“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.”
How true this verse is. How I fear and hate the inner Pharisee that is so skilled at covering over a bad attitude with a spiritual veneer.
I sing in the choir at church. For a few weeks now, I’ve been struggling with an attitude I know isn’t pleasing to the Lord, mixed with some genuine tiredness in response to some very real stresses we’ve had (and are still having) recently, some genuine convictions I am struggling to understand, and probably a need to just take a break from choir for a little while. It all came to a head this week with a presentation we had this weekend in preparation for Easter. I’ve mentioned before that I have struggles with artistic portrayals and theatrical depictions of Jesus. I just do. It stems back to some earlier experiences I’ve had, and I still struggle with whether my concerns are legitimate or just me being hyper sensitive spiritually or even worse, legalistic.
Well, when we first began discussing this choir and drama production, that familiar qualm came back and I wasn’t sure if I would sing in this play or not. I went to practice, learned the music, and struggled over the decision, trying to determine how much of my reluctance is legitimate, and how much is just tiredness and, worse, how much may be deeper sinful attitudes I struggle with periodically. Trying to come to terms honestly with what’s really happening in my heart here.
Long story short, I chose to sit out for a little while, mainly because I felt it would be better to sit out if I couldn’t sing without having every little thing affect my attitude, but I didn’t really tell many people why. I still don’t know how serious my concerns about actors playing the role of Jesus and artistic license with the portrayal and the play on emotions that is part and parcel of such a performance should be. I still don’t know if that should be a concern or if l am thinking too much, but I am beginning to have a growing conviction that more of my discomfort with it than I am yet comfortable admitting may have been an excuse I used in my own mind to justify some less spiritual attitudes I was struggling to overcome.
This morning I sat in the audience and did get to worship in a way that is hard for me when I’m singing as part of the performance, and for that reason I am pretty sure I made the right decision to sit out this time. I'm not sure I would have been as able to heed the heart work that the Holy Spirit did in me this morning had I not been sitting quietly in the pew today.
What has struck me most and foremost this year about the crucifixion is just how clueless the crowd and the soldiers and the religious leaders and Pilate and Herod and everyone involved were about just Who Jesus really was, and how clueless we still often can be today about just Who He IS. And it struck me how clueless I am, too. How often I am just not in awe of His majesty, His worth, His holiness, His love and His amazing grace. It struck me how often I am flippant about things I should not be flippant about or lazy about prayer or just so absorbed with my little life that I forget that it is so not all about me. It strikes me to my very core when I think of Jesus on the cross praying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is the essence of grace. He forgives all the ugliness and ignorance and pride and laziness and forgetfulness and uncharitable attitudes....and.....and.....and....that is in my heart. He has forgiven me so much, and too many times I am so self-centered and self-focused that I cannot even see what is real. I can’t even see how awesome it is that I even get to be in His very presence, clean and forgiven. This is what hit me in my very heart this morning. May I learn to see Jesus and savor Him and glorify Him for who He is and for how worthy He is of praise. How I long for my one desire to be to know Him and to see Him and to praise Him. How I long for my one aim to be to please Him.
How ashamed I am and how painful it is when I come face to face with the hypocrite within who will try to cover over sinful attitudes and legalism rather than face them and repent. How thankful I am for the grace which brings those attitudes to light and will not leave me in the Pharisaical mode but lovingly brings me back to the foot of the cross and shines His light on my heart, unveils my eyes from deception, and reminds me that He has washed me clean with His blood and clothed me with His righteousness and that He is ever interceding for me at the throne of grace.
How very, very thankful I am for grace.