There comes a point when you’ve met people and allowed yourself to spend time with them and you wonder if your relationship with them is genuine or if it’s just formed out of necessity and common likes and dislikes. You don’t think about this consciously, I don’t think, at least not often. But last night, something really cool happened 🙂
I finally moved into my new dorm yesterday morning. The only thing was I couldn’t get my new key until five o’clock in the afternoon. I didn’t realize this until I found myself locked out of my dorm, holding the key to my previous dorm. Other than that, there were few problems throughout the day.
Last night was Bible Study at Sam and Maria’s house. While I would usually go over early to help Maria get dinner ready and such, I couldn’t due to the technicalities of moving down the hall from one dorm room to the other. Regardless, I got to Maria’s house later than usual but on time nonetheless. On the way there, during my subway ride, I was reading The Return of the King. I came across this monologue of Gandalf’s and was enraptured:
“He fell silent and sighed. “Well, no need to brood on what tomorrow may bring. For one thing, tomorrow will be certain to bring worse than today, for many days to come. And there is nothing more that I can do to help it. The board is set, and the pieces are moving. One piece that I greatly desire to find is Faramir, now the heir of Denethor. I do not think that he is in the City; but I have had no time to gather news. I must go, Pippin. I must go to this lords’ council and learn what I can. But the Enemy has the move, and he is about to open his full game. And pawns are likely to see as much of it as any, Peregrin son of Paladin, soldier of Gondor. Sharpen your blade!”
Even if you’re not a Lord of the Rings person, you can find, if you’re willing to see it, the depth and moving readiness that exists in the lines of this passage. Gandalf starts off by stating a statement of truth that we as humans so often forget. “No need to brood on what tomorrow may bring…there is nothing more that I can do to help it.” Cool 🙂 Considering Tolkien’s friendship with C.S. Lewis and their mutual associations with the literary group the Inklings, it doesn’t surprise me that many of Tolkien’s analogies and symbolism, including the simple truth stated by wise men and wizards alike often resemble biblical truths along with symbolism and analogous settings similar to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. I’m getting goosebumps just writing about this.
Okay, nerd moment over.
Anyway, I arrived at Maria and Sam’s and did dishes while talking to Maria and eventually Adham and Rebecca. We had sesame noodles with hot sauce. Turns out I really like spicy things and I have a very high tolerance for them. I never wanted to eat spicy stuff because one time I ordered chili cheese fries at Longhorn Steakhouse and ate a piece of jalapeno pepper and my face became beat red and my mouth was on fire. But I had hot sauce on my noodles.
That’s when Rochelle (who had arrived later) and I were told about Da Bomb. Apparently, Sam had this bottle of hot sauce that was really hot (1,500,000 units on the Scoville). He challenged us. Because we’re adventurous and because Adham and Sam were telling stories of how hot it was and how it had made them sweat and hurt and drink half a gallon of milk and what not, we accepted the challenge. Sam brought out a gallon of milk and set cups of it in front of us. He opened the tiny jar of hot sauce and put some on a carrot for each of us. Clara and Adham brought out their phones to video tape our reactions. Everyone counted down from three and we ate our carrots.
While it was hot, it didn’t make me sweat or cry or need to drink milk. In fact, I kind of liked it 🙂 Adham was really mad that neither of us reacted to it. I thought it was funny 🙂
We moseyed into the living room and began discussing Galatians. What ensued after we began our discussion was something I’ve never experienced before. While our studies have been fruitful as far as fellowship is concerned, I haven’t gotten a ton of biblical growth out of it, and while I know that sounds harsh, it’s somewhat true. What caused such a, well, whatever it was, was this:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming the curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13, ESV.
This reminded me of the passage that says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This resemblance lies not in the content or even the location, but in the difficult of conceptualization: what does it mean, “I have been crucified with Christ?” What does it mean, “Christ became the curse for us?”
First of all, let’s define our terms. “Curse,” is not referring to sin or the earthly consequences of sin. “Curse” is referring to total separation from God. When Adam and Eve sinned, they could no longer have fellowship with God the way they had in the Garden of Eden. Even those in the Old Testament who did have interaction with God had no idea what kind of fellowship they were missing out on. The curse of separation was what existed between humanity and God because of humanity’s sin. When Jesus came to earth to reconcile us to God, we had no idea what kind of sacrifice He was making. Edward mentioned, while we were discussing this, when Jesus was praying to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew He was going to “become the curse…” In other words, Jesus was going to be completely cut off and separated from His father, all because of us. While He was praying, His humanity was pleading “God, please let there be another way,” not a way to avoid the pain of being crucified, not a way to avoid reconciling us to God, but a way to stayed connected to God. But then, Jesus’ divinity rose up above His humanity and said, “If it cannot pass from me, then let Your will be done.”
Oh my gosh! Do you get it?? Sam explained it in fatherly terms; it would be like Sam having to turn his back on his little girls because of the actions of a third party. We are the third party. Jesus was willing to be separated from the One He loves most in order to save us. And you know, because God is an relational God, a feeling God, that when all of our sins were borne on Jesus’ shoulders, God ached when He had to cut Himself off from His only son, even though it was only a temporary separation.
Jesus. Became. The Curse. For us.
Once He did that, there was no longer a wall between us and God. It was just God. Jesus Christ became the Curse.
