Monday, April 11, 2011

A Better Song

We are deep into the Lenten season now. This coming weekend we will celebrate Palm Sunday, always a joyful day when we remember and often recreate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is a time of confidence and celebration, when we shout out our praises to God. It’s easy to praise God in the middle of a party.

I’m guessing this is what boltstered Peter’s declaration to Jesus that even though others may fall away from Him, he never will. I mean, it must have been some parade. I can totally see Peter getting a glimpse of the true identity of Jesus in that moment as the Son of God, not just to know intellectually, but to also see God’s glory in Him and on Him. Because I have experienced those moments of absolute certainty of God’s power and presence, I can totally relate to the surety of Peter’s declaration, based upon a moment of revelation that moved him deeply. It’s just too bad we cannot live in those moments.

I remember in seminary that one of my best professor’s least favorite hymns was “Are Ye Able Said the Master.” It’s lyrics go like this:

“Are ye able,” said the Master, “to be crucified with me?” “Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered, “to the death we follow thee.”

Lord, we are able. Our spirits are thine. Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.

Thy guiding radiance above us shall be a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.

I had a hard time understanding his dislike for it then. I guess I was still a sturdy dreamer. Here is what I realize now: when we can easily see God’s power and strength and glory in those precious moments of clarity, when God gives us a revealing moment to understand His true nature, it’s easy to ride on the confidence of that moment into promises of faithfulness that our own power and strength can’t keep. We think we can follow Him anywhere. And if the life of discipleship were all radiance, we could. But the road to the crucifixion quickly becomes dark. When Jesus calls us to discipleship, He says, “Pick up your cross and follow Me.” That road is not one of uninterrupted radiance. It is a road of trust. It is a road where our confidence in self dies, so that confidence in Him is all that remains. I have never heard this road spoken of as easy. And like all of us who answer the call to follow Him, Peter learns it soon enough. In a courtyard where he tries to follow Jesus, even from a distance, Peter’s confidence is broken. He denies Jesus so easily, not just once but three times. In that moment Peter’s self-confidence is crucified.

I love that Jesus gets this about Peter before Peter ever does. Jesus sees the truth in Peter before the denial ever happens. But what is more, Jesus sees in that heartbreaking denial the birth of real confidence, the kind that is the gift of the Holy Spirit, a confidence in God’s grace and power to redeem that moved a crowd of 3000 to accept Jesus as their risen Lord and Savior. I love that Jesus brings beautiful endings to our stories of brokenness. I love that we can trust Him to bring His glory out of our moments of heartache, loss, and sadness.

Another song comes to mind. I learned it when I was working as a summer intern for a youth group during college. It’s words go like this:

“We believe in God, and we all need Jesus, ‘Cause life is hard, and it might not get easier. But don’t be afraid to know who you are, and don’t be afraid to show it. If you believe in God, if you say you need Jesus, He’ll be where you are, And He never will leave you. Sing to me now words that are true so all in this place can know it. We believe in God, and we all need Jesus.”

It is a better song. We have no way of knowing what will come. Sometimes it is impossible to see the Via Dolerosa that lies ahead. But we can trust that Jesus walks every part of that road with us. We can be assured that He will never ask us to walk a road that He hasn’t walked before us to prepare the way. We can also rest in His promise to never leave us nor forsake us, to walk every step of the way with us. Finally, we can trust that He will bring forth His glory in the very part of our journey that grieves us the most. His resurrection is a promise of redemption that touches every part of our walk with Him. Praise the Lord! So this is my Lenten reflection today. I want to sing a better song: not to put confidence in the flesh, which I know is weak; but to walk with courage into the unknown because I know He walks with me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Dear, precious ones, my prayer for you is that you will live and walk fearlessly, unafraid to be true to the persons He made you to be. Because He truly is where you are, He love loves you, and He gives you every Strength you need to courageously walk forward. And for the record, I love you too.

This is me trusting,


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