A SONG FROM CALVARY
From the time I was a young girl and my parents brought me to my first charismatic church service, I have known that I was in love with Jesus. I listened to a congregation of men, women and young people raise their collective voices, singing the old chorus, “I Exalt Thee,” and I couldn’t choke back the tears. I had grown up in a church family that had taught me so much truth. We had absorbed the scriptures and enough theology to weigh down even the most formidable mind. And yet, at twelve years old, I knew that all this talk and all of these letters and stories were leading my heart to a place that was far beyond my natural comprehension.
As the years progressed and I wrestled with the yearning of my flesh to find the fastest way to peace, and the cry of my spirit for a deeper connection with my Beloved, a thin but powerful chord drew me ever closer to Him. Years of fumbling through adolescence and misguided religious advice led me to the dawning realization that, if I could have only one thing (as though God were a genie and I had a wish to make), I would choose him. It wasn’t a choice made out of piety or fear, it was a deeper longing that I couldn’t really comprehend. None of my friends understood it or agreed. Even Christian friends, when I asked them, what was the one thing they would have from God, would come up with varying wishes, from wealth to healing and the discovery of a mate, or the ability to travel the world.
I didn’t understand why, at only nineteen years old, I found myself completely desperate to know him, touch him, see him; to hear his voice. I felt like it was consuming me from the inside and taking over all logic and other sense of purpose. It caused me to abandon my academic plans, waste my scholarly potential, and fly instead into Honduras with a helter-skelter group of God-seekers. I was by no means perfect, and in fact made countless heartbreaking choices as I fumbled along the path into his arms.
Over time, I realized that this deep desire I had for him was not only matched but surpassed by the furious longing that he had for me. In fact, I came to know that I was not actually chasing after God, but that I was already in his arms, and that he had entered my being, permeating my heart, soul, mind, and life all along. The race I ran and the mountain I climbed, he climbed along side me, and the path I had chosen was the one he had chosen first for me. His will was married to mine.
A few weeks ago, I sat in the Garden of Gethsemane with some friends, amongst the two-thousand year old olive trees. One of my friends reflected on Jesus’ time there, and on the agony he suffered at Calvary. He talked about the false idea, which has permeated the minds of the evangelical church, that the Father turned his back on the son in that moment. That somehow God separated himself from himself, which is of course preposterous.
What Jesus experienced here was the effect of shame on all of us. It sticks to us like glue and thickens its nasty cloud around our eyes and ears so that we can no longer see or hear our creator. It was, after all, not sin that separated Adam and Eve from the father, but the shame.
It struck me in that moment, that as Jesus hung bloodied and choking on the Roman cross, that he called out the words from a song that David had written thousands of years prior: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I was breathless, not only at the cutting truth that shame made it impossible for him to perceive the Father’s constant nearness, but also that he was so connected to one of us mortal humans (David) and knew his songs and poems so well, that he recited one with one of his final breaths.
My journey in Israel led me to several deep revelations and this was probably one of the greatest. It was something I had always known but the roots of which buried themselves considerably deeper into the soil of my spirit: As much as I have longed for him and ached for intimacy with him, He has longed for me even more. The connection he has with me already is incomprehensible. He has known me since before my conception and he has thought of me every second of my life. He is intimately and infinitely tied to me.
At the cross of Calvary, in the moment in time that would change all of history for all mankind and for all of time—at that very central and pivotal moment, the creator of the universe, who has unlimited forms of expression at his disposal, recited a verse written by one of us.
I have often been overwhelmed when I have sat at my piano and tried to voice the passion that seems too big for words and too supernatural for me to grasp, and to somehow confine to human expression. Every now and then, I sense that he is there, leaning on my piano toward me. His eyes are closed and he is breathing in the fumbled notes and incomplete thoughts of my song. It confounds me and leaves me breathless at the very idea that, for as much as we have sought him and filled thousands of years with efforts to understand him and write about him, and to please him—that he, quite possibly, might be moved. By me. And by you.