Would I dare speak of being a Christ follower without holding my own “self” accountable to the Calvary part of God’s Love Story? I rarely hear the word outside of Easter. Calvary. It wasn’t even in my Webster’s Universal College Dictionary (1997). Siri misunderstood me.
As Christians, we recently celebrated Resurrection Sunday. Such joy to behold that day—forgiveness, salvation, grace and glory, risen life! But what happens after that? I have to ask myself because I am a Christ follower and I carry a cross of grief and shame. I know I’m forgiven. I know Christ is my Friend, my Comforter in grief, my Salvation in shame. I know this. But surrender can be a slow climb, it can take time. As I wrote to a friend recently, it can be both exhilarating and excruciating. I think it’s okay to admit that. I wish more people would. How can being molded and shaped and refined not hurt?
Still, I would have it no other way—rooting rather than potentially rotting. “…Rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate word, Jesus. Listening to the voice of love and finding there the wisdom and courage to address whatever issue presents itself.”*
Jesus is both Shepherd and King. He is where abundant life begins for me. He is the Well from which all blessings flow. The Mystery: Christ in us, moment by moment, breath by breath, all grace, resurrecting new life within.
“If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without shame and grief, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” ~Amy Carmichael
I wonder what the image of a self-made woman, who thought she could go it alone, would look like being turned inside out. Would she find a visibly definitive, conditional kind of love for others or the unconditional, unending love Christ showed us on Calvary taking shape? Which would I find? Because that’s the question I need to answer. I want the latter.
The definition of Calvary according to my Siri (an Aussie named Jack) was actually for “cavalry”:
“Noun (in the past) soldiers who fought on horseback.
Modern soldiers who fight in armored vehicles.”
Aren’t we modern soldiers? And this “vehicle,” the body, must be equipped with the full Armor: the belt of truth buckled around one’s waist, the breastplate of righteousness in place, feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, wearing the shield of faith and helmet of salvation, and never forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.* We need it all, day by day, moment by moment. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”*
It would be a lie if I didn’t say that the Cross of Calvary is hard for me to grasp. It’s both contradiction and mystery: crucifixion/resurrection, condemnation/forgiveness, rejection/acceptance, free choice/Divine Will, loss/gain, death/life, hate and, there it is, love. The Mystery, Christ in us by His Spirit, His sacrificial Love, making us into the individual masterpieces God originally intended.
What does that mean? Surrender. Taking ourselves off the throne. And as Christ followers, our thoughts, words–spoken and written, our lives, need to be living examples.
Is mine…? I hope with each passing day, a little bit more.
We need each other. We need to keep each other accountable. It’s so much easier to find fault in another than it is to look inside oneself…
*Henri Nouwen; Ephesians 6: 14-17; Romans 13:12 KJV
God makes all things beautiful in His time.
Feature photo credit: Jeff Zmania