As the group of us sat in the living room, taking this in, the Holy Spirit stirred in my heart and I felt like crying because I got it….I got it. My comprehension is still limited obviously; if I got it completely I wouldn’t be able to function. But this little bit, this small revelation, hit me full force and I took it. And for a moment I felt connected with everyone in the room, I understood that they’re my brothers and sisters, that we’re part of the same family, the same army, the same side.
After this ensued a very long and heated debate concerning something Edward said about sanctification, though there was no malice involved. Basically, Edward said something about sanctification that Dina, Rochelle, and I didn’t agree with and the three of us popcorned our thoughts while he brought out his arguments and then when we were at a sort of impasse of miscommunication, Adham, the assumed mediator, deciphered our problem and explained both sides perfectly. It was awesome.
The debate ended and we all laughed and realized we had been discussing the same thing only from different perspectives. I don’t remember all of the points and arguments of the debate and I won’t even attempt to try and explain them here.
We all paired up and prayed for a long time. Oh! I know this is totally random but you should be used to it by now. I’ve decided to do a Spartan Race. Yep. I’m that insane. When? I have no idea? Can I do it? I think so 🙂 Now that I’m telling you about it my stomach is doing this weirdo-head flip thing…yes, I’m going to do it. I don’t know how, but I’m going to do it.
I’m going to die.
We all ended our prayers and then Bible Study was over….and I wanted pie. Edward knew a place on 7th Ave. and said he’d take me, Jenny, and Clara there. On the walk to the subway I slipped and fell and tripped so many times my face is turning red just thinking about it. On the subway ride there, Edward and I talked about The Abolition of Man, why he doesn’t like Andy Stanley, and my gloves, which are gray with purple bows on them.
When we came out of the station, and Edward pointed to the place, I realized it was the same place Mom, Gracie, and I went to the day they came to take me home for Christmas. Imagine that.
I ordered a piece of apple crumb pie a la mode; Clara ordered a donut, Jenny ordered a slice of cheesecake (which was fantastic), and Edward ordered Earl Grey with cream. We sat and talked and ate for a while until David, Clara’s man, showed up and joined our little party. Edward played music on his iPod and I watched Criminal Minds on the television above the counter. There were only a couple of people in the diner and it was past 11:30pm.
When we were finished, everyone gave me their money and their cards and I went to go pay for everything. Then the lady very kindly told me that they didn’t accept cards, only cash. I didn’t have any cash and I couldn’t remember my pin number, which meant I would have to ask one of my friends to pay for me.
Look, I don’t mind people offering to pay for me; I really don’t have a problem with that…unless it’s a guy, but that’s a different discussion entirely. What I do mind is when I have to ask someone to pay for me. Inside my head I stomped around like a small child and all of my brain people ran around frantically searching through my filing cabinets of creativity to figure out what to do, but they all reported that I had no other choice. I returned to our table and told people the problem. Clara very willingly offered to pay for me, and after much confusion concerning everything but without frustration or annoyance, we finally paid and left the diner. I was so embarrassed.
I had dragged my friends with me to go get pie, the food hadn’t been all that good, and they had to pay for me. I just wanted to cry I felt so bad. But when we were outside, waiting for David and Clara, Edward must’ve seen I was upset. He came up to me and explained that it was no problem; any of them would gladly do anything for me, especially something as ridiculously simple as paying for my food.
“Hunter, we love you.”
And that was the second revelation of the evening. While I knew they liked me and didn’t mind me hanging around, I couldn’t quite tell if things were solid just yet. After all, I’ve only been in their lives for a matter of months. But when Edward told me that, and when I looked at the people standing around me, and when I thought about it later, I believed it. Not because I’m arrogant or because I trust people too quickly; not because I’ve substituted the love of my friends for God’s love; not because I depend on the acceptance of others, but because it was true. At that moment, I realized I had let the impossible happen, and I realized all of the other times in my life where I had let it happen (the Brocks, Grandma Pat, and a number of other people); I let people love me.
For the longest time, because of my testimony, I still struggled with trusting people to love me, and I think a lot of people struggle with that, the same way that, and also with more difficulty than, I do.
When I walked into my dorm an hour later, I was in a daze.
God, what are You doing to me? What are You changing? Why are You doing this?
And though I didn’t hear Him, I knew the answer. God had broken down a very thick barrier by way of His children. He had done what I had refused to let Him do, but He had done it gently. He did it because there are some things He needs me to do that require me to be free from my own fear and paranoia. He did it because it’s His will that I be let out from captivity.
I very quietly walked into my new dorm, because it was now well past midnight and Bree was asleep. I showered quickly, changed into sweat pants and a large T-shirt, and took my Bible Study, my Bible, and my journal upstairs to the large second-floor lounge. My hair was feathery and my mind at rest and I was so comfortable that all I could focus on was God’s word.
The end of yesterday’s study was this: “Out of the overflow of a changed heart the mouth most beautifully speaks. May we voluntarily dethrone every Uzziah and every Jotham in our lives and put them in their rightful places. Only then are we free to see the Lord seated on a throne, high and lifted up, as we journey to our destination.”
And this morning’s, as if God hadn’t drilled it into my heart far enough, said this: “If we are leaders of any kind, we have an even greater responsibility to make liberty in Christ a reality in life. Not only is the quality of our Christian lives at great risk, but also the quality of those lives following us are at risk. As leaders we’re tempted to answer, “But we’re only human too!”
Beth Moore then brought out a verse that deepened the crack in the barrier around my heart:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7, ESV). In other words: The light of God is meant to outshine our human nature, so that when others look at us, all they see is Christ.
I have nothing left to say except this: My God, is an awesome God.