In the middle of my sixth Zoom call of the day, my mother walks into my room with a tray of food and mug of fresh lemon and honey. My desk is a royal mess; there’s nowhere to put the tray. I point to the floor and my mother stresses that it’s not clean (but we don’t wear shoes in the house!). Flustered, whilst being hyper aware my fellow Zoomers can see my every move, I silently (on mute) and hastily push some books off my desk. ‘There!’ I motion to my mother, visibly annoyed. Has she never heard of knocking? Must she embarass me like that? She exits the room as I try to regain my composure on screen. Almost instantly, my heart drops as my head fights to justify my reaction. My eyes do not yet know they will be stifling tears as an empty tray makes it way downstairs and forgiveness is given before a word of apology escapes my mouth: “What would you like for dinner?’‘ It is only day eight of lockdown.
The novelty for those staying at home is beginning to wear off. The reality of living alone has further plunged our feelings of loneliness. The reality of living with others has exposed our selfishness like never before. The anxiety for those who must expose themselves for the sake of others is beginning to sink deeper and deeper. The reality of getting a will ready has come too soon. There are those of us who find ourselves burying our heads into our pillows, wanting for all of ‘this’ to be over. We cry with words we cannot find. We yearn and yearn for life before COVID-19. Somebody wake us up when this is all over.
But what is ‘this’ exactly? Perhaps it is the constant reminder that the world is not as it should be. That we are not as we should be. More than being constant, the reminders are relentless like waves during a storm. One thing colliding into another. News of death. News of job loss. News of broken hearts and broken bodies. Reactions of fear. Reactions of pain. Reactions of hurt. Reactions of jealousy. Reactions of pride.
Lockdown life has brought me into some very deep, often confusing and hidden places. The places I’m referring to can best be described as the ‘do not cross’, ‘stop, turn back!’ and ‘unauthorised entry will be prosecuted’ parts of my mind and heart. Not that the two are nearly as separate as I thought, either. One triggers the other. These are the parts of myself I wish to ignore, banish, rid of. It is from these parts that selfish, angry reactions to someone interrupting a video call are justified. It is from these parts that the ignorance of good sleep hygiene and discipline are being justified. It is from these parts that I focus solely on my wants and expend little energy on the needs of others. It is from these parts that the indulging in unhealthy habits may become justified. So far, I am reluctantly learning that self-care does not mean ignoring what the Bible calls sin. An active damaging to our relationship with God, with ourselves and with others. No amount of physical distancing can isolate sin it seems.
Jesus has ignored every sign my pride, fear and need for control has put up. Jesus crosses into, charges forward and is so prosecuted for entry into every part of brokenness I see within myself, within others and within the world. In doing so, he has declared all who trust in him as clean. Whole. Redeemed. A child of God.
In Isaiah 53 we find a harrowing description of Jesus’ execution for crimes he did not commit. En masse. Lest we think our crimes against God are small, God’s dealing with them ended in death.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
This weekend, Christians will gather to remember the point in history where God would enter into ‘this’ to bring justice, healing and restoration for all time. Easter merely reminds us of God’s invitation that comes, not just once a year, but in every moment of every hour.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:35-40)
Indeed, He has never driven me away. All glory be to God for his unstoppable grace.
If you would like to meet or reconnect with Jesus this Easter, here are some ideas: