Squeals burst in the front door: my sister, golden hair bouncing, her left hand held out for all to admire the sparkle.
She was wearing love.
Matt, her new fiancé, tumbled in just behind, radiant.
The family had gathered to feast, tipped to the secret and awaiting the couple, ready to toast, ready to bless.
They told their story in the dining room sitting side by side, my children draped across their laps, drinking joy.
“Honey, tell them the story of the ring first,” Stephanie gushed.
Matt told of the desire to buy a ring that was more than he could afford, yearning for her to fully comprehend her worth to him.
Family, friends had all been praying, pounding heaven for a man who would fight for the one we knew was luminous.
Four years before, Stephanie had been abandoned by a husband who refused to set down his pornography addiction in order to love a real person. The cocaine-like high drove him over and over to the computer screen until he became consumed, stopped fighting for his marriage. Etched on her heart was the statement that she wasn’t worth enough (to keep His love, to keep His desire, to be fought for) and the lie burrowed deep.
She fled to the cross. Exhausted from chasing, searching, bleeding, she laid down in the cross’ shadow, for deep draughts of unconditional love, for healing, for covering, and for slate-sweeping forgiveness.
For four years I’ve had a front seat, watched the cocoon waiting, the painful chrysalis disintegration, the strain of the emerging new life, then the fierce beating of delicate wings. Four years of hard work with counselors and inner healing prayer, and now, she stands kaleidoscopic art. (Stephanie, sister, I am so proud of your hard work! You are regal, compassionate, your wounds given for the healing of others.)
But, yes, now back to the ring. For months she had been walking into Matt’s house and seeing kenosis at work: God-fueled love self-emptying. Literally.
Month by month she watched his house get more and more bare. A movie night with friends moved to her apartment because, as she found out, he no longer had a couch. Then during a dinner at his place for a small group, Stephanie walks past Matt’s room and is shocked by the starkness, his dresser gone, his bed missing, her eyes resting on a pile of blankets crumpled on the floor for him to sleep on.
All this in order to clearly translate to Stephanie: “I will fight for you.”
Looking into each other’s eyes deep, they gushed with stories, and we wept, for joy and for the truth… for the small light-bursting reflection of Him who fights…for me, for you.
Jesus, God-full power Himself, left the perfect of heaven, submitted himself to total vulnerability, was born a newborn in poverty, and then driven by a mission to rescue us from our sinful chaos.
Finally, he lay down on the cross, rejected his supernatural powers and authority over the universe in order to have nails hammered into hands and feet, oxygen slowly stolen from collapsing lungs.
He refused to let death/hell/shame/fear steal anything more from our lives.
The cross became the most profound love letter ever written. He was willing to sell everything, to be covered with our sin and shame, to lay down heaven, comfort, even his very life to clearly mouth: “I choose you.”
The truth is, resurrection and ascension and 2000 years have passed and He hasn’t stopped.
He still fights to clearly enunciate love and the possibility of a an eternal future full of life – – in a language you will best understand
…to redeem your story too.