Care to Gaze at The Cross and at The Empty Tomb with Me?

She was covered with cuts running deep into her soul. Her face was smeared with disgrace, she reeked of vileness and impurity, and she had been bearing the weight of the “good girl” mask for too long. She couldn’t see where her life was heading, she didn’t know if anything was worth it at all.

But there He was. Hanging on that tree. Gazing at her lovingly, steadily. He had ugly gashes all over his body, too. 39 and more marring His bloody back; uncountable ones scattered all around His head where thorns from His mock crown had dug in deep; two big piercings — one for each hand; and deep, deep punctures on His feet, where nails had been driven to hold Him steadily — yet agonizingly — in place.

The smell of raw flesh wafted around her nostrils, but a stench far greater than that overtook her — the awful odour of sin. All coming from a Man who she thought had never fallen, never ever sinned.

His breathing came in raspy gasps and she knew He wouldn’t hold up for much longer. She had thought she knew the suffocating pain of breathing. But she realized all the times she had felt overwhelmed by the mere act of inhaling and exhaling were nothing compared to what He seemed to be going through.

Suddenly, He breathed His last. A few words tumbled out His mouth — she didn’t quite catch it yet — and the earth rumbled when He died.

Her hope departed along with Him.

A soldier pierced His side, making blood and water come gushing out.

He must have died of a broken heart.

For who? She thought. For me? No. He couldn’t possibly.

But she couldn’t understand why hot tears flowed down her cheeks, healing places where cuts once were, slowly ridding her of her putrid smell.

* * *

She stood face to face with a tomb. But the stone was rolled to its side. Her breath caught, not daring to believe what it all meant.

And then a Gardener approached her. He was smiling kindly, His manners were friendly, and He was looking at her with a sparkle in His eyes. She realized she knew that look. She had seen it before, in a dream, perhaps in a distant memory.

It was almost the same as the look given to her by the Man on the Cross, but the Gardener’s had a hint of victory.

Then the words she had heard the Man say suddenly came creeping back at her. They resonated in her heart and for a moment, she thought she understood. He had said, “It is finished.” Was it?

The Gardener approached her, showing her the scars in His hands.

She heard Him utter the same thing and, this time, her heart was able to grasp it more firmly.

“It is finished.”

Every cut she once had disappeared, every smear vanished, and a new fragrance took over her being. Her mask fell off, hope filled her being and suddenly she knew —

It was worth it all.

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No to Hangdog Skulking

Wasn’t able to write a paraphrase today. But I shall share to you some scripture anyway. For those who find themselves hangdong skulking.

Psalm 25 (The Message)

A David Psalm

25 1-2 My head is high, God, held high;
I’m looking to you, God;
No hangdog skulking for me.
3 I’ve thrown in my lot with you;
You won’t embarrass me, will you?
Or let my enemies get the best of me?
Don’t embarrass any of us
Who went out on a limb for you.
It’s the traitors who should be humiliated.
4 Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.
5 Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?
6 Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!
7 Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!
8 God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.
9 He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.
10 From now on every road you travel
Will take you to God.
Follow the Covenant signs;
Read the charted directions.
11 Keep up your reputation, God;
Forgive my bad life;
It’s been a very bad life.
12 My question: What are God-worshipers like?
Your answer: Arrows aimed at God’s bull’s-eye.
13 They settle down in a promising place;
Their kids inherit a prosperous farm.
14 God-friendship is for God-worshipers;
They are the ones he confides in.
15 If I keep my eyes on God,
I won’t trip over my own feet.
16 Look at me and help me!
I’m all alone and in big trouble.
17 My heart and kidneys are fighting each other;
Call a truce to this civil war.
18 Take a hard look at my life of hard labor,
Then lift this ton of sin.
19 Do you see how many people
Have it in for me?
How viciously they hate me?
20 Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble;
Don’t let me down when I run to you.
21 Use all your skill to put me together;
I wait to see your finished product.
22 God, give your people a break
From this run of bad luck.

I just love the translation from The Message, don’t you? Here’s to a skulkingless week!

