Thursday, February 21, 2013

Luke 7:36-50 (my version)

It's getting late, almost time for work.
I slip on my prettiest dress. The Pharisees are having a dinner party tonight which means faithful customers and good money for me. I sit in front of my vanity and brush my long blonde locks, humming as I try to drown out the sounds of my "co-worker" in the room next to me with a man that apparently likes it rough. I'm so used to the sounds. To the flirting. To the drunken men stumbling their ways into the bedrooms. To the banging up against the walls. The abuse and occasional screams. The sound of coins being exchanged afterwards. This has been my home for a long time now. I used to think it would always be my home, but ever since I saw that Man...things are...different....
Ha. Who am I kidding. 
I lock eyes with myself in the mirror...something feels off tonight. Oh, how tired I look. My once alive blue eyes are now a dull lifeless grey. My cheeks have little fullness left to brush makeup over, but still I make an effort hoping that the money will be worth the time spent on getting ready. I grab my bottle of perfume, the one my parents gave me as a little girl for my husband on my wedding night. When I first started in this business I tried to used the perfume sparingly in hopes of handing over this precious gift to a man whom I love, but now I use little because it is the only thing left I have of my life before this darkness. The only remembrance I have of family and sweetness and what a real home was like. Usually, I hate the smell of it for the painful reminder that it is and the memories the fragrance brings to my mind, but not tonight. Tonight I breathe in and something different fills my soul...maybe longing...or even hope? 
My eyes meet the eyes of this lifeless woman once again in the mirror. I let my mind wander into pity, something that has been happening frequently ever since I saw that Man on the street. I don't want to go out tonight. Though the money is high, something deep within me longs to stay in bed and dream of being held in a warm embrace. Self-pity quickly turns into shame and guilt and anger deep within me for the life I live...the life I have chosen. But I close this dam of my heart quickly before I drown in the mess of it all. I force myself to get up, remembering the truth of who I am and what I do. Oh how deeply I long for a different truth, but it doesn't matter, because this is who I will always be...right? I breathe in again and let the scent of my perfume fill my lungs for one more moment of dreaming and longing, then I smother the glimmer of hope by walking out the door. 
I make my way through the dark streets to the house of the Pharisee, Simon. My steps are quick along the way to avoid the slander and comments from the people in the town. I pretend that they can't see me and sometimes they do the same, but there is the occasional man or woman that sees my face and yells out "whore" or other words, words that seem to have become my name. Thankfully, I make it to the house unnoticed as the men start to gather. 
The air is cool but not cold like it has been the past few weeks. Spring is just around the corner. I place myself subtly by the door to let the men know that I am there and will be after their feast. The real business won't start until after dinner, until after they have had their wine. A few of these "religious" men see me as they walk past into the house. Though many have laid in my bed before, they try not to make eye contact with me. Cowards. Something about tonight makes me loathe them. 
And then, I see Him, the man from the street. The man who travels with the crowds following him. The one everyone talks about who performs miracles and heals people. Who eats with tax collectors, and sick people, and...prostitutes. 
I begin to panic. I don't want Him to see me, but all the same I want to throw my arms around His neck. My fear wins and I hide my face hoping He won't notice me. I wonder if He knows who I am or what I do? I slip around the other side of the house and run home as fast as I can, barely breathing. I burst through the door and collapse in the chair at my vanity trying to catch my breath, but can't seem to. Something about this man...I must see him again! Will He have me? No, there is no way a man like that would even be near me. But I must see Him! I meet eyes with the woman in the mirror again, and suddenly the dam opens, the one I have had tried to keep shut for so long. All my emotions burst fourth at once. I can't stop the memories from flooding my brain. Every mistake, every sin, every cruel word, every painful experience, every night spent used but still left alone. They come spilling out like a landslide. The tears won't stop. As I try to catch my breath, I my nose fills with the fragrance of my precious perfume...
Before I even know what I'm doing or where I'm running to, I find myself back at the Pharisee's house with my perfume in hand. I don't know what is happening but I do know the water pouring out of the dam of my heart isn't anywhere near stopping. I must get to Him. 
I burst through the door and quickly find the One I'm looking for in the back of the room at the table. I run to Him and throw myself at His feet. Something about His presence makes me weep even harder and I find my tears are washing over His toes. Everyone is watching, they have to be. They are all probably wondering what the hell I am doing here, a woman like me in the house of a Pharisee, barging in uninvited. But I don't care. All I care about is this Man. I realized that His feet are now in a pool of my tears. I grab my hair and being to wipe up the mess I have made. I kiss and I kiss and I kiss His feet because I don't know how else to show Him that I love Him. Oh how freely I have given away empty kisses before this moment. But these kisses are different. They are all I have to give him. These kisses and these tears. And then I remember my perfume. I grab it and before even realizing what I'm doing the whole bottle is poured out over Him. And I find that all I am and all I have is there... at His feet...pouring out. 
He talks with the Pharisee who owns the house, but my cries and my weeping and my kissing are so loud within me that I can't pay attention to their words to each other. 
But then, this man, Jesus, gently lifts my face from the ground to His face. My tear filled, blood shot eyes meet His loving gaze. He pulls me in close and whispers with the sweetest voice I have ever heard "Your sins are forgiven, beloved. Your faith has saved you; go in peace." And I dance in the home of His heart and His grace for the rest of forever in the truth of His great love for me. 
Thank you, O sweet Savior King, THANK YOU.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Repent and Return

