the Priest who sat down

I was doing arithmetic to the rhythm of the running path tonight…
And things were adding up like this:

3 weeks
1 summer camp
1 missions conference
4 states
5 jobs
5 different beds
1 parent meeting
3 days of family reunion
hundreds of smiles, sighs, and near-tears
_____________________________

Arithmetic is not my thing, so I shook the numbers out of my head and thought about Old Testament priests. I thought back to their days full to brimming with activity – with messy, bloody, smelly activity. A priest’s job was never done. He would never get home at night and know that any real progress had been made. He would always, always have work and it would always, always be blood-drenched.

The entire vocation of “priest” was set up (in grace) because of man’s sin revealed through the law given to Moses. The people in Nehemiah 8 wept as they understood how far they had fallen from right relationship with the Lord. The distance was so far that there was no hope of recovery. The people listened to the Book of Law and looked at the chasm created by their sin and they knew – there was no way to reach right relationship with the Lord again. So they wept … and the priests worked overtime with blood-soaked hands because the chasm was so great.

The system was intricate and difficult to maintain, but the priests returned to work every day after blood-filled day because it was the only way that sin would find atonement.

And then there was Jesus. Oh, I love my Jesus.

Jesus, the great High Priest, stepped into the chasm that couldn’t be filled for thousands of years to accomplish what could never be bought by thousands of sacrifices. All those trips to the temple – all those long voyages – came to an end when Christ set his face toward Jerusalem.

He was the sacrifice that ended all other sacrifices because His was sufficient.

The temple no longer needed to bustle with bloody activity and the work of the priests changed overnight… and Jesus sat down. Though Jesus is the great High Priest (a vocation that would mean work without end), He sat down at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19).

There is something about the Truth of what Christ accomplished on the cross that can be claimed when mornings look menacing and when minutes refuse to stretch a moment further.

Jesus accomplished what nothing else could to offer what nothing else can and there’s not a single shred of doubt about it. The weight of His confidence is measured in His sure, seated posture next to His Father.

And that is why all my numbers smashed in to all my days inside of weeks point to One blood-soaked sacrifice and all the peace of a seated King.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Costly Sacrifice

As I was preparing for Monday’s mission trip meeting, this passage from 2 Samuel 24 came to mind. We are a team with an interesting combination of backgrounds, skills, and testimonies. Some of us can give the “Christian all my life” story and some of us begin with, “my parents didn’t care what religion we chose.” One thing God has really put on my heart for these students (and myself) is that we must all be challenged as David was when it comes to sacrifice:

But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

When God spoke through Gad to tell David to build an altar in a certain field (not coincidentally the same field where Abraham brought Isaac all those years ago), David was more than ready to do so. He went to the field and inquired with the owner. The owner was like, buy it? No, you can just have it! I can’t really blame him…. David was the king and a pretty powerful one at that. But David refused. He couldn’t stand the thought of his obedience costing him nothing. He refused to offer sacrifices to the Lord without paying for it.

I love this.

We, as Christians, are constantly on the hunt for sacrifices that are easy. We’ll even do a lot of them – join a lot of clubs, movements, shoe drives, fundraisers, trips, camps – you name it and we’ll do it (as long as there is something in it for us and it doesn’t hurt too badly). We do want so much to help, serve, love, and give … but our ‘between the lines’ prayer is always, “Lord, please don’t make it hurt too much. Please, let it come easy and be good and obviously victorious… and Lord, most of all don’t let people laugh at me while I’m doing it.”

Really? Yes, really. Of all the things we are afraid of, I really think embarrassment tops the list. The people who are facing death (in my opinion) are more bold in their efforts than those of us facing a few sneers or rejections.

What can we learn from David’s response to God’s request? When God calls us to do something we should be surprised if there is no cost involved. We should question our obedient actions if we aren’t feeling discomfort. If we are presenting our lives as sacrifices, then we might just expect to feel the sacrifices crowding our everyday ‘normal.’

But, you know what we can also expect? God’s presence.

After David built the altar in the field he insisted on buying, God responded to the needs of the land.

Not that we need more reason than God’s gracious dealing with us, but God gives more reason – He shows up. He welcomes a broken and contrite heart and refreshes a weary spirit. When we put everything on the line (even our expectations of His response), He will never disappoint.

Wow.

that’s reason enough to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy