In my last post, I explored some alternatives ways of looking at the reason Jesus died to views that say God is out to get you, out to get a pound of your flesh. I didn’t mention that another way of saying this is, what if Romans 8 is really true when we are told to imagine that if God is for us, none can be against us?
I thought it might be helpful to take a moment and ask — what does God’s grace look like if we believe God is not, nor ever was, out to get us? If we trust that God’s first word — as well as God’s middle and last word — is love and inclusion, not rejection and condemnation?
I’d love to hear from you, if you have come to such a place in your spiritual journey, how it has changed your own perspective. Instead of telling you a direct answer to it myself, I’d like to share a poem with you that reflects my experience & the experience of others I’ve seen be touched by God’s grace.
I hope it blesses you, and is a stepping stone to your own inner healing and peace.
And I’m not just whistling Dixie here.
Your progressive redneck preacher,
Like trumpets of war I heard rough southern drawl
echoing across the pine wood skin
and a fist hammering the untarnished face
of a podium in a storefront southern church.
“Are you saved brother?” he cries,
“The altar is open. Come on down,
we have room for more”.
I remember hearing that cry
amidst thirty verses of “Just as I Am”
feeling my heart pulled like metal scrap to lodestone
though to me it was already clear
Jesus I knew
and Jesus knew me.
Yet I found myself
like glass upon pavement
now adrift on rainbowed pool of oil,
beautifully tragic beyond all cleansing,
by that preacher’s siren song.
That was not the day I gazed deep
beneath what others saw,
plunging beneath the waters
salty with tears
and cold with fears
that lay beneath
the splintered mirror
of my soul.
It came far later
amidst momma’s scattered boxes,
crates of jewels and receipts
after her manic shopping sprees
revealing my content, as well as their own–
my memories of hiding
little and alone
from the rising tide
her waves of emotion brought
the feeling of hands covering my ears
from shouts that rose
like the rhythmic shaking
of military bombs on Fort Bragg streets
when daddy lifted cups of “special punch”
to his not quite ever parched lips.
That salty wetness
rising from my own tears
was my baptism
which cold and crisp
against my skin
woke me anew.
In that moment I knew myself,
and began a long journey to wholeness.
His echoing shouts of salvation,
Gospel truth be known,
now taste like ash on my tongue.
His calls causing me to recoil
carrying still with them
the lingering smells of brimstone
hanging like a sulfurous cloud
calling me to my imminent end.
I find instead
beneath the wreckage in my soul
piling high as some abandoned lighthouse
rising just like those paint brushes, glue sticks, and cut fabric
borne of her creative projects dropped mid-stroke
and get rich quick schemes gone wrong.
Beneath an edifice that feels as high as the long-leaf pine,
a sparkling treasure as yet unseen
more precious than the fabled gold
I am told
pirates left hidden off Carolina coast.
Shining like such
long-lost piles of coins
upon Ocracoke or Hatteras beach
lit by summer sun on Atlantic waves
I find him,
radiant and shining —
a baby boy
somehow untarnished amidst the pain,
unbroken as when he emerged
aglow with the Spirit’s bright fire,
Her original blessing still upon him
like dew resting on the cool grass
of Appalachian hillside in spring.
That plunge beneath
one fateful April morn
led me to this fated find
the treasure of myself
not shattered beyond all fixing
like he with thunderous voice proclaimed
myself as I was before being broken,
as when Spirit breathed me forth
glistening with the starry hues
of divine essence
my only swaddling clothes
floating into daylight from Her
like some glistening bubble lifted on wind
from sudsy tub.
So, keep your words of salvation, sister.
I’ll go with recovery anyday,
recovering who I am
and have always been
in my Maker’s eye
as I learn
to make true the maxim
that “the eye with which I see Godde
is the eye with which Godde seems me”