That First Tranquil Moment

THERE’S something ghostly about that first tranquil moment when my eyelids open and I slowly return from my sleep.

For those first few seconds, it almost feels like another realm.

Where everything feels different.  Where time feels so much slower.  Almost frozen.

It is the time when I finally remember that God is the purveyor of my every breath and that at any moment, He will blow my dancing flame into smoke, when He’s decided the time of my departure has come.

I feel so enamored with the thought that I weep, asking Him, imploring Him to extinguish my fire and allow my weary soul to soar to His Paradise, as the embers of my lifetime spark and pop and fade into the darkness of morning.

All of my worries suddenly feel so foolish and illogical.  My gaze is so fixed upon the King of Kings and His kingdom, the very thought of corrupt politicians dueling to preside over a corrupt nation is entirely irrelevant to me.   Let America flourish.   Let it burn to the ground.  I don’t care.  Give me heaven.  For as long as I’m in this world, I will forever be a vagabond, journeying to my home where my citizenship lies.

Who am I, you ask?   No, I’m not a Democrat.  Well, no, I’m not a Republican either.  I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.  That’s all I care to claim.  That’s all I ever want to be in this world.

What a place this is.  Where my adversity seems as nothing.  Where even my most malicious antagonists seem so small and harmless, now that I’ve had the mind to look high enough to notice the Lover of my soul looming far above them.

Where the impossible no longer feels impossible and I see things as they truly are.

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Where piercing sorrows return to infest my sick heart like ravenous parasites.  My painful past.  How utterly worthless they made me feel.  All the hellish things they said of me.  All the hellish things they did to me.  All the gallons of tears they made me cry.  It is enough to fill the ocean.  But in this moment, a strange peace envelopes me as I finally understand that they have been taken far away from me.  They can hurt me no more.

Unless I inject myself with their venom anew.

Where I see myself standing in the cathedral proclaiming the excellencies.

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Where I see myself sitting with the impoverished.  With the lonely-hearted.  With the drunkards.  With the whores.  With the ones who never knew His love before.  And the child-like wonder that glows in their eyes as they hear the most beautiful sound upon the earth coming from my lips.

Of all lips.  Of all people.  He used this nervous, stammering mouth.  He put this treasure within this mess.  He put this torch in my hand that bears the fingerprints of Moses and David and Jeremiah and Paul.

Where I see us sitting at a table in South America as a young boy begs for our breakfast.  And he gives every crumb to his starving sister who sits in a nap sack on his back.

I can see his face.  I can see her face as she sluggishly eats our half-eaten food.  And it fills my eyes with tears.

I can see the emptiness in her eyes as she looks up at me.  I can feel her tiny, dirty hand as she clasps it in mine and we walk to her mother in an alley somewhere.

Where I see a college student being baptized in a bathtub in Communist China.  One that will go on to become a greater herald than I will ever be.

I remember the sadness in his eyes when I first met him.  I can see the triumph in them now.

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Where I see the scarlet woman in a strangers house on her hands and knees, washing the dirty feet of God’s Lamb with the liquid of her broken heart.  She’s so heartbroken over her sins, she even kisses His feet in repentance.  The very feet that soon will be pierced with nails.

My greatest desire is to have a heart like hers, my heroine in the faith.  What love.  What passionate worship.  What beautiful repentance.

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Where I see the daughters of God violently wail over Tabitha’s body, their tears splashing down upon the garments she had made for them when they hadn’t the money.  Even in my wildest imagination, I cannot envision the fear and the joy that was theirs when her flame was rekindled and she entered their presence as before.

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Where I see the guilty adulteress, anticipating a terrible death, slowly open her eyes to see the face of God’s Christ as the rocks of her accusers hit the ground.

There is so much love in His eyes.  There is so much love in His voice – “Woman, where are they?  Is there no one to condemn you?  Go.  And sin no more.”

There is so much love in His voice for me as He silences my accuser day and night.

Where I see Him loudly weeping in the meadow, so bitterly heartbroken as they mourned for his friend Lazarus.

As His wailing loudly echoes into the distance, I hear a faint voice from somewhere in the crowd marveling.  “See how He loved him!”

Where I see them take His limp body down from the Cross and put His bludgeoned remains in a tomb that wasn’t even His own.

The angels marvel from heaven.  “See how He loves them!”

Where I see the disciples sitting paralyzed with depression in the darkened quiet as nearby, the light within the tomb of their Rabbi slowly fades into utter darkness when the stone rolls fully in place.

While all of hell erupts in demonic exultation.

Where I see myself treading Him under my feet and crucifying Him anew by my wicked rebellion.

While all of hell erupts in demonic exultation.

And the Author of Salvation loudly weeps as the angels marvel.  “See how He loves him!”

Where I awaken to the soothing reality that yesterday and all of its myriads of troubles and failures is over.  And that God has created a new day with vast opportunities to show everyone in my sight that He is the light of the world.

Where I see the stone rolled away early in the morning.  Where I see the grave cloths folded.  Where I see Peter running to the tomb and great fear and joy seizing them.

Where I see my brother and I walking to the baptistery.

I can still hear the tender cadence of his voice.  “I can hear the angels rejoicing!  …David…do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?  Do you believe He defeated Satan…?   …I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of His Spirit..”

There’s just something about that moment when I first awake and I slowly drift out of sleep.

It only lasts a few seconds.  But it’s so unspeakably beautiful.  As I see things as clearly as I wish I always could.  Where I gain the desire to live as passionately and as fearlessly as I was created to live.

Life is happening every second of the day.  The memories and events and conversations and circumstances that awaken me like flash bulbs going off in the night.

Reminding me the world really is passing away.

Until one marvelous day.  When I open my eyes and actually am in a different realm.

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