“I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist” Isaiah 44:22
Getting my four-year-old dressed on Sunday mornings should be an Olympic sport. A dozen times around the island, five backflips, a game of hiding dad’s glasses and thirty minutes later, it’s time for a shower and another round of deodorant. It moves fast, is exhilarating and exhausting in the same breath, neurotic and physically challenging, and you must be committed if you want to bring home the gold.
My prayer life lately seems to host a resounding bell. Another walk by still waters looms on the horizon. At this time, I’m not privy to the details but lately, the prominent whisper to detach and prepare the way transitions to a higher decibel with every purpose filled step. This journey has already been strenuous. There have been bumps in the road, lost relationships, financial woes, blunt conversations of change and moments of paralysis. I have no idea what is coming or what it looks like, but I do know the training has already begun and anything less than a fully committed spirit will leave me short of the finish line.
Earlier in life, I thought my identity would most closely resemble that of Simon Peter. A man’s man, a fisherman, not afraid of a fight and a loyal companion, but as I continue down this path, it is others that stand out. Maybe Nicodemus, a Pharisee and one of great wealth and wisdom. He invites Jesus in the dark of night to visit about His teachings and receives a face-to-face invitation that he refuses. Maybe it is Barrabas, a criminal for the ages. Every move and every thought steeped in sin and selfish motivation. A less than worthy prison cell for his permanent home and a life sentence that would not cover a newton meter of his wrongdoings, deserving nothing less than all of hell and the weeping and gnashing that goes with it. Maybe it’s a combination of the three, with the habitual denominator being a less than devoted life.
Looking in the mirror on this early January morning wondering what the new year may contain, I find myself beating my body, training my thoughts and holding myself accountable for every slanderous word, careless tone, selfish motivation, impatient outburst and coarse sentence uttered from my heart and lips. The preparation has been rigorous and a staunch dedication to see it through, while mandatory, has left me with the insufficient funds to pay for it. Understanding the intersection of Jesus’ love when He willingly carried my prison sentence to the hill of Calvary and the vitality of life in James 14:4 delivers me to the foot of the Cross once more wondering why I ever sold my soul for anything less in the first place. I am completely aware of how tight my grip is on the plow. I’m completely aware of my reluctance to throw in the net once more. I am completely aware of how many times I have walked away, unable to commit and surrender everything I own. I am completely aware of my resemblance with burnt chaff. And, I am completely aware of how many times I have turned down the same invitation. What leaves me on my face in a pool of tears is how many times the call continues to come and a promise that this out of shape runner up has a crown of righteousness in store for him because the perfect life of Jesus Christ was committed, stepped into my cell, took my place and redeemed this thief from life without parole.