Sunday, 28 October 2012

Binding the Sacrifice

God is the Lord, who has showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you: you are my God, I will exalt you. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures forever. (Psalms 118:27)
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit... The first man is of the earth, made of dust: the second man is the Lord from heaven... And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly...
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47-49, 53-55) 
Love can drink bitterness and not die. Self can't do that. It will writhe in agony for days or weeks, but bitterness will surely kill it in the end. God's mercy endures forever. Love never dies. I will step out on this, rest all the weight of my heavy heart on it: death is swallowed up.

Bind this sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar. My heart (and that long-clawed self within it) kick and bite and scratch and resist the bitterness, but I will have Love. I will drink the bitterness of another's sin. I will bear the hurt and not pass it on. I will hold it close and not turn it to anger or hatred or something that gives me more power. I will let myself be humbled and made foolish. I will wait. I will hold myself still. I will entrust myself to Him who judges righteously.

"You can't do it!" calls the Enemy. "You're too weak. You will break down in the end. Or you will do this wrong and it will destroy you. Give up now!"
The power of his words lies in their half-truth. I am too weak. And bitterness drunk wrong, not in love, is an acid that seeps and burns the beauty and the strength out of life. But that is only half the truth. This battle is not mine to fight. I am still a child in this, just learning to wield weapons like Love against the terrible power of hatred and selfishness. The Teacher is near, and he has brought me here. He will fight for me.

I am afraid. The death of self is no easy thing. It is messy and painful. But faith is made of this, being afraid and walking forward anyway, and when self dies, Love will live! I want to know what that is like, and I want that knowledge to shape me and make me into more than my tired, confused self. I want to live deep and warm and rich and strong and beautiful and free.

His mercy endures forever. I believe it.

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