“she offers tithe, but never takes communion…” -the daylights

January 25, 2008

(written on March 7, 2007)
“She never prays above a whisper
When she cries, she doesn’t make a sound
She offers tithe, but never takes communion
So scared to death that Jesus found her out…”

I mean, come on. That’s just a great verse. One of the most well written verses I’ve heard in music in a long time. I mean, just re-read it. If you can, if you know The Daylights and have their stuff, go listen to it. It’s perfectly written. I loved it when I first heard it, and it’s the kind of verse that still compels me to rewind in the middle of the song and listen to it again and say out loud, “Man! That’s a great verse! Gah!” And it’s a great song. One that makes me want to cry for whoever “she” is. And then the other day, it dawned on me. “She” is a lot closer than I thought. “She” is most people I’ve met in life. Even many people I’ve met in the church. “She” is even me sometimes. I don’t know the full story behind this song, but I do know the heart behind it. Why are we, sometimes, so scared to be ourselves. So scared to be real in our weakness. We are afraid of letting those around us help us for fear that the balance of power will be spun out of our control. 

A little over a year ago, I was in Nashville with a friend, attending a conference. I had traveled up to Nashville from Pensacola to attend this conference by myself. I was letting Jesus take me away with Him, like He often did with His disciples. In the midst of my busy busy ministry, I love it when He takes me away from the crowd to minister to me personally. He so beautifully orchestrated that a dear friend, who has been a mentor over the years, would be doing the exact same thing at this conference. And so, we were taken away alone… together. (which was perfect. God’s so cool) Throughout the conference were interspersed times of smaller community among conference attendees. For Heather and I, this smaller group was led by an incredible speaker and lover of Christ, Francis Chan and by one of my favorite deeply sincere worship leaders, Tim Hughes. By now, I don’t doubt that some of you can tell that I was at a Passion event. And true to its nature, the conference was amazing. The main sessions will wreck you and totally tear apart whatever your current views of worship and love are. But this community group was deeply moving for me that year. It was a leader’s group and, therefore was founded upon our roles as leaders. It was a group that ministered to us, and allowed us to minister to each other, as we spent those few days away from the busyness of it all. One night in particular was beyond words, and yet, I am going to try to use them here. This was a night of honest and desperate worship. I am convinced that true worship will always have a sense of desperation to it. I can’t really tell you all that Francis said that night, though I know it wasn’t even very much. And I can’t tell you the complete set list for the evening, though I know some of my favorites were on it. I can, however, tell you this- and this has changed my life over the last year: I realized that night that I was ashamed for what God had done for me. Don’t hear me wrongly, not ashamed or embarrassed BY what He did, but FOR what He did. I was spending all my days and all my worship crawling on my stomach and on my face in tears and shame into His throne room to meet with Him. I always came to Him with the idea that He did something I didn’t deserve and could never repay. Though it’s always good to remember who we were when He called us, it is not truth to come to Him in constant condemnation. And He freed me from that, and continues to free me from that. And scripture came to life in light of that truth. Ephesians says “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence”, Hebrews says “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” and that “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.” I John says “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” If our hearts do not condemn us! it’s only our own nature that condemns us, and that’s not truth! we can “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ!” If our own hearts do not condemn us, is what it says! Not IF the law does not condemn us, not IF our actions do not condemn us, not IF we get all our work done and IF we can find something suitable to wear. Cinderella herself was set up for doom with that line. Much like the law does for us, her hideous stepmother made sure she would never enter the throne room by inserting that little “IF”. In the same way “the law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” If it weren’t for magic and something other wordly, that girl would have never made it to the ball. She could never live up to all that that horrible woman laid out for her to do. As hard as she and those cute little talking clothed mice tried, all the work could not get done, and the dress would still look like rags. Even before her sisters tore it to shreds, the pink dress was so-so. And then she was wearing blue jewelry and a ribbon in her hair?! Can we say Molly Ringwald Pretty in Pink?? It was the best she could do, but it still wasn’t fit for the palace. And so her fairy-godmother stepped in and turned her filth into the most beautiful gown any little girl has ever dreamed of wearing. And the most unlikely creatures became the most exquisite. And in the end, she approached the Prince in confidence. And though, in the movie, it was all fading, she won his heart and “they lived happily ever after” and the things and people that condemned her were put to shame and were no longer a threat to her self worth. (sorry… that one’s always been my favorite since I was little little. Bear with me) 

The thing I’m tryin to get at is simply this: “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” We no longer hide under a veil in our shame. We reflect the glory of God. We are who we are. We are who He has made and is making us. And that is all we have and all we are. A few weeks ago, God transformed that word in my life: All. I kept finding myself saying He is all that I am and all that I have and that all I have is His and is Him. And that little word contradicts itself in such a beautiful way. ALL. It means both “everything” and “the only thing”. It is both all inclusive AND exclusive at the same time. So this God who is both everything AND the only thing, has called us to love each other. We are not called to hide our shame from Him or from each other. We are not called to silence. He does not wish for us to merely offer what we have but to abstain from taking of Him due to our regret for what He did for us… our shame that we are who we are and that He had to do anything to bring us back to Him at all. No longer do we have to crawl into His throne room on our faces in the dirt, we approach the throne of grace with confidence. We walk into His throne room and stand before Him unveiled reflecting His glory. Not only should that completely revolutionize how we interact with Him, but how we interact with each other as well. We have to ACTIVELY love each other. Let me know if that made any sense at all.


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