The Gift of Tears

She had been waiting for what seemed like days. The antechamber outside the throne room was filled with people. They milled about faces filled with an odd expression of joy and fear. Those who waited with her had never seen Him face to face before. The thought of standing before the King of all Kings was delightful yet terrifying.

She folded her arms across her chest. Odd that she felt strangely self conscious. Her robes shone with the golden threads woven in a fashion she had never seen before and looked just as lovely as everyone else's, but still she felt...well, she wasn't sure. Her stomach bubbled with giddy anxiety knowing that she would soon be looking into His face.

No one in the antechamber knew for sure what He looked like. Those who went in, never came out. They had heard rumors, that once they had stood before the King and presented their gifts they were led to their new homes in the Kingdom. She thought fleetingly of her new home. She hoped it had a big wrap around porch with a swing and flower gardens bursting with color.

Her mind went back to His appearance. As a child she had imagined Him looking like a wizard; long white beard, flowing colorful robes,  mimicking one of the fictional stories she had read. When she grew into a woman He became more like a handsome warrior, her lover. She blushed. How silly she was to imagine the King of Kings as her lover. Yet she knew that He was all this and so much more than she could imagine. No book, or song or poem ever written, not even the Holy Writings themselves could truly paint the Master's face.

There were rumors that had floated back to them from those who had gone before. One rumor said he was dark like ebony and his eyes shone like blackest glass. Another found Him to be light like finest porcelain with eyes that looked through you like icy swords. Still another rumor had said that He had no form, but was merely glistening brightness, much like a chandelier of a thousand diamonds. She wondered how she would see him.

Trying to ease her anxiety she listened to conversations around her. Voices spoke in muted whispers, but once in a while, someone would come close enough and she could hear them talk about their gifts. Everyone was expected to bring the King a gift, and this was, perhaps, what terrified her the most. She had no gift, save herself. Everyone who gathered in that chamber had pledged their life to Him. What they spoke of were gifts that they had accumulated during their lives: others brought into His kingdom, gifts of gold and precious jewels, even gifts of service. She had nothing.

It wasn't that she hadn't done anything during her life, but she had nothing to show for it. She had lived her life according to His laws and desires, at least most of the time. Oh, she had struggled to submit, to love, to be kind and sometimes she failed, but she tried to do what was right. Maybe that is why she felt different than the others around her. She felt something akin to panic rise in her throat. She fought it down. She knew the King to be wise, patient and fair. Surely, He would let her into the Kingdom because she followed Him, after all she knew it was His mercy that had saved her, not anything she had done.

Suddenly the doors to the throne room opened. Silence fell on the room. She waited...an inhaled breath....holding....her name announced so that all could hear. She let out the breath and lifting her gowns, slowly crossed the room. Those around her, a thousand faces smiling and blessing her, telling her to enjoy His presence. She could  barely lift her eyes noting every swirl and squiggle in the marble floor. Now she was at the stairs. One, two, three, glistening steps that lead up to the heavy golden doors. 

She was ushered in and words failed to describe the scene before her. The Holy Writings filled her mind:

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
— Revelation 4 (NASB)

Those beings who brought her into the room, now led her closer to the throne. As she came nearer she could make out His form on the throne and she felt as though her body would disintegrate. Unable to continue walking she felt a weight greater than any she had ever been under. The weight of all her pride, her fear, her complaints, her selfishness, all of it, felt like a great hand pushing her down to the floor. Those who had brought her in moved away from her and she longed for their presence...for now...she...was...alone.

She remained there until a voice spoke to her like the tinkling of wind chimes in a gentle breeze. It was soft, child-like, kind. The voice seemed to come from all around and even from within her. Then it changed to the voice of a man. It spoke with authority.

"Beloved."

She thought she had heard Him wrong.

"Beloved, stand up. You are forgiven. You are washed in the blood of the lamb. You are mine."

She raised her head keeping her eyes closed, but eventually curiosity won out. She looked up.

His appearance was all at once known, yet unknown; old yet young. He appeared to her just as she had imagined Him. A stately King, an aging jovial wizard, a handsome young warrior all wrapped into one beautiful omnipotent being. What raised her to her feet was His smile.

He had descended from the throne and stood near her with His hand outstretched. She rose slowly and extended her hand timidly. He took it and the tingle that went through her body chased every remaining fear and doubt away. She knew she was home.

"You have a gift for me, Beloved." It wasn't a question.

She lowered her face. "But I have nothing my King."

He chuckled and raised her face with a finger under her chin. "Look over there."

He pointed to a place near the throne where there were hundreds of jars. Small ones, large ones, fat ones, thin ones. They looked to be made of all sorts of materials from glass to china, to brass and alabaster.

