Thursday, 6 March 2008

Bathed in Grace- What Words Cannot Express

It was the most important day of my life. The sun was streaming through the skylights and onto the light pinewood rafters. I gazed up at the light thinking that there was only one thing left to do; Jump. I was only 11 years old, but I looked up into the sunlight and cried out to God.
“I don’t feel like you are real, I don’t know you are real. But I know that I am throwing myself into you. If I fall, I fall. But God I know, by no means of explanation that I won’t. I want to believe in you, I want you to catch me.” So I jumped. I took the preverbal leap of Faith and got “Saved.”
Over the years I was baptized in a frozen lake, witnessed a healing and had visions and dreams that make no sense what so ever. Yet I knew that there was something radically other that had entered my life. My charismatic worldview was the only thing that could explain what had taken hold of me, but it was not one that held up well under scrutiny. It fell apart so easily, and it left me with very little peace.
But this collapse of my worldview does not change what I have seen; it does not change what I have experienced. It just leaves me to find a new explanation. I have been told over and over again that “those silly Charismatic Christians are faking, the gifts of the spirit died with the apostles.” It is no use though; I have seen things, felt things and known things in the depths of my being that do not equate.
So I am going to try and explain the unexplainable. I am going to try to communicate the incommunicable. What Kierkegaard called “Abraham’s silence.”
I do this knowing fully that I will fail, but it is worth alluding to. It is worth writing about even if all that I can offer is a shadow and a scent of that which is Other.
I was once by the side of a pond on a late summer afternoon in New Hampshire. I sat in what I can only call prayer, but I did not speak. I listened but I did not hear anything but the lapping of little waves against the dock. It was as if instead of telling me, God just knew me, and for that brief instant he allowed me to know his fragrance. I knew that I was being allowed into the folds of God’s beautiful Grace. Not because of words, or thoughts or beliefs but because I gave in to the spirit of God. I was at the foot of the Cross and blood flowed onto my head. I was at the table with Jesus and wine flowed over my hands. I was on the shore of a small pond and wind swept past my face. It was the presence of God, in every raw, frightful and soothing way. I was covered in Christ’s blood so that I could sit in the fire around me and not burn, but rather bathe.
It is so inadequate to call it a feeling. I was not feeling God like I feel joy or sorrow. I was feeling God like one feels the rip tides pull them under the sea. It was a fall into chaos and yet far more a fall into a fierce and unallocated peace.
In my life there have been moments of weakness, pain, desire and longing that are too great for my mind to quantify. They are too great to overcome, just as sin is far to great for me to overcome. When the whole of my created being cries out to God to be cleansed I sit and wait. When I take the Eucharist I am covered in the blood of Christ, and then emblazoned with the Holy Spirit to burn away the chafe. It overcomes my inadequacy, loosing my tongue in such a way as to express what words cannot: The beauty of Gods Grace, the pain of Sin and the utter inadequacy of my heart. It is in full submission that I am allowed the gifts of the Spirit. It is not the power of my own will, piety or faith. But rather in the lack of all of these things that the Holy Spirit can come, heal and burn.
As on the Day of Pentecost; I am overcome by the Spirit of God. In my Pride it stirs humility. In my hate it stirs Love, and in my utter destruction I am Bathed in Grace.

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