why communion makes me weepy

I used to be ashamed at the tears squeezing out the corners of my eyes when I walked up to take communion. I used to think I was too much removed from those summer camp experiences where tears and emotions seemed more appropriate. I used to think getting teary-eyed at the communion table would reveal some of the messy layers of my life I try to keep hidden – the less tidy and more sinful layers.

Sometimes I still try to blink away the emotion. I’ll try to focus on something other than the weight of my eternal destiny and the Savior who stepped in to change my course. Tonight, I let the tears slip down as I walked up the aisle.

I sang along to “Jesus Paid it All” in a soft murmur, believing every word because sin had left a crimson stain but He washed it white as snow.

And that’s a miracle.

It’s okay to get emotional when unbelievable things happen and it’s okay to have that emotion on a weekly basis. Because my salvation doesn’t make any sense.

When I take the bread and drink the wine, proclaiming Christ’s death until He comes again, I am believing that His death was sufficient to cover my sin. I am believing Christ as my substitute and that He ransomed my soul from the pit of emptiness by putting Himself inside that pit.

Unbelievable.

It isn’t a long walk between the wooden pews to the front of the church, but it’s long enough. The upright bass, piano, and saxophones accompanied my reflection and the tears were persistent.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

There’s no good reason for this weak child to find or be found, but God called my heart out of darkness into light. And so the short walk before I rip off the bread and drink the wine from the cup is full of ways I’m not worthy, ways I’m overwhelmed by God’s gift.

My tears may sound like nonsense, but I suppose to my heart it is the opposite. I am not sad for my salvation, just overwhelmed by it – by the bigness of it and the unlikeliness of it.

The walk back to my wooden pew after that little feast is always a beautiful celebration. I am always breathing deep sighs and lifting up my chin because as weighty as that communion dinner is, His grace is weightier still. Anything I may have brought up with me – shame or guilt or fear or doubt – He already covered in the sacrifice on the cross and I am free of it.

I get weepy at communion. It’s just a thing that happens every Sunday. Sometimes I try to hide it and blink it away, but other times I let those little tears roll because communion is a an emotional encounter.

hidden in this

There is glory, hidden in this. There is.

I’m really stuck on it, but I won’t apologize for being redundant.

Christ died. He was buried and it was over. They had crucified the God-man and the sky went black with remorse. The worst and unthinkable sin had been committed and the consequences stretched out to touch the cosmos. Christ died.

“Do you believe that God is sovereign?”

My mentor spoke these words while I awkwardly asked for some solid answers with tears streaming down my cheeks. She’s not much of a cry-er, so she apologized for not being more sensitive but she did not apologize for her advice.

“Caroline, if you believe God is sovereign then His plan will not fail. Do you believe God is sovereign – that He is in control of everything and even this?”

I sniffled out a “Yes,” and felt a little better. That was almost 5 years ago.

Now, my “yes” has less sniffles attached (most times), but it is the truth I cling to when the glory seems buried.

The truth of God’s sovereignty is the dawn when glory feels hopelessly hidden six feet under.

It seems to me that after Jesus’ death, more than any other time in the history or future of the world, the glory of Christ appeared hidden.

He was dead, gone, crucified, humiliated, en-tombed, embarrassed, done.

But there was glory hidden inside the worst and most heinous sinful crime. There was a resurrection and redemption. There was victory over sin and death. There was invitation to new life. There was reconciliation.

And all these things were planned in the mind of a loving and gracious Father before the beginning of time so that His children could come near and step into the light of His glory.

There was a glorious dawn hidden on the other side of the dark sky while the Savior’s body was still limp. There was glory.

Do you believe that God is sovereign – that He truly does work everything out for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)? Do you believe that there is glory hidden inside the death of God?

Let the redeemed say, “Yes!” and “Amen!”

Today, what part of your world do you doubt God’s sovereignty reaches – finances, relationships, future, career, children, politics or your health insurance?

Do you believe God is sovereign – in control of everything and even this? Because God has hidden glory in your “even this” and it would delight Him greatly if you believed Him.

hearing the gospel song

“Like you, I need to hear the gospel song over and over again because my soul is a sieve and the gospel leaks out of it, leaving only the husk of Christianity – my self-righteousness and obligations.” Elyse Fitzpatrick in “Counsel from the Cross

You’ll probably have to read that little nugget one more time. I did, anyway.

Is your soul a sieve the gospel leaks out of, leaving the shells of human efforts on top? I feel like no matter how many times I go to the river to fill up my cup, I will soon be found in the desert and empty.

Empty because I let the gospel seep out. Empty because our soul can only be a sieve on this side of heaven.

And that’s why we need the gospel song over and over again – because pretending to be filled only keeps us empty.

In the book, Fitzpatrick asks a friend who is struggling, “How do you think the resurrection impacts this circumstance?” Her friend responds, “I know it should but I just don’t know how.”

How many times is this true of us? We really do believe – in a Sunday knowledge kind of way – that Christ transforms us.

But, we also really believe that Christ has little to do with our best friend’s gambling problem or our parents’ divorce or our children’s grades. We know Christ is in all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), but we also know that little Johnny has had to stay inside from recess because he is spitting at girls.

