Monday, January 18, 2016

No loss with Jesus

Losses, yes.

I have this saying, ‘There is no loss with Jesus.’
It probably sounds to most people like some pat cliché drummed up by ‘Christian’ marketing agents to promote some ‘ministry’ or maybe a new line of evangelistic apparel and accessories, like my favorite bible pouch, that has ‘Witness Gear®’ on an embroidered tag sewn to the front of it.

But when I say there is no loss with Jesus, I speak as a sixty-four year old man who, though he has seen and experienced a lot in this world, is still a reckless and hopeful twenty-four year old at heart, who can't believe that his once smooth long neck is now short and decorated with a double chin.

No loss with Jesus means for me,
what can they cut off, and I still be me?

I have played this game with myself mentally for many years, even before I realised that my life was no longer in my own hands, that from here on out, I was a prisoner who had to take what comes, and do what I was told—but a prisoner of Jesus.

Like what happened to Job, someone has followed my every move and snatched away my initial happiness and prosperity in this world, to see what I would do. ‘He only worships You because You take care of him so well. But just let me…’

So, one by one, the layers of finery that took such pains to apply were stripped off, just as Martin Luther writes in his great hymn, ‘Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also…’ And driven home were the words, ‘Anyone who loves… more than Me is not worthy of Me.’

Is this what it takes to be worthy of You, Lord? To be raised so high, blessed with family, profession, reputation, wealth, health, happiness—though tempered by hardship—and then to have these snatched away, and oneself cast down to the dust of death, left in the bone fields at the mouth of She’ol?

Sometimes I feel—yes, the flesh pities itself—like the writer of Psalm 88, who ended his lament with the line, ‘now darkness is my one companion left.’ But I rest a moment, take pause, and reconsider, rehearse the blessings that holy prophet David the King sang in another psalm,

Bless Yahweh, my soul,
and remember all His kindnesses:
in forgiving all your offenses,
in curing all your diseases,
in redeeming your life from the Pit,
in crowning you with love and tenderness,
in filling your years with prosperity,
in renewing your youth like an eagle's.
Psalm 103

Are any of these things untrue? Even for one who, like Job, feels justified to sit and lament in the ash pit, scraping his sores with broken pottery? No, no one has yet fulfilled the damage from heaven that that prophet endured. Yet even he, once he took refuge no more in his own innocence but in Divine Majesty, could have read the restoration of his life in the yet unmanifest Divine Son in the words of His forefather David.

All my offenses, forgiven.
All my diseases, cured.
My life, saved from annihilation and imbecility.
My place, defined by love and tenderness.
My years, prosperous as earth’s bounty flows.
My youth, winged and renewed every day.
Thus, there is no loss.

Whatever we think we have, whatever we think we are, this is nothing, until we learn this, ‘the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases’ (Proverbs 21:1), and then we will hear from inside us, speaking,
‘The blessing of Yahweh is his, and vindication from God his Saviour’
(Psalm 24).

Yes, in the world there is loss, but there is no loss with Jesus.
‘In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world’
(John 16:33).

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