Unending Fellowship

God, I want to be constantly aware of Your presence. I want to live everyday with You inside my heart and with me inside Yours. But I am unsure how.

Walk blamelessly, You tell me. Do what is right. Speak from your heart and don’t say anything malicious about other people. Live peacefully with others, do only the things that you would like to be also done unto you. Hate evil. Honour those who honour Me. Use cash wisely. Be generous; make sure you only own honest money. Do these and you won’t be shaken.

But Lord, that doesn’t really answer my question.

It does, You say. For in doing so, you include Me in every part of your life. I’ll take part in chiselling out your integrity and character. I’ll take part in moulding you and your relationship with others. I’ll take part in forming your heart. I’ll take part in managing your wallet and earthly bank account. I’ll take part in creating the very stability of your life.

I see.

So be it, Lord. Let me live with me in You and You inside of me.

END
Based on Psalm 15

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The Alabaster Box

She came in unexpectedly. Weeping, blubbering, as if someone was dead — or was at least going to die. All eyes were on her. Simon’s. The Teacher’s. His disciples’. But only the Teacher seemed unrattled.

She held in her hand a box made of alabaster — small, translucent, the expensive perfume almost reaching its brim.

The woman approached The Great Teacher. Simon, whose dinner was still lodged in-between his teeth, rose up with the intention of driving the girl away from his home. But a look from the Teacher held him down. Slowly, he took his seat again.

She and the Teacher were almost eye to eye, but she didn’t dare raise her eyes to look into his. I and everyone else in the room held our breaths. She moved slowly until she was right behind him.

She held the box with both hands and smashed it on the dusty floor. With tears streaming down her face, she poured out its contents over His head. The intoxicating perfume wafted through every corner of the room.

She didn’t stop there. She knelt down until her face touched the Teacher’s feet. With her tears, she washed the dirt and the grime away. With her hair, she wiped the salty liquid dry.

She poured the remaining perfume, kissing his feet and weeping into them some more.

A murmur began to rise inside the room. One disciple, Judas I think, spoke up saying, “What a waste! That perfume was worth a year’s wages! It should have been sold! The money could have been given to the poor!”

I agreed with him. It must have taken the woman a fair amount of time to collect the fragrant essence of nard. But she poured it all over the Teacher, exhausting it in one sitting.

Yet I couldn’t help but put myself in her place. If I had been a woman — if I had a jar of perfume, too — would I have had the audacity to pour it out on the teacher also? I might have. But then I might have been too afraid to. The looks the men gave her were not ones of praise and good regard.

The Teacher shushed Judas down. “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”*

I and the rest of the men looked down uneasily at the floor. The Teacher was right. Plus, the woman was the only one who honoured Him enough to wash His feet. None of us had touched His with even so much as a wet rag.

I stole a glance at her, respect making its way into my eyes. What she did unto Him was indeed a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I wished I had done the same. I wished I could also do the same.

END
Based on the text from Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 7, and John 12
*Text directly copied from Matthew 26:10-13 (NIV)

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To Those Who Delight

Eden is delightful. That sentence itself is redundant, since “eden” literally means “delight”. But it is. A delight, I mean. Glorious trees surround my home. Flowers shining like gold, sapphire, ruby — every colour imaginable — they fill its every nook and crany. Fruits — succulent, rich, and mouthwatering — they grow everywhere and I can feast on them all, save for a certain kind of fruit growing from this one certain tree.

There are plenty of things to do here. Just today, my Lord brought the animals to me, asking me to name them one by one. It’s great fun. I love speaking names out. I love declaring. I love discovering a creature’s essence and I love calling it forth to life.

It’s strange though. As I did my assignment, I noticed this very peculiar thing. All those animals — there was always two of each kind.

Why did they come in twos? I’m not complaining. Yet why — why is it that when it comes to me, there seems to be nothing — nobody else the same as me?

I close my eyes. Sleep comes. The last thing I see is the face of my Lord — my Father — smiling down at me.

***

His eyes are soft. Yet as I look on, I sense a burning fire in them — red hot, a mixture of passion and devotion.

