I was sitting in chapel the other day–or standing rather–preparing to sing the last song. To be honest, I had been struggling to concentrate all through chapel and was feeling kinda guilty. I knew the message was relevant to my life because I caught most of it. I also knew that I had missed some of the more relevant portions of it because I zoned out. So, there I stood, at a Christian college, having missed part of a great chapel and feeling rather miserable and guilty and totally not ready to worship.
But the worship leaders stepped up, completely ignoring my internal crisis. =P They were going to sing and worship whether I was ready or not. And they sang one simple song that held more significance for me than all that I had just heard (remember I missed part of the sermon). Still, God was teaching me through this song. He was graciously showing me truth even though I had been inattentive moments earlier. God totally jarred my world with just a few lines in the last song of chapel that day. The song was “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”
Two lines stuck out to me. “How great the pain of searing loss / The Father turns His face away.”
Out of love for us, the Father turns His face away from His Beloved Son. In absolute agony, He could not bear to see MY sin on His Son. His love for His Son was so great! Yet His hatred of sin caused Him to forsake His Son, and His Son cried out because of this. His hatred of MY sin. But this isn’t what smacked me in the face that day.
Instead, my thoughts turned (as is often the case) to Mexico. I was rather confused by my mind’s distracted wanderings as they flitted across Mexico City, zoned in on an orphanage, and threw me back into a 10-year-old boy’s hug. That memory is a year and a half old. And it certainly had nothing to do with the Cross.
Suddenly, I was overcome with tears, with devastating pain. My little brother, my sweet orphan friend, was far away. I missed his hug, his smile, his voice. I missed his little boy smell, his laughter. I was overwhelmed by these memories and by their abrupt departure from my mind. For a few short seconds, I was standing in Mexico, arms wrapped around a child. Only milliseconds later, I was jarred back to Virginia, to a chapel service in the basement of a dorm. How painful it was to leave my precious brother!
Now, before I say anything more, I want to make this clear: I am in NO way saying that my experience is analogous with the Father’s. In fact, because my experience is NOT like His, it makes His so much more powerful and awesome.
Ok. Make sure you read that again. Then you can read the rest of this.
Great. As I was saying, I was in agony. The pain of leaving that memory was almost enough to throw me into my seat. Just as I was jarred back to the moment, everyone around me sang, “How great the pain of searing loss / The Father turns His face away.” Those two lines almost drove me to my knees; they certainly drove me to tears. I clung to the back of my chair, barely able to stand. Why, you ask? For this reason: the pain I felt in being separated from my Mexican hermanito was nothing compared to the “pain of searing loss” that the Father felt when His Son was on the cross. My pain almost knocked my off my feet. The Father, infinitely stronger than I, turned His face from His Son.
Did you catch that? The Father is INFINITELY stronger than I am. There is no comparison. Yet, His pain was so great that even He–the Creator, the Infinite, the LORD–had to look away. His righteousness was so offended by MY sin that He turned from His Son.
Because my pain is completely incomparable to His, my love is also. Think with me. My pain at leaving my hermanito in Mexico while I’m in the US is in some way proportional to my love for that boy. I don’t feel the same amount of pain when I think about some of the other kids (whom I love) as I do for this particular boy ( with whom I have a close relationship). I miss him more than the others. It grieves me to not see his face or feel his hug.
If the infinitely strong God was so offended, so disgusted, by MY sin on His Beloved Son that He looked away from Him, how much more did the Father grieve? I cannot love like the the Father–His love is infinite. His infinite love must have caused Him infinite suffering, to turn from the Son He infinitely loves. Yet His infinite love extends to us as well. Thus, He did not remove the sin and guilt from His Son and place it on us, the ever-deserving-of-wrath. Instead, He turned from His Son because He infinitely loved us. He infinitely loves His Son, infinitely despises sin, and infinitely loves us. Thus, the Father suffered infinite pain to bring His beloved children into inheritance with His Beloved Son.
How do I conclude this? How do I leave this moment at the Cross that so changed everything? How do I move on with life and continue in my ways? I do not. I go to the Cross. I worship the One worthy of my praise, my Savior, my Redeemer. And I remember:
“Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer,
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.”
Dios te bendiga!