can do that. Jesus is the proof.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be broken. He knows what it’s like to feel death coming.

He's the only one who can make my life feel like I'm wearing a brand new skirt for the first time. A skirt that's never been subject to sweat, dirt, stretching, or harsh cleaning chemicals. Even if I have to wear that new skirt to a funeral.

Yes, to live like Jesus feels like dying and that makes me more alive than anything in this world. 

This was originally posted March 29, 2015 on the Press and Standard website:

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