Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dear Athletic Trainer

To the One that Taped Up My Shin Splints Each Day,

Do you remember that bright sunny autumn day when we were walking across the fields from the athletic training room to the soccer fields? Probably not. I was one of many kids that you taped up each day as fall athletes endured two a days.

I had never had shin splints before but when I when I went to see you about the pain in my legs, you knew right away what the problem was. You explained it to me and then you taped me up and sent me on my way to run all those miles while my muscles built up enough to stop hurting. Twice a day, I came in to get taped. The tables often full of kids waiting their turn for your magic. And each time you stood at the foot of the table and worked on my legs, you saw me. Not just my physical pains, but me.

That day so, so many years ago, we were walking across the field. We knew each other well enough by then. You knew I was a church kid and you had invited me to club, young life club that is. We were enjoying the sun, the warmth that make early fall days in Oregon so special. Our conversation was interrupted by another student asking if the training room was open. You responded, “Just for you,” and kept walking along. Just for you. Those words caught me. I asked you why you would say it was just for him, when you had left the room open for a whole group of kids. I had seen a few in there as we left together. I am sure that part of my consternation was that you had said it to a football player, who probably did believe that the room was left open just for him. (These same football players would not let us lowly soccer players use their field even when they were not using it so my resentment was justified.)

You said something along the lines that whether ten kids, fifty kids or just that one kid used the room, it was there just for them. It didn’t matter how many walked through the door, the room was there for each one. “Just like Jesus. He died just for you. Whether thousands of others are saved also, or just one, he died just for you.”

I think that was the first time I thought about Christ’s death on the cross as personal, as just for me. I could never think of myself as having enough value, enough worth to have someone, anyone do something just for me.

Just for me.

How my faith changed that day and in the weeks to come when it sunk that Jesus was there just for me. Not for me as part of a group. Not for me as a member of my family. But just for me.

I am writing letters to a number of people, but it was you that taught me that the number doesn’t matter. That no matter how big a number is, the one matters.

Jesus died just for me.

Thank you for sharing your faith with me so unabashedly. For taking a simple moment and making it profound.

This freshman girl on the soccer team

Friday, April 18, 2014

We Are Easter People

We are a Sunday people living in a Friday world they say. I am not sure who first said it. I tried googling it but just ran into a list of other people writing blogs and articles about the same theme.

We (Christians) are an Easter Sunday people living in a Good Friday world.

I understand why we write this, why the phrase is oft repeated at this time of year.

Our world feels so broken at times. So full of pain and heartache and illness and true cruelty. A broken world full of broken people. A Good Friday world where people would rather crucify the leader of a religious rebellion, a leader that claims to be God incarnate, a man that heals and teaches us to love our neighbors and turn the other cheek, than allow his sedition to continue.

And as fixers, people who want to know how to make things better, we often will focus on this part of the story. The pain on the cross. The death of Jesus to atone for the sins of mankind, the sins of me. It helps sometimes to know that a price was paid, even if it was by someone else, than to believe that we are worthy just because.

It is easier to focus on the price paid than to live in the grace received.

Sinners saved by grace we say, always focused on who we were before the cross.

I thought the cross was meant to change that. It is finished, Jesus said. Finished. Done. Past. No longer.

This is Christ's body broken for you. This is his blood shed for you. 

These words, these communion words.

Do this in remembrance of me, he said.

We remember his broken body, the blood spilled out.

But we forget the why. We forget that all of this is so we can have the resurrection. The He Is Risen.

It is good to remember this day, Good Friday. But we don't live here.

We live in the Resurrection.

He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed.