how faint a whisper

glimpses of God in a heaven-crammed earth

attentiveness (a Holy Week prayer)

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It’s Holy Week. I want to pay attention.

If all of Lent is a time to enter into the sufferings of Christ, to attempt to understand just the tiniest fraction of what He lost and what He sacrificed and what He carried, then Holy Week takes this entering in to another level, because we know some of these stories. We know some of what He did this week. We know how it started, with the triumphal entry worthy of a King, and we know that just 5 days later, those same adoring crowds were calling for His death.

5 days. I wake up and get dressed and go to work and eat and talk and drive and lie down again and 5 days can pass without hardly a thought. How can an entire city, a worldview, a belief, change so unbelievably quickly? Exaltation and hope to hatred and comtempt in 5 days. A blink of an eye.

On second thought, maybe it is not so surprising after all. How often has my entire posture toward the Lord changed in a matter of minutes, with one unwelcome circumstance, one unfulfilled desire, one unkind word? How often is my heart’s focus toward the Lord based entirely on how I feel about what is happening around and inside me? As often as that is true, I am only one step away from praise becoming contempt. Oh Lord, protect me.

How His heart must have broken. Not only for the suffering which He knew was coming, but because even as those crowds praised Him on that entry into Jerusalem, He saw straight through to their fickle hearts. He saw the “crucify Him!” already forming in their throats. How quickly they were disillusioned. How quickly they ceased to believe, for they carried the wrong expectations. Their love and adoration of Christ was based on Him fulfilling a specific role in a specific way, and they were so blinded by it that when He came with the fullness of who He was…

the image of the invisible God
full beauty
love defined
grace extended
hope fulfilled
justice (true justice) founded
Messiah. Saviour.

…they couldn’t see His true character beyond who they wished Him to be. Because He did not come in their created image, they ceased to see. Because He did not come proclaiming their agenda, they ceased to hear, and turned away into hate and destruction.

It can never be about who I desire Christ to be for me, or I will crucify my Lord with the hatred of the disappointment of my own desires.

It can never be about what I desire Christ to do for me, or I will be unable to see what He has already done – darkness to light. Death to life. Old man to new man. Fear to peace. Despair to hope. Alienation to fellowship. In creating a God of my own design, I will be blind to who He is truly is – for no man’s end, but for His Father’s will. Defined by no man’s opinion, but by His oneness with the Father’s love. Eternal God, unchanging.

The most devout of the Jewish people – those who spent their whole lives studying the coming of the Messiah, and waiting with anticipation – they missed Him. The most holy, the most knowledgeable, they missed Him. But a gentile woman who fell at His feet for her daughter, a Centurion soldier, fishermen, tax collectors, a prostitute: they saw. They were nothing special, they were merely paying attention, an attentiveness based not in their own wisdom, but in their brokenness. Not out of their righteousness, but out of their need.

How often have I been the Pharisee? In my desire and disappointment, or in my worldly wisdom, I have missed You. Or even turned against You, without seeing and understanding that You bend Yourself to no man, yet You allowed Yourself to be broken for all. We accept You on Your terms, not ours. We accept You in our needs, not for their fulfillment. We accept You in Your fullness, not in our meager created shadow. You say, “See, I have become nothing for you. Become nothing for me.”

I want to pay attention to my brokenness. Pay attention to my need. Pay attention to my nothingness. And these do require great attentiveness to see, beyond the consuming distractions of my desire, my self-glorification, and my pride.

I have experienced no loss, no suffering, no sacrifice, no betrayal that cut as deep as these 5 days must have. And far worse, I have been the Pharisee to You. I have been the crowds. This week, help me to remember. Help me to not miss who you are. Help me to pay attention.

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