Monday, April 26, 2010

One Tear in the Driving Rain

I've not had a week quite like this before.

It's been so hard. There is one plate in front of me full of reading, study guides, books, notes, and all kinds of academic delights. There is another with my friends, coffee, car rides, and laughter. Given the choice, I think you know which I would rather go with, haha.

The problem is that there is a clock on the table, too. A week. You, Lara, have a week, more or less, to take care of each of these things. You'll be sorry if you have anything left on either one by the time the clock hits zero.

On the one hand, having so much to do is good for my mind. It's giving me concrete things to deal with, day by day, just trying to finish the next thing. Figuring out what must happen in the next hour is usually where my mind goes.

When I have a moment to myself, though, things immediately get a lot more frantic. You will be on a plane to Sarajevo in two weeks. You are going to a country that no one you know has ever visited. They speak a language they don't teach at your school. They eat food you can't pronounce.

They've seen things you couldn't begin to imagine in your wildest dreams.

This fact did not sink in for quite a while. Even this weekend I wrote a twelve page paper on the genocide in Bosnia that happened about fifteen years ago. I know all about what happened, from Slobodan Milošević to Srebrenica to Dayton. It was easy to remain pretty detached and scholastic about it, until all of a sudden, my mind reverted back to something I had read in the book Love Thy Neighbor by Peter Maass.

He was a journalist in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, and he remembered meeting an old woman walking home. He stopped her and asked her some questions, which she hesitated to answer and tried to avoid. He saw some slices of bread in her bag, and asked her if she had enough to eat (since the Serbs had strangulated the food supplies going into Muslim towns), and she broke down, telling him she wished the Americans would just bomb them and put them out of their misery. It was better than getting food aid sent from the UN.

She'd rather be dead than suffer what they were enduring.

Earlier, just as I was telling my friend about how I wasn't sure yet what I had gotten myself into, my tears involuntarily welled with tears. "How can I talk to someone who has seen what they have seen? I have no idea how they feel. What can I tell them?" I started to choke.

My heart was finally broken for Bosnia.

It's true, I don't know what I'm getting myself into. I haven't endured anything that they have. I live a life that is far too comfortable in the U.S., having experienced so much freedom and safety, as well as an absence of hatred for who I am. How could I have so much? How can others not? How is that fair?

I actually left writing this to take a shower because I didn't know where I was going with my thoughts, and in my head popped this fact:

"Jesus wept." John 11:35

Joke all you want about this being the shortest verse in the bible, there is so much hidden in these two words that I hadn't unpacked before. Jesus is fully man and fully God. He never erred from the path set before him to endure the cross and redeem mankind so that God and his people could be reunited once more, in full intimacy and fellowship. He was perfectly blameless before the Father's eyes.

And when his friend passed away, he cried.

He knew he had the power to bring him back from the dead. He even planned on doing so. He waited to do it so that people would have no question when they saw Lazarus get out of the tomb that it was nothing short of a miracle. He had the key to eternal life and had healed hundreds before. But he still wept.

It's not hard to become too bogged down by the idea of who God is: triune, sovereign, infinite, and intimate. How could a God so big care about someone so small? We imagine this enormous distance between ourselves and his heavenly throne, as if he is sitting there and we are slowly crawling on our hands and knees up endless steps toward where he resides. (I kind of think of those creepy steps in Aladdin where the lamp is.) He doesn't care about us. He can bide his time waiting for what he knows will happen -- because he's God -- and wait for us to figure out how foolish we are in the grand scheme of what he has made so.

This God, and his Savior, are not far away, though. Jesus wept. His heart broke. He cares about us. He laments the things in this world that are anything short of the glory he knows in heaven.

He weeps with those who have seen most atrocious things.
He weeps with me when I weep for them.
Anyone who loved humankind enough to endure excruciating death for it surely weeps when it weeps itself.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

The kicker: he has the power to undo the terrible things that make us cry. He brought back the dead man he had previously mourned himself. He healed men who could not walk for decades. He drove demons out of children who frothed at the mouth and hurt themselves. He cured those who simply reached out to touch the hem of his robe.

And he rose from the dead, after being crucified and locked into a tomb with a stone rolled before the door, three days after he was killed.

Hey, guys, this is good news!

He is here to save us because he loves us. He doesn't just see a bunch of ants and watch them drown in puddles and shake his head, or see one devour another and stand unfeeling. He loves us. He loves us enough to give us free will, that we can choose whether or not to love him back, and it breaks his heart to see us turn away.

The ramifications of this are too big for a college student on a laptop at 1:30 in the morning. They shake the foundations of the earth. When I stop to think about everything that it means for Jesus to weep, I could leap off my chair and dance around the room.

It has so changed me, against my will, as I discover more and more about Jesus, that I have nothing to lose by telling others of the deep wellsprings of gladness within my heart. It's not pushing or persuading or preaching. It's just telling another person what has happened to me, and what I know, and it all points back to him.

I am moved to love Christ because he wept for me in my death, my sin, and then brought me forth from my grave to have life in abundance with him.

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