Can it really be true that the resurrection – that event that took place 2,000 years ago – could impact the gambling and the divorce and the grades and Johnny? And if the resurrection does have impact (because we know it should), does that mean we just expect all those circumstances to change for the better – kind of like neosporin for cuts?

And that’s why we need the gospel song over and over again – because pretending to be filled only keeps us empty.

When we tackle gambling and divorce and misbehaving little ones apart from the resurrection, we are aides in destruction. When we believe that God is not relevant or helpful or interested in those matters, we are saying that we are the best solution. We convince ourselves that God is a useful “help in times of trouble” only in certain circumstances and for the rest, it’s good old-fashioned DIY (because who knows your problems better than you, anyway?).

How’s that working out for you, champ? Not so good, at least for me. Soon enough, I’ll come crawling back to the throne of grace with all those husks on the top of the sieve and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Give me some of that gospel truth. Remind me what it means that you died and rose again. Remind me of the resurrection.”

The power of the resurrection is in believing God’s sovereignty stretched so far to allow the worst suffering in order to allow the most glory and joy.

The truth is, God is not surprised by your gambling or divorce or Johnny’s spitting. God is not surprised by your fear or your pride or your greed or your desperate need for coffee at 7 am. He is not surprised when you lust after a married man or worry about your jean size or lie on your taxes.

The power of the resurrection is that God was never surprised at sin – that He sent His Son while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8) – and that Christ’s death and resurrection effectively conquers and cancels sin in our lives. Today. Not two thousand years ago. Today – the coffee, the gambling, the pride, Johnny’s spitting, the divorce, and the jealousy.

Christ canceled sin when he endured the cross, “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). And this canceling power frees us to have joy in the middle of struggle and pain and confusion.

This sin-canceling power frees us to live like no circumstance will bury us in the ground, because we have been raised up.

So, let the gospel song be sung over you again and again today. Get filled up and then get filled up again. Sing the power of the resurrection until you forget the words and then listen for the words again.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

Lord, I need You

The road got watery today – just blurred up without warning. I wiped it away and sang this song with the sadness of my own heart’s wandering.

Because where you are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

I need you, O Lord, I need you
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
My God, how I need You

It’s not just that addiction doesn’t know what “side of the tracks” to haunt and it’s not just that the sturdy wooden pews at the courthouse feel so much different than the tattered chairs of a living room. It’s not just the mess of names and family trees and explanations. It’s not just those things, but it is those things too.

I don’t know what started the waterfall today, but I know it made me acutely aware of my need for a Savior. I didn’t make it to small group tonight for the silliest reason – I got lost. Literally, lost on the way back from my last appointment. I was driving back and forth and sideways trying to locate a road that would point me in the direction of home and failed more times than I’ll admit. That’ll shake a person into the knowledge of need and it did me.

I turned off the music and just sang out that chorus on repeat. I realized how beautiful the words “my one defense, my righteousness” are to my soul. My defense against sin and deception and all the forms it takes in my day (frustration, fear, worry, pride, selfishness) is that righteousness is planted in me. God’s grace reaches deeper than my sins can ever go so that I am freed to righteousness in Christ.

My one defense to sin (Christ) is also my victory over sin (righteousness). It’s all wrapped up in one glorious bundle and it took way too long today for me to live like that truth is a Thursday reality. Too long.

I need You, Lord. O my, how I need You!

You have authored miracles in my life to free me from fear and pride and selfishness and worry. I desperately need You to help me walk like You’ve done just that. And I will never grow out of that desperate need.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

 

on guilt in life

No guilt in life, no fear in death.
This is the power of Christ in me.

These lines from “In Christ Alone” make my bottom lip tremble. Now more than yesterday and tomorrow more than today. More and more I feel the power of Christ in me conquering the death in me.  Because, with awful dread in my bones, my guilt grows as my soul expresses all the ways it’s prone to wander. And I hate it.

I hate feeling schmoozed and stunted by temptation, knowing I can look back and see my own willful footsteps led me to the place I despise.

Jared Wilson writes in his book, “Gospel Wakefulness,”

The gradual dawn of gospel wakefulness is occurring for you as the Spirit brings your sin to mind, pours more grace upon you, and bears more fruit of good character and good works in you. To this end, then, you should read the gospel, listen to the gospel, sing the gospel, write the gospel, share the gospel, and preach the gospel, all the while asking God to administer its power more and more to your life.

As my sin comes to mind (and there’s never a shortage), I pray the gospel quickly follows to fill in all that’s empty and mend all that’s broken.

The gospel is news like the tsunami was news and the presidential race is news and the fall of the Berlin wall was big news. The gospel is news because it happened.

But, if the gospel is going to transform the way I wake up, the way I look at the night sky, and the way I grieve after a funeral, then the heavy joy of the gospel news must come from my heavy and agonizing awareness of what it accomplished.

“No guilt in life” is not so simply stated. The power of Christ in me reminds me of my guilt, of the weight of it. Christ overcame a world of guilt in my life – a world of growing, messy guilt that weighs more than I can bear.

Christ did not die for my sin. Christ died for me, a sinner.

And there is sweet, sweet joy for broken spirits. Sweet, deep, beautiful joy for those keenly aware of the power and depth of their rescue.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

*This reflection will be one of many as I read through Jared Wilson’s “Gospel Wakefulness.”