The nails in Your hands, the nail in Your feet

They tell me how much You love me

The thorns on Your brow, they show me how

You bore so much shame to love me

And when the heavens pass away

All Your scars will still remain

And forever they will say just how much You love me

So I want to say,

Forever my love, forever my heart, forever my life is Yours, it’s Yours.

~Richard Cimino~

 

Your life laid down crucified

Your arms stretched out and open wide

To rescue me so I can be a child of God.

From nail pierced hands to thorn pierced brow

Your blood flows down to me somehow

It cleanses me so I can be a child of God…

…The proof of love, the price of grace

You traded all to take my place

You died for me so I could be

A child of God

~Todd Proctor~

 

[What Does Being Broken Really Look Like?]

For much of the last week, I anxiously awaited Sunday night. God had asked me to take a step of obedience, in spite of the objections from my head and heart. I agreed, and He told me that I would emerge from the night broken; that by taking this step He was going to do something with lasting significance for my life. He had revealed to me recently how hard my heart has grown, how strongly I’ve guarded it against hurt and brokenness. He had also placed in me a desire to move from this place of cold and hard-heartedness. He asked me when I had last wept, and He had quietly whispered to me His desire for me to know Him more intimately. And so, I agreed to what He asked, wishing there was another way, but knowing that obedience was the only way.

I know it seems silly. All God asked me to do was watch a movie. However, asking me to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, was asking an extremely difficult thing. I was incredibly afraid to see this movie. Since I was a child, nightmares have come easily – vivid and violent nightmares, often with a sense of immense darkness and overpowering fear. For this reason I pick movies carefully, leaning towards those that convey humor, as opposed to ones depicting the darker realities of life. The problem is no longer that extreme, but it is still difficult to predict what movies result in nightmares. I once got a nightmare from watching the movie adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist! As a child I saw the movie version of Charlotte’s Web and it scared me to the point of crying. Ever since, I’ve been irrationally afraid to read the book or view the film again. When I was a young child, my parents showed my brothers and I portions of the Jesus Film on a Good Friday. It scared me and made me cry. Since that time I’ve refused to watch any movie that contained images of the torture and crucifixion of Christ.

I was scared too, of being broken. I was also scared of the reaction my friends and family I had invited to see the film would have to my brokenness. I was worried that I would allow my fears to come between God and what He wanted to do in my life with this film.

With all these thoughts circling in my mind, I entered the theater and sat down next to my younger brother. He handed me the wad of Kleenex that I had asked him to bring, and the two of us settled in for the two hours that I had dreaded for much of the week. It didn’t take long before we locked hands – a constant reminder of the reality of what we were viewing. My face was often buried in my free hand or in his shoulder. I watched from between my fingers or behind a cascade of hair that fell over my face as I laid my head on my brother’s shoulder. I was overcome by what I was witnessing – the graphic suffering of my Lord. I longed to weep, but the tears wouldn’t come. One or two rolled down my cheeks, but the release of weeping I yearned for never came.

I was surprised by my own reactions. When Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” the gut reaction that I was forced to stop was to scream out, “No. Don’t forgive them. They know what they’re doing. They’re pure evil, and they’re enjoying your suffering. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” Never before have I longed for Jesus to exercise His power as the Son of God, to step from the cross and make retribution for the evils committed against Him.

But here’s the key to my experience with this movie. I went expecting to be broken – to come face to face with issues in my life, and to fall flat on my face in surrender to Christ. Instead, as I watched and longed to weep, God whispered over and over into my ear, “I did this for you.” When Jesus was flogged, His body ripped open and His blood shed, a voice again whispered, “This is for you.” As the nails were driven through His hands and feet, the voice said, “I love you. I suffered on your behalf.” As I exited the theater and drove home, the words of a song began playing through my mind. … The nails in your hands, the nail in your feet, they tell me how much you love me… It’s an overwhelming thing, to realize that someone has suffered and died in your place.

God told me that if I obeyed Him and watched this movie I would be broken. What then, does being broken really look like? It was not what I expected. I expected weeping, complete spiritual and emotional collapse. I experienced neither – the tears came only sparingly, in single streaks down my face and the unreleased emotions brought on a severe headache. I expected a definitive experience, a crashing voice. Instead, I experienced a gentle whisper and a song. Is this what brokenness looks like? For me, it was. God broke a tiny piece of the hard mass that was my heart. He penetrated it in a new way with His love for me. One day soon, I will again be able to weep. For now, I am overwhelmed with the enormity of the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf, and I am grateful that I chose to obey and experience His Passion.