Monday, April 21, 2014

When the nails still pierce your heart after Easter

Most afternoons if you drive by my house you'll find me perched in my yellow, orange, and blue striped beach chair watching Noah and Eli scooter circles around our blacktop driveway, little Jude tracing their trails with his yellow school bus in tow just trying to keep up.

But if there are no boys whizzing by on shiny Razors, no clunkety-clunk of wheels turning fast over pitted pavement, then you will probably find us in the backyard. Digging.

Ride fast or dig deep. Those seem to be the two forces that drive my boys.

One afternoon a couple weeks ago it was a backyard kind of day. White puffy clouds popped against a brilliant blue sky, the bright sun warming us against the cool early April air.

The boys abandoned their favorite digging spot in the flower beds that hug the back porch steps in search of new treasure. They scoured the landscape and finally settled on a patch of untouched territory—the far side yard. Empty save for a winding path of mismatched stepping stones and a mishmash stash of building materials for the vegetable garden we intend to plant, some day.  

They plunked down their little buns and array of treasure-hunting tools and got to work. Digging deep and on a serious search. Looking for shiny rocks that could be diamonds.  Pursuing petrified wood that could be dinosaur relics. 

But instead of sparkly stones or ancient bones, my excavating boys uncovered rusty nails.

One after another.

Treacherous and sharp.

I put the first one up on the wooden fence ledge, just to keep it out of little arms' reach. But then Noah found another nail. And another screw. "I got one more, Mama," Eli called out in delight.

Soon I had a collection of dangerous daggers, a small parade of pointed decay.

The boys kept digging, driven by curiosity for the next discovery.

But I didn't feel very adventurous anymore. Because this backyard game suddenly reminded me of real life pain. 

Each freshly unearthed nail on the fence pressed my heart with the reminder of each freshly surfaced sin I've been dealing with. 

I'm in one of those seasons. 
Have you ever been there? 

One of those seasons where my relationship with God is growing along with my desire to live more like Christ, yet the more I get to know Jesus, the more I see how far from being like Him I really am. 

I desire to be humble. 
Yet, I'm more aware of my pride.
I desire to be like a servant.
Yet, I'm faced with my selfishness.
I desire to be full of mercy, breathing grace. 
Yet, I'm choking on my judgement.
I desire to be gentle.
Yet, I can not handle my anger.

It's painful.

Jesus has been my Savior for more than 25 years. I've walked with Him as my Shepherd for almost 15. I thought I had let the Great Redeemer reign in all areas of my life.

But apparently there's still some untouched territory here, too.
Apparently following Jesus means sin-scorched nails are an ongoing part of the story.

Last Friday took me back to the most important day in The Story. 

It was Good Friday. I stood in church praising God through age-old hymns about His ultimate sacrifice, the crucified Son-Christ.  Jesus' pain was payment for the world's sins. Payment for mine. Without that bloody execution there would be no Good News. Just news.

With hands held high in praise I thought about my rusty nails on the fence. The rusted, rotted, rooted in unrighteousness sins I struggle with. I pictured Jesus hanging between robbers, allowing each one of my nails to be driven into his hands and feet. 

He died for the world. But He would have died just for one. My nails alone enough to kill him on that cross.

But He didn't stay dead.  No, death can't conquer Christ! His work of paying the penalty of sin was finished. But the work of redeeming the world had just begun. 

Hallelujah to the Risen King!

Hallelujah that Resurrection Sunday came three days later and new life for Christ means new life for me!

This world is still fallen. I still fall and fail. But my failures have been overcome. Resurrection on Easter Sunday means hope for righteousness the other 364 days of the year, every year until Christ returns or takes me home.

I don't have to be perfect. 
I'm never going to be perfect. 

Rust-covered nails will get buried now and then in the back corners of my heart. But I can give thanks for the work of uncovering them. I can give thanks for the work of discovering that I need Jesus every day. Give thanks that the Holy God loves me enough not to leave me as I am but to renew me day by day for my good and His glory.

High on a hill Christ hung on a cross and took nails for the glory of God.

Yes, glory through rust-covered nails is possible. Because the nails didn't stay there.


Mindy Rogers said...

gosh. totally piercing Becky. I'm always equally encouraged/discouraged by growing closer to god only to find a new area I am so horribly unlike Him. All is grace <3

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Becky,

Nice to see you again. I'm hopping over from Ann's link up to count gifts with you. Thanks for this poignant analogy of the dangerous nails we all tend to leave buried or forget are there, until the Holy Spirit's tender prodding brings them to the surface. Aiye, me too. I'm thankful that he says he is still at work in us, and that he is tender and loving with us.

Have a great week,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer @ said...

What a poignant reminder for any of us who are dealing with sharp and painful places this season. This is beautiful. I'm so delighted that you've shared it with us at #TellHisStory, Becky.