I call Him “Father”. He was the first Being I have ever had the privilege to see. He was the One who led me around the garden so that I could look upon the animals, munch upon the fruits, and drink upon the beauty of the blossoms and the trees.

I love everything about Him. Yet, though I know I am complete, I feel like something — a part of me — is missing. Or perhaps I am the missing part of something?

But what?

Suddenly, I see him. Suddenly, he sees me.

***

I have just woken up. And what is in my view? Lo and behold, a creature of great beauty!

I have never seen anything like her. She’s — is there even a word fit to describe the being before me?

She looks at me tentatively, yes, even bashfully. What should I say? I must say something to break this silence. I must — Oh, what should I say, what should I say?

I feel for my heart and then I notice an odd sensation just below my chest. I touch my rib cage, feeling for the bones underneath my skin. Something is different.

Suddenly, I know what I must do. Suddenly, I know what I must say to the maiden before me.

***

“At last!” He says. “This one is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman’ because she was taken from ‘man.'”

I blush. I look around for my Father and I see Him smiling at me. “Go on,” His eyes seem to say.

I take a step forward. The man reaches out, gently taking both of my hands.

“My name is Adam. You… you shall be called ‘Eve’. You shall become a mother of all who live.”

Father’s soft yet passionate glance seems to be reflected in the man’s eyes. I gaze into them, feeling a shy smile creeping to my lips.

“Hello, Adam,” I breath. “Yes I am Eve. I shall be called your Eve, a mother to all who live.”

We walk, hand in hand. We turn our heads to our Father. The Father grins.

He is delighting in Adam and me.

END
Based on Genesis 2

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To Those Who’ve Fallen

I have sinned. Greatly. I am not worthy to be called king. I am not worthy to stand in this throne.

I killed somebody. I took away somebody’s life by making him fight in the front lines, by positioning him in the most dangerous location of all.

All because I was enamoured. All because I was enraptured. All because —

All because of her. Bathsheba.

But I love her. I do.

***

My lord, my king — how we have fallen. I knew I should have taken those cleansing rites somewhere else. I knew I should have said no when your messengers sent for me. I knew I should have told you that you couldn’t have me, that I loved and respected my husband too much to commit such a despicable act.

But what’s done is done. There’s nothing I can do to change what was.

I must face the consequences of my own actions.

I must learn to be responsible for the choices that I — yes I — have made.

***

She was such an unusual beauty. She was such a marvellous creature. And she was bathing in broad daylight for me to see. I was idle. I was tempted.

I gave in.

And then she sent me the message. “I’m with child,” she said.

I tried to patch things up. I asked her husband to go home. I even encouraged him to sleep with her. But he didn’t. “How could I when my comrades are camping out in tents and in the open fields?” he exclaimed.

I was left with no choice. I had to.

***

You should know it broke my heart, hearing how my husband died. I somehow knew you were behind it. I did love him. I loved him very much.

You took him away from me. You took my pride away, too, together with my dignity —

You — Oh, how is it that even though you are a murderer and an adulterer, I respect you, honour you and even — gasp —

Love you?

***

I know what I did displeased God. I know what I did has brought a curse upon my home.

But I know His grace is unending. I know His forgiveness is encompassing. His love —

Oh, I am not worthy to receive His love.

Oh, but create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit in me.*

I must go to her. I must give her my comfort. I must tell her that she is forgiven, too.

***

I understand that God washes us of our guilt, that He cleanses us from our sins. I understand that even though we have fallen to the deep end, He has already restored to us the joy of our salvation.*

My king, I am yours. God has forgiven me, so I choose to forgive you.

And I — I forgive myself, too.

END
Based on 2 Samuel 11&12, mixed in with New Testement concepts on forgiveness
* From Psalm 51, David’s Psalm after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba

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To Those Who Mourn

I miss him. Terribly so. Naomi is a comfort. I am thankful she’s here, putting on a brave face, consoling me even though she has suffered greater losses herself.

The least I could do is go with her. To her home country, to Bethlehem. Her people shall be my people and her God shall be my God.

