Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cacophonic grace

Have you heard the saying "that which does not kill you make you stronger"?

Yeah, I disagree.

Trials do not make me stronger. Trials reveal me. Trials disarm me. Sometimes, trials weaken. Sometimes, they crush. They can even kill. But trials do not make me stronger.

Trials put us on the stand. Bare faced, no mask, nowhere to hide. Trials turn up the volume of our emotions; they amplify the refrain of our souls.

What do we sing in the dark? What songs in the storm?

I had an unpleasant encounter recently. The incident was so petty, so trivial in comparison to the kinds of trials that other people would come upon. But it was enough to throw me off. Enough to reveal the unkindness and selfishness that was mine.

The struggle was something I regularly faced, but I somehow managed to tune it out, like the buzzing of a gnat. I knew I was disobeying the Lord, but I became an expert at avoiding it, masking it, justifying it especially to myself.

The incident brought my sin out into the open. The Ugly I had nurtured and stowed away in the closets of my soul became plain as day. Perhaps it was not obvious to outsiders, but before Hans and the boys, there was no hiding now.

The volume was turned up, and there was no song.

All I could hear was the harsh clamor of discord, blaring, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" I was the noisy gongs; I was the clanging cymbals.

Church bells may come to mind when we think of repentance. The lovely ringing of melodies so sweet and nostalgic, pouring out of the church's tall and ancient steeple. Each note, full and deep, calls the weary and hungry to come home.

My call of repentance sounded slightly different.

There, under the weight of the noisy gongs and clanging cymbals that was mine, the Lord called me to come. The cacophony was neither sweet nor delightful, but it was the sound of grace and mercy. In his perfect love and infinite knowledge, God gives his children pain if pain is the thing that would bring us back to him.

Trials amplify the poverty of our hearts. Trials do not make us stronger, but by God's grace, the Lord uses trials to drive us to our knees before the One who is strong. Here, we cast our eyes on the One who bore the weight of our sins. He bore the weight of the rugged cross.

Soul, sing the Lord's song in the dark, in the storm.
Soul, amplify Christ. 

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