Sunday service…check. Morning devotional…check. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t covet…check, check, check. Good enough. Just…good enough.
I listened—not for the first time—to a couple who’d stopped speaking to one another with any amount of respect, trust, or tenderness. “Why bother?” they wondered aloud, without shame. “I’m tired of talking,” he told me. She treated me to an eye roll. “It’s just as well. I already know what he’s going to say.”
They’re not mean or mad. They’re worse. They’re bored. Nobody’s yelling. This is not a fight. It’s a giving up and a giving in. It’s love seeping out of them, slowly but surely.
Mine was the only heart in the room breaking over this. I want to shake them, wake them up and make them remember how they used to be. How could they forget?
How could they? How could you?
God’s voice is inside me, smoldering and familiar, like a first crush reaching across decades with a, “Hey girl. How ya been?” Then suddenly, the truth is inside me too.
Sunday service…check. Morning devotional…check. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t covet…check, check, check. Good enough, Michelle. Just…good enough.
When did the notion that He crossed an eternity to be with me stop making an impression on me? When did I decide that holding hands with The Divine—belonging to and with The Creator of the universe—was not a gift, but just a fact, a thing to be known and accepted more than celebrated.
When did I get bored? Does this ring a dull bell in anyone? Does anyone other than me know what it feels like to just go through the motions, check boxes, do the right things, look just holy enough to keep your Jesus cred, but live the life of a walking desert?
It doesn’t happen all at once or suddenly. Just a little at a time. He doesn’t stop talking, but when we think we’ve got Him figured out, we listen less, don’t we?
He didn’t stop giving, but when His generosity mixes with the dust of our humanity, we become less grateful and more entitled.
Our wonder gives way to an arrogance that stops coming to Him with our desires if we think we’re going to have to hear Him say “wait” or “no” or “not yet” just one more time. And soon, the love shed abroad in our soft hearts, which once fell like refreshing rain, becomes noise on a metal roof, striking but not soaking in.
How many times does He really need to hear me say He’s awesome? How long must I raise my hands to satisfy Him of His praiseworthiness?
Then I feel it. His is the only heart in the room breaking over this. He wants to shake me, wake me up and make me remember how we used to be.
He doesn’t need to hear that He’s awesome. I need to say it. He doesn’t need to be satisfied that He’s worthy of praise. I need to remember. How could I forget?
What if we went back, to the way we were…
Meet me in my bones.
Meet me in my flesh.
Fill my eyes and ears with You
Thump-thump my hollow chest.
Meet me in my breath
In the billow of my lungs.
Meet me in my veins,
Those red, pulsing strands You strung.
Meet me, then
Rush through me,
Only You knew in me.
The day You wittily knitted
skin to sinew in me,
Then sent my call before my shout
While You colored my hairs and counted them
Sighted my eyes and mounted them
The into-me-deep and drawn-out of me
The quiet weep and core doubt of me
Belong to You and long for You.
And You love all of me
You love all of me
Both flight and fall of me
I see it now
You are my life from sole to brow
Meet me in my Me
So I can live.
Meet me in my fear
In my insecurity
I’m weary Lord of hiding
The hopeless side of me
Renew my strength
Or let me fail.
Answer my pleas
Or let me wail.
I don’t care anymore.
I’m so tired.
I’m not wired
To be my own hero.
Hear O Israel, Your God is One
When did I stop inclining?
When did I settle for light that stopped shining?
How could I abandon our wine and our wafers?
Why did I believe going my way was safer?
I’m so tired of trying
Now I’m crying
Meet me in my tears
It’s been too many years of trying
To dry them
Asking You, “Why tears?
Today, I wonder
Why not tears?
And why not now?
Why not let them tumble, all
Like some great salty waterfall
Making their way into Your waiting hand
In the only place that really matters.
Suppose I follow
(More stumble than tumble)
To humbling depths
To what I have left
I see it now
You hold my What, my Why, my How
Meet me in my hidden cracks,
The splitting hairs,
The sloth and slack.
Meet me there with mixing hands, deft fixing hands,
Adding secret this-es and thats,
Good feeding hands, strong kneading hands
I need those hands
To right where I have messed it up
And dressed it up
A pretty lie
a pretty, tired, broken hero
In need of a Savior
Wave Your hands over these dry bones
And make them live again
Kiss my hardened spirit home and make it give again
Create fat where famine has too long been my feast
The least my meager only offering…
Meet me in my Me,
So We can live…
Joyfully ever after.
Are you bored? Has your heart hardened over time? Have you forgotten the one who took dust in His hands, breathed a kiss into it and made you for His very own? He has not forgotten you.
This piece was originally presented live at Imago Dei’s Ash Wednesday service on March 6th, 2019.
Michelle Jones is Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Imago Dei.