She advised me and Orpah to stay in Moab but what will happen to me here? I don’t care if Naomi won’t bear any more children. I don’t care if there’ll be no one else to continue the family line.

I shall die where she dies and I will be buried where she will be buried. I will serve her for the rest of my life. I will take care of her the way that she has taken care of me.

***

Who is that girl? I have been seeing a lot of her lately. There’s something about her — she looks fragile but there’s a strength inside her that I can’t understand.

Oh. She is the Moabite. The daughter of Naomi who has returned here to Bethlehem after her husband and two sons died. So. She’s the one caring for the poor soul now, is she?

Bless her.

***

Strange. I’ve been gathering leftovers after the harvesters. The thing is, there really shouldn’t be so much left to gather. But for the past days, I seem to be gathering whole bundles of barley as well.

The owner of this field seems very kind. He gave me some roasted grain the other day. I ate till I was full, yet I still had some left over.

Naomi says he is one of our family redeemers. She gave me some strange advice earlier today. She said that it was time for her to find me a permanent home so that I will be provided for. And so…

We’ll see what will happen tonight. Her idea seems quite illogical, but I trust her with my whole heart.

***

There’s a woman in my threshing floor. One moment, I’m eating and drinking. Another moment, I’m sleeping. And then the next thing I know — Hold on. Why, if I’m not mistaken, the woman lying at the foot of my bed is —

Ruth.

***

My lord, Boaz, is really so kind. He did not disgrace me when he found me at his feet, covered with the same piece of cloth covering him. I was so frightened. I really didn’t know how he would react and that scared me so.

But he just looked upon me fondly. And he made sure that I went home while it was still dark so that nobody would think anything bad of me.

He said that he will marry me. He said that he will redeem my family, Naomi’s family, the line of Perez. But there is a closer kin. Still, he said he will settle things with him and will let me know if that man will have me or if he’ll let Boaz take and marry me.

I hope he’ll let Boaz have me. Because…

Because I’m already beginning to fall in love him.

***

She is a remarkable woman. The way she honours her mother-in-law speaks quite a lot. And to think that she’s a Moabite.

She’ll be mine soon. The elders at the gate have borne witness that the other redeemer has passed her on to me.

The elders have released their blessings.

Now I must go and tell Ruth and Naomi.

END
Based on the book of Ruth

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To Those Who Wait

I can not believe father. How could he? How could he do this to me? He knows how much I love him. He knows how long I have waited for him. Seven years. I have waited seven long years for this man.

How my heart fluttered when my eyes first caught a glimpse of him — he was with his flock at the well in Paddan-Aram; I was with mine. How my heart leapt when he spoke to me, kissed me, and told me that we were of kin. How my heart did somersaults when he told father he would work seven years for him if he would give me — me — to him, as his wife.

I counted the days, remaining optimistic though the months were long and unbearable. My anticipation grew each passing year. I knew that, though I must wait and tarry, the night when he could call me his own and I could call him mine would soon be near.

But who is inside the marriage chamber now?

Leah. Not me. Leah.

How could he?

* * *

Last night was… unbelievable. Finally. After working for her hand for seven long years — ahh, seven years are but seven days to a man in love — she’s mine. She’s finally mine. I can finally spend the rest of my life with her. I can finally have sons and daughters with her. She’s mine. Mine forever.

She stirs. Shall I say good morning first? Or shall I drink of the honey of her lips before anything else?

Wait a minute. She isn’t my Rachel.

The woman beside me — she’s — she’s not Rachel.

* * *

Seven more days. Father said to wait for seven more days. He said it’s not customary for the younger to get married before the older. Well, he could have told everyone that before this all happened.

Well, Jacob shall have me seven days from now.

But he’ll have to work for father for an additional seven years.

I honour the man. The arithmetic is easy.

Seven years past plus the seven years to come. He would be toiling a total of fourteen years — yes, fourteen years — just for me.

* * *

Fourteen years, a hundred forty — what is a year to a man in love? What is a week? What is a day?

Time is simply transitory. I love her. I will fight for her. If I have to work in her father’s fields forever, I would.

Because she’s worth it.

She is.

END

Based on Genesis 29:1-30

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