It’s 3 AM and I am awake. Awake enough to know I may as well get up and now I am wrapped in my favorite wool shawl with a big mug of hot chocolate beside me and my little fake fireplace dealing with the chill. And a tiny, but oh so powerful phrase running through my mind, in Christ. Those two words, eight letters, have transformed my life. In Christ.
If there is such a creature as an ordinary person I would fit into that category. There are so many amazing women accomplishing amazing things in this world. I am not one of them. There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians that I gladly embrace, “…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world…” I am more than happy to fall into that category – a foolish thing.
Years ago I was going through a very difficult time in my life and it had gone on for a long time. By nature an optomist, being in this bleak a place felt all wrong. I didn’t doubt God but I sure doubted myself. When you are feeling that low you isolate, hide the shame of your nakedness. But a few friends insisted I join them at a retreat and I still had enough pride that I couldn’t tell them exactly how undeserving of their friendship, unworthy of their time I felt. I did not want to go. But I went. I insisted though on sitting alone at the back of the room. Who needs a spotlight – the crying alone was enough to draw attention.
And then it happened. The event that had such a huge impact on my life. There are people who see things, hear things, just know things – stranger things. I am not one of them. I am pragmatic, practical – rooted in the earth. A gardener – not a mystic. But as I sat there, bent low and weeping, I had a vision. I saw Jesus, on the cross, golden and glowing – like an Oscar or the Terminator. And as I walked towards him a cleft opened in his chest, his heart. And either he was large enough or I was small enough, but I walked into that cleft and it closed behind me. I was in Christ. And that was it. This life altering event possibly lasted all of 10 seconds. But it changed everything.
Not that overnight I went from depressed, hopeless, and needy to confident and joyful. I still had a lot of work to uproot and tear down the lies my life was based on. But it gave me a foundation. I was loved. I was safe. I was his. This starting point gave me the courage to venture out into the world, to give purpose to my life. The rest of that verse in 1 Corinthians goes on to say…”God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are so that no man may boast before God.” But notice that amazing verb – chosen, three times. God has chosen. Me.
In Christ. A quick search on a Bible app tells me that little phrase, in Christ, occurs 87 times in the New Testament. If for some reason you happen to be awake at 3 AM there are far worse things you can do than meditate on some of those ‘in Christs’. There are many rich and glorious promises involved and from the vantage point of one looking backwards over vast decades (like hills rolling behind me) they are all true.
I’ll close with a favorite quote from CS Lewis in The Weight of Glory, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
As I wrote that word cleft I remembered singing this song with my older sister at the piano so many years ago, completely unaware of the import of the lyrics.