She looked back at Him. 

He jutted his chin towards the jars and told her, "Go find yours. You will know it when you see it."

She let go of His hand and crossed the throne room to where the jars stood. There were so many. How was she to know which one was hers? She was instantly drawn to the alabaster ones, especially those that ran deep with rusty red and cream. They gleamed in the light of the throne room. She found herself running her hand along the tops, enjoying the smooth sensation beneath her fingertips. Suddenly when her hand brushed a rather large jar with a simple lid her heart shuddered. She had found hers and she knew the jar's contents. 

She turned and saw that He was sitting on the shining steps that led up to the throne. For some reason this action did not seem strange at all. He was a King. He was her King. The very things that she learned about Him from the Holy Writings now all made sense.

He smiled again. "Beloved, you have been filling that jar since you were a child. Every time you scraped a knee, fell off your bike or took a fall those tears went in the jar. Bring it to me."

She picked up the beautiful jar carefully, its weight not even an issue for her new body. She drew near to where He sat. She removed her robes, for now, there was no shame. She knelt before the King and saw that He did not wear shoes. She smiled up at Him. 

When she opened the jar the memories rose around her as so many ghosts of the past and with them the heady scent of familiar perfume, the perfume of tears.

"Yours is a jar of millions of tears. I saw every hurt you ever felt. I held you every time the salt coursed down your cheeks. Tears of love, tears of pain, tears of heartache, and yes, even the tears of joy. This is your gift to me."

She lifted the jar and began to pour her life onto His feet. Her tears were and always had been her gift to Him.

(This was a fictional work - Written by Amy D. Christensen)

Pies, Processing and Proclamation

With all of the terrible things happening in our country, around the world, even in our own families, it is difficult to not want to run away and hide. A Gilligan's Island type shack on a sunny tropical beach sounds pretty good about now. No radio, no television, no cell phones and no internet. I want to be blissfully ignorant. Who wouldn't? But that is not reality. Reality is harsh and troubling. Reality screams of violence and injustice. Sometimes, reality just plain acts like a vacuum! It really sucks!

Photo credit Lisa Jessamy on StockSnap.

Photo credit Lisa Jessamy on StockSnap.

We all have to process life's difficulties and we all have different ways of processing. Some people go to the gym, while others sleep. You might lose yourself in a book, or curl up with a movie. Still, others turn to drugs, alcohol or food. We all have to process. You can't get away from it. Oh, you can ignore it for a while, but eventually it will all come crashing in on you, forcing you to process.

Today, I was very tired. My brain felt fuzzy. I really didn't want to do anything. Thoughts of the families of victims of violence flitted through my mind. I also dwelt on a friend who had a heart attack. There were others that my heart grieved for; my nephew who was supposed to marry next weekend, but whose fiancee called off the wedding, my daughter and her five year old son, who is struggling to find full time work, my mother who is almost 90 and still living on her own. Processing, processing.

One way of processing is to worry. Worry basically plays that same scenario through your mind, over and over and over. That doesn't get you very far. Another way of processing is to blame. It has to be everyone else's fault. Good luck with that. Today, I chose to process, by making a pie.

Photo credit Christy Lane Campbell on StockSnap.

Photo credit Christy Lane Campbell on StockSnap.

As I wearily got out the ingredients and started mixing them together, I began to process. Flour, salt, shortening, water, they are all simple ingredients. It felt almost therapeutic to mix the dough, pat it and roll it out on the table. It reminded me of what a lovely, simple task it was, but how very necessary to making a good crust. It occurred to me that God uses simple ingredients to bring about change in our lives and in our world. Difficulty is an ingredient. Heartbreak is an ingredient. So is love, forgiveness and repentance. If I want to make a good pie, I have to mix the ingredients together. God is mixing. I am processing. Sometimes, I process by writing. 

Part of processing is asking questions: Why is this happening? Why me? Why so much hate and violence? Why so much pain and heartache? It's okay to ask questions. You can even shout them at God in anger if you want. He loves you and He knows you are hurting. But after you've asked the questions, don't forget to listen for the answers. They may not look exactly like the answers you wanted, but go back to the basics. Flour - He is the bread of life. Salt - He is the salt of the earth. Shortening - like a fattened calf, He was our sacrifice. Water - He is the living water. 

Photo credit  Markus Spiske  on StockSnap

Photo credit Markus Spiske on StockSnap

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
— Hebrews 13:8 (NASB)

Processing should always lead back to Jesus. Only Jesus can make this chaotic thing called life turn into a good pie. If we allow our thoughts to go the road of worry, hate, bitterness and anger, no problems will ever be solved. Jesus is the way. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the life. That's what I choose to think on.

crosses
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
— Philippians 4:8