Tuesday, 22 March 2016

I am on His mind

A shrouded Monday. The mists seem particularly viscous and a pervasive grayness hangs over everything. Droplets form on the edge of the gutter and shimmer brief and fragile as the sun finds a crack in the low cloud-bank. I empty the dog's water bowl into the potted herbs, and when I straighten up, a cold wind comes biting. Without warning, large icy drops start falling in silver streaks. Red-ripe chillies quiver on their stalks. The scent of moldy leaves, curry bush and wattle fire smoke lends spice to a drab day. Sounds come drifting up without substance - a truck labouring up the hill, the neighbour's tea-time gong, and then; the first sweet notes of the frogs' rain-song. Ironically, when I slip back into the warm kitchen, "Keep on the sunny side of life" is playing indoors. God certainly has a sense of humour!

Our children are happily decorating pine-cones in anticipation of a rather unconventional Easter-egg hunt. I personally struggle to keep an equilibrium during this time of remembering. The "Happy Easter Messages" are coming in, along with everything else that accompanies this time of year. I try to explain the unexpected tears to these young ones, and they surprise me with their depth of understanding. The eldest asks: "Why did God punish Jesus if He never did anything wrong?" He has a strong sense of justice and I totally understand that to him, this seems completely upside down. Even if He comprehends that it was out of love for us. His brother does away with the need for a well thought-through answer when he replies: "Because He did not want to hurt us."

I struggle to find any words to give shape to what is in my heart at this time. So I found a hymn instead:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
                                          (Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932)

There is another wonder that is too amazing for us to comprehend. But that does not make it any less true. This song sums it up well:

I'm not on an ego trip,
I'm nothing on my own.
I've made mistakes and often slip,
I'm just common flesh and bone.

But I'll prove some day just what I say
I'm of a special kind.
For while He was on the cross -
I was on His mind

The look of love was on His face.
The thorns on His head.
The blood was on that scarlet robe,
And it was stained in crimson red.

Though His eyes were on the crowd that day,
He looked ahead in time.
For while He was on the cross, listen:
You were on His mind.

He knew me, yet He loved me.
He whose glory makes the Heaven shine.
I'm so unworthy of such mercy,
For while He was on the cross -
I was on His mind.

Yes, while He was on the cross -
You were on His mind.
                               (Jason Crabb)

This is what I would like to leave with you today. Jesus did not die for a collective mankind. A blurred sea of faces. He died for individuals, each one's name etched on the palm of His hand. Each hair on your head counted, each freckle and smile noted, each voice and laugh treasured and each burden and ache shared.

And when light streamed into the sealed tomb, you and I each walked away from death with Him. The cross is empty, the tomb is empty, but heaven is filled with endless songs of praise for Him who sets every captive who accepts the salvation He offers free. Regardless. He washed the feet of the disciples, but He washed all of me. He whose glory makes the heaven shine.

For while Jesus was on the cross, you and I were on His mind. We still are, and will be, always.