Today, I took a study break outside. It was a wonderful 60 degrees and I was setting up the grill to cook some marinated chicken. I was watching the sun begin the path below the horizon and I knew this would be a great sunset because the clouds were set up for the perfect show. My playlist, "The Glories of the Mountains" was playing on the stereo and my roommate's dog was running around my ankles waiting for me to play fetch. I finished up the chicken and grabbed some sweet potato fries just in time to watch the painting begin. The sun lit the sky on fire and the birds were alive with their God-given song. And I felt nothing. I felt no connection to this Divine Lord, the One in charge of the sky's orchestra.
I changed the playlist to "When Only Worship Makes Sense" and I dropped to my knees. These words pumped through the speakers for the third time today:
"Ye who think of sin but lightly. Nor suppose the evil great. Here may view its nature rightly. Here its guilt may estimate. Mark the Sacrifice appointed. See who bears the awful load. Tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed. Son of Man and Son of God."
It's the song "Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted" by Fernando Ortega and it's talking about the death of Christ on the cross. I heard it for the first time this morning in church and I was slammed with the conviction that I had been believing my sins only affected me. I was the one choosing to do them, I was the one who would pay the consequences and the affliction...or not feel them if I chose. Here, I am reminded of why sin is so great. The burden falls on my Lord. The burden sits on the shoulders of my Savior on a cross giving His last breath so that I may have access to my Abba Father. So that I may rejoice over a wonderful sunset, or slightly charred chicken on a grill. So that I may live my life with the promise of salvation and a hope that never ceases. And in my ignorance I closed my eyes and jaded my heart.
As I stayed on my knees the life I had been choosing washed over me. I just recently stepped into my Masters of Public Health program and took a vow in my heart that I would be a voice of change for those who need it...and then I closed myself off to God. I chose to pursue this dream. I chose to build my own story. I chose to help others with my talents, my time, my hard work. And then my life became about me helping others, not about the Lord intervening. I felt the wall that I had been slowly building around my heart. I felt the severed feelings and the suppressed intimacy I had with the Holy Spirit because I had chosen my dream that I would make happen.
My life is meant to be spent everyday fighting for those in desperation. And I told God, wait until I finish my Masters. My life is meant to be spent standing in the gap. And I told God, wait until I gather the materials for a bridge. My life is meant to be saturated with the Holy Spirit. And I told God, wait until I'm done having fun. If I cannot walk through the process of preparation with the Lord's call to Freedom in my heart, who is to say I will dive into my career with the mentality? If right now, right here in comfortable Colorado I do not choose to fight for other's freedom, where in my dream will it fit in?
I was stricken with grief. Not that I had broken the "good Christian code", but that I had cashed God's Masterpiece in for a shoddy knock-off riddled with sin. I cannot be a part of the Divine Story of chains breaking and voices lifting in worship and gratitude if I choose to live my life for my goals, my fun, my resume, and my adventure. I can choose my life of meaningless conversations and tasks on a To-Do list or I can choose a life of deep, fierce, and urgent purpose and freedom. I would be a fool, and have been, to believe that the two lives can coexist. I want to see miracles happen and to see God work in the present moment. I want to be in the middle of what He is up to. So, with a contrite heart, I say, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner" and with a heart full of the Holy Spirit, I say, "Use me in this world of waiting."