“It’s my life isn’t it?”
Danny and I sat on the front step watching the black line grow on the horizon – a tornado warning had been issued and he wanted to be ready. I had a Bible of some translation in my hand, he a pistol of some caliber in his. Danny had been buried in a basement of a strip center when the last tornado blew through town and that wasn’t going to happen again. He was 16 now but his father’s death of just a couple years before, he jumped off the Ohio River Bridge, was still burning in his heart. Suicide, why not? “It’s my life isn’t it? “Well, actually, no it’s not, Danny,” or something like that, I responded. “You have been bought with a price, it’s not you who live but Christ in you – it’s not your life, like it or not.” I’m pretty sure that is not an exact quote, but it was what was in my mind that spring afternoon. Danny is alive and well today, still living a life, I trust, not his own.
When I thought of the oil in the lamps of the bridesmaids in last week’s sermon, I realized it had to be Christ in us, not our lives alone that kept the lamps lit. As Isaac of Nineveh said in the seventh century, “There is a love like a small lamp, fed by oil, which goes out when the oil is ended; or like a rain-fed stream which goes dry, when rain no longer feeds it. But there is love, like a spring gushing from the earth, never to be exhausted.” The wise virgins are in touch with the inexhaustible river. So the oil is continuously replenished rather than consumed.
It seems to me that we experience this oil as light, life and love. Light, in that it is about seeing. The life in that it leads to eternal life. And love, well, this is a wedding feast! (You can hear the sermon on line…) The thing that still strikes me is that where we tap into this source of light, life, and love is in the presence of our Lord in us, Christ in us, not we who live but Christ who lives in us. His presence. And the way we nurture this presence is through transformation, which is the focus of we are about at New Covenant!
And so we push into transformation every way we can – through God’s word, through training in spiritual exercises, through relationships in community, and inviting the Holy Spirit to be present. Whether it is in solitude, in worship, or in acts of compassion, we say, ‘how else are we known as your people?’
One last thought is that what we want to do is to keep as little as possible between our Savior and us. What gets in between us? You name it – distractions, fear, good times, or bad times. You fill in the blanks. Will we be ready when the bridegroom appears?
Nothing Between My Savior and I
Time takes its toll, weather makes its mark, man creates disaster.
The tombstones stood, some tall, mighty, and gleaming;
Yet others warm and crumbled under the weather of the days gone by.
These are monuments of lives that had past:
Soldiers and Chiefs; Widows and Orphans.
Presidents and Heroes; Homeless and Crippled.
But of these lives, what remains?
A symbol of their peace, joy, and glory;
A recollection of their achievements, recognitions, and accomplishments;
Or the crumbled stone of a lonely, hardened life.
Further still what forgoes of these deaths? –
That is only known by The Master and His servant.
For in his death he has left the way so that
Death does not have its sting.
Through the struggles of life, the pressures of long days;
The happy times and the sad;
The good times and the bad;
We all set for ourselves a symbol of who we are.
When it comes to be set in stone,
Will it read
“Nothing between my Savior and I?”
by A.J. Buffington