March 28, 2013

I'll Stand

 So while we're on the topic of nightmares (I know, we're not really, but I needed a segue (pronounced "seg-way" for those of you like me who had no idea it was spelled that way) - let me tell you of another nightmare I have. It's forever reoccurring - ruining my nights with a "surprise it's me again" appearance. We're coming up on year four of this beauty, and the setting is something like this:

  Strange that there's a video? Not really. I worked there. Well, I worked for their secondary program in Canada. We spent the summer on an island in the middle of a lake in the middle of nowhere with no electricity or running water. Sometimes I feel as though my only saving grace is that I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I took the job. And sometimes I wander if I'm still no less guilty than Judas.

  As a worker there were times when I felt just as betrayed and kidnapped as the kids. But the reality is I could have left - and I almost did. I so disagreed with their methods but was torn knowing even if I left, the kids' situation wouldn't get better. So I stayed - rendering myself as guilty as all the other staff.

  The stories I could tell are both heartwarming and horrific. It was the best summer of my life, and yet it was such a literal nightmare that I was convinced I was going die before the summer ended. Time after time I would take the place of a kid's punishment and feel like I was staring out of the eyes of Christ - the One who gave it all. And time after time I would stand by as hurting kids were mistreated and abused and feel as though I was staring out of the eyes of Peter - who did nothing.

  My comprehension of God's love and Christ's sacrifice exploded outside of any boundary I had ever known. I gave everything there was in me to give and more, and at times it felt heroic. But I gave all my strength to small battles when there was a war raging. And no small victory of mine ever changed the plight of the oppressed. With good intentions I set out to win hearts for God and serve Him with all my might, in hindsight I wonder and fear that I was simply a kind guard at Auschwitz.

  Why the remembrance? Because it's the week we remember Christ's death and resurrection. And that summer so very clearly gave me the understanding of both the love and mercy with which Christ gave himself up and the heavy guilt of Judas and Peter.  I find myself grasping for the cross and God's forgiveness when I think back to that summer - I stand guilty, hands red with the blood of bleeding hearts and souls. Forgiveness seems too much to ask, so undeserved. And graciously, God places other memories of that summer in front of me. Memories of understanding His limitless love, memories of abundant forgiveness for repeated offenses, memories of dissolved power struggles because an undeserving person took the punishment. And then........... I know. I know that God's love covers a multitude of sins. And I couldn't be more grateful.

  So with that I celebrate Easter. I celebrate all that it means to a lost world and to generations of lost people.  Sunday I'll stand as guilty as anyone, perhaps guiltier than all, but I'll stand because I can. Because Christ intervened when He didn't have to. He followed God's plan to dissolve all power struggles and simply welcome His children back home.

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