I was given an assignment once, in one of the many self-improvement classes I’ve completed over the years, to fill a paper bag with images representative of myself. More specifically, on the outside of the bag, I was assigned to paste images that represented how I think I appear to the world: my public face. On the inside, the assignment was to paste images of my inner-life: all the things going on inside of me that no one sees.
This was a fascinating exercise and I recommend it for anyone wanting to get to know themselves better. The images could come from anywhere: magazines, internet, personal photos or drawings, etc. As I scanned through thousands of images, the exercise became more about eliminating what I wasn’t and selecting only those things that rang absolutely true with me. I still ended up with far too many and had to get a little creative with my display.
Sitting down with my paper grocery bag, I had two piles: the outside and the inside. The outside pile was completely manageable: no problem. The inside pile, which I had whittled down twice already, was still three times the size of the outside pile. My inner-life is apparently enormous. No way can I get this all to fit in here!
Of course there’s a way. There is always a way. As I laid out the pictures, a pattern began to form and I ended up making a kind of six-foot long collage which I rolled up and placed inside the paper bag. The pictures are inside the bag, right? That was the assignment.
What I didn’t reckon on—and dummy me for even thinking I’d get away with any privacy in this exercise—was that we then were asked to share our creations with the rest of the class. Whoa! Yeah, didn’t I see this coming? I am smart enough to figure such things out; but I suppose there was a part of me that was hoping I might get away with just doing the exercise and talking about the things I learned from it. Nope! Show AND tell was the modus operandi of the day.
Everyone else in the class had followed the instructions. All had created their collages pasted to the bag inside-and-out as specified. I felt smaller and smaller with each presentation. And then it was my turn. The outside of the bag was no surprise to anyone. I think that’s good. At least I’m accurate. But then it came time to reveal the inside and I found myself apologizing that I couldn’t come up with a better way. I pulled out the monster collage and unscrolled it on the floor.
The beauty of this moment for me was the reaction of my classmates. They stood up out of their seats to come up and get a closer look, seemingly eager to find out what in the world could possibly take up so much real estate.
You’re curious about it now, aren’t you? Right. Well, suffice it to say that I have since repainted many of those pictures through the ramblings of this blog. Not all, of course. Never all! But many. And this brings me to the topic of this post.
In the organization of all those pictures, there was at the very bottom a line of images that bordered the nethermost regions of this statement of my inner life. Someone asked, “Why are all the pictures of Jesus at the bottom?”
“Because,” I answered, “Those feelings are closest to my heart.”
Now, I realize that by simply mentioning the name of my Savior on this page, I have lost part of my audience already. I don’t talk about this much because, true to my statement, my feelings for and about my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, are deep and reverent and abiding. They never change, except to grow deeper and more reverent and ever more abiding. To speak of Him flippantly or in any way that fails to honor the Great I Am, would be invidious to the spirit that strives within each of us.
Today is Good Friday and this Sunday will be Easter. The Christian world is ablaze with celebrations of his crucifixion and resurrection. When it comes to “celebrating” my Savior, I tend to become very quiet and plunge deep down into a clear misty pool of blue-green water at the bottom of a great chasm in my soul. While the walls of the cavern are dark, jagged and looming, the pool emits a light from within as though the water itself were the source of it.
Way far above, outside the cavern and above the great rift, storms will rage and voices will swell in cacophonous discord. Sometimes it will be calm and sunny. Sometimes there will be tornados of doubt or tsunamis of paralyzing grief. But whatever the weather up there, the atmosphere down here in my deep pool is always the same.
Quiet. Calm. Love. Here, where I come to visit my Master, I am enveloped by His love. To me, the true miracle of Jesus Christ is His emanating power for everlasting goodness. And I’m not saying that he’s some ethereal metaphysical force. No. He is corporeal with resurrected body and all. It’s just that His influence is so pervasively ubiquitous.
He is the creator of this world. The Alpha and the Omega. The Light that shines through the darkness, “and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” He is the source of all life and of all love. Every good action performed by mankind is the result of the light of Christ moving within us. It is our inspiration: our breath of life.
And so, just because I don’t talk about it a lot doesn’t mean I don’t think about it—almost constantly. This is one of those “introvert things” where, when it’s really precious, we kind of keep it to ourselves. Not that we don’t want to share, but simply because… maybe we don’t know how to do it justice.
So, just a few thoughts for this time of the year. I wish you a Happy Easter, or Happy belated Passover, or Happy Weekend—or whatever, or however, you choose to celebrate the next few days!
All my best and all my love.