Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Friday

We had had a bad week.

Well, I can’t speak for him, but I had had a bad week, and it culminated, as it usually does, in us taking it all out on each other.

The busyness. The frustrations. The obstacles. The fears.

They all came crashing to a head, and I broke under the weight of it.

I’m not pleased nor proud that this is my pattern, but it is. The pattern of the everyday. The pattern of the worn out, the weary. The pattern of the sinner.

I stumbled, feeling every frayed edge of the day, into the Good Friday service, not feeling it, not wanting it, and not expecting it. It was supposed to be a time of reflection.

Oh, I had reflected alright. Reflected on hurt. Reflected on anger. Reflected on injustice.

Reflected on me rather than Him.

So I stumbled from the car—did that door close a little too hard?—and up the stairs—Why, hello! How was your day?—and straight into Him.

Only He was wearing a dress. And had thinning hair. And was sitting in a wheelchair. And was reaching out to me with a shaking hand, eyes locked on mine.

He mumbled something I couldn’t understand, and His husband was standing behind the chair, eyes pleading too, begging.

I grabbed His hand, trying to be kind.

“Will you help us, please?” His husband asked, gently. “My wife really needs to use the bathroom.”

The worn and weary became fear and I-can’t-do-this-but-what-choice-do-I-have?

Let me tell you something about me. When I sin, I sin big; you just can’t see it. Oh, it’s there, festering, stumbling, growing underneath a smile and a hug and a kindness that seems real.

And so I did what any person would do in a church. I said, “Sure. I’ll help you. Just tell me what to do.” But inside I was praying, “Why me?!

This is a fear, a huge fear of mine: Sick people. Weak people. People who need other people. And Jesus, seeing my weakened, sinful state, after a week of outright ugly, knew this.

Still, He asked. Of course, He asked.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40
Help Me? When it’s convenient.

Serve Me? When I have time.

Die for Me? Wait, You’re supposed to do that.

When I joined my family in the darkened church, unready to worship, I was wrecked.

The huge, wooden cross, draped in black, crown of thorns perched on top, mocked me from the front. The words to every song humiliated me.

He was not the One needing my help--I was the one needing His. His help, His service, His death. In my selfish state, I could not see Him until He asked me to do the one thing I did not think I could do.

Sick, weak, needy. That is the state of my heart every moment of every day. I should be in a hospital, I need healing so badly.

Yet in His merciful, graceful, lovingkindness He showed me that even at my worst—my sickened, weakened, needy state—He could still use me, helpless. In fact, only in that state can He truly use me.

“But God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Upside down grace, that’s what He showed me last Friday.

Good Friday.


  1. Beautifully written. I could see myself in your sin and the precious grace of Jesus in the answer.

  2. Nancy Martin KargApril 10, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Ah, to be sick, weak and needy is to be free. I was born to atheists, an outcast.
    And here with the other people on the fringes of Christian society, Jesus lives also. Thank you for being a person who sees the gap in our churches and Christian community and who tries to build bridges.

  3. I am so guilty, guilty, guilty! And yet He still shows me His mercy and leads me back into His way. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Beautiful Shelly! I've been there too. Thank you for sharing from your weakness with us today. We're all weak. Every last one of us. Thanks for being real.

  5. Thanks for sharing your tough week and His beautiful grace! Blessings!

  6. Oh, Shelly. Oh.

    As you know, I am rarely at a loss for words. But upon reading your post? Oh.

    Dear Jesus. Really.

  7. How interesting that the Lord chose this time to ask you to do something so hard. I am so glad you said, "YES", and did not miss this hard amazing moment.

  8. This is beautiful Shelly! So very true!