"Yet, even now, REPENT and RETURN to me with all your heart..."-Joel 2:13


I feel like I'm in a dream as I lay on this sturdy rock and let the sunshine wrap its light and warmth around my body. The water runs clearer than I have ever seen it through these mountains today, begging me to taste its pureness. Above me, the clouds play a game with the sun by trying to hide it with their thickness. Of course not even the biggest one can mask the rays, but still they play. The bare branches of the trees wrestle in hopes of Spring; of being full with leaves and life. The grass dances with the wind, longing for their flower friends to start blooming. There is no one in sight, just You and me here resting in the beauty of this day You have created.
I have no agenda. No one else to worry about today. No appointments to make or things to get done. I write that more as a reminder to myself than a statement. How easy it is, even as I sit here in the stillness of this beautiful day, to rush "to do" instead of just being. But still the water flows with a whipser that says "Be still, my Beloved."
I have spent the last few days, the first days of this Lenten season, reading Joel 2:13 and wondering where and how to go about the "repenting and returning" to You, my Lord. What to get rid of? What to add? Where have I gotten away from you and how do I get back? You have already taken me to some dark places in my soul that scream of ungodliness and self-centeredness. I feel like most of my time spent with you recently has been much of "repenting" but not so much of "returning." How, Lord, do I return to You when I have gotten so far away? When I have screwed up so much and tried so hard to be my own god? But here in the midst of sunbathing and escaping and reading and resting, it seems to be happening without me even realizing it. I smile and laugh at myself a little for thinking that You would have this "returning" be anything else but getting lost in you.  What great JOY is found in your amazing grace and never ending love! Tears pour out of my eyes, reminding me of the blood that was poured that allows me to sit here on this Rock, on Your lap, in the first place. O Chirst, my Savior King, I adore you! My heart leaps at the thought of Your mercy! I am the "one whom Jesus LOVES," and how deeply that rings true in my soul today. Lord, may I, even now after all I have done against you and all I have failed to do for you, RETURN to Your loving arms and rest in the grace that washes me as clear as this water. Abba, you amaze me with your love for me! May today and everyday for the rest of eternity be about following you and loving you back. I throw myself in your merciful embrace... Amen."
[journal entry from 2/15/2013, a day spent at Greenbriar Park in Gatlinburg, TN]

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