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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Do You Have to Ask?


This imaginative scene grew in my mind a several years ago. I still revisit the imagery during my time in prayer. As you read this, I hope you will find yourself better comprehending the great love of Jesus for you.  This essay also appears in my third book, Learning to Lean.
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If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:17-19)

Sometimes when I meditate on the crucifix suspended on the wall opposite my chair, my mind transports me to the place and time of my Lord's last hours.

It happened one morning as I fingered a Rosary bead and thought about what Catholics call a "Mystery of the Rosary" -- the flogging of Jesus.

As I let the image form in my mind of Christ standing at the whipping post, His hands tied above His head, I suddenly saw myself standing at that very post -- but now it was my hands tied above my head. My back was laid bare. My life was about to end.

I turned my head and saw the Roman soldier standing a few feet away -- although I knew somehow it was actually Satan in the form of the soldier. He held the whip -- strands of leather tied at the handle, each strand studded with chips of bone and rock. He readied himself to strike my back, to tear at me without mercy.

I turned away and winced in anticipation of the blow.

But it never came.

Instead, I sensed a presence move suddenly between me and the whip. The lash tore through the air. A visceral groan rose behind me. And Satan growled, "Get away from him. His sins make him my property. He belongs to me!"

The voice behind me answered quietly, but with palpable authority, "No, he doesn't. He belongs to me. I purchase him with my blood."

"Get away," Satan hissed. A moment later the lash fell again, striking with a fury that terrified me. But the presence moved closer -- so close I felt the warmth of his body. He wrapped his arms around me, protecting me from the whip that fell again and again.

And again.

I heard each lash fall. I felt his body shudder with each blow. His blood splattered across the back of my neck and dripped from his shoulder onto mine.

Still tied to the post, I turned to see who it was protecting me. And when I saw Him, when I knew who it was taking my place, I could do nothing else but ask, "Lord, why are you doing this for me?"

He looked into my eyes, deeply into my eyes, and whispered, "Do you have to ask?"

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