I tried not to look like Julia Roberts at the polo match in Pretty Woman. Not because of a polka dotted sun dress or suddenly being model material. It had more to do with the fist pumping I was trying to control. But the lyrics matched the beat of my heart…and my arms were already stretched high. At this point, I didn’t even care that the only reason I made 8th grade choir was because I was sandwiched between two girls that could sang.
I needed rescue / My sin was heavy / But chains break at the weight of Your glory / When I was broken / You were my healing / Now Your love is the air that I’m breathing / I have a future / My eyes are open / ‘Cause when You called my name / I ran out of that grave. –Glorious Day by Kristian Stanfill
I don’t sing those words just as a sinner saved, but as someone who almost drowned in a season of sin. I know how the prodigal felt when he squinted his eyes against the horizon and saw his Father already on the way. And to this very second, it still shreds me. It’s why I can barely keep my hands on the computer as I type those lyrics.
And the fist pumping always starts at the same point…
But a few Sundays ago, as I sang those words, the Holy Spirit whispered louder than the drums and my own shouting voice, “Linds., if your chains were broken at the weight of My glory, then why do you keep trying to pick up that man’s standing next to you and put them back around his neck?”
“What?” I’m sure my eyes squinted, they always do when I’m offended.
This was supposed to be our moment. Our theme song. Come on, Jesus, no need to step on my toes when I’m in dance mode.
You see, I’m not the only prodigal living in my house. I remember the night Jason’s heart turned back for home. I had been waiting. For a year and a half my prayers dripped with desperation. And when he turned for home, I was right behind the Father, sprinting towards that man. My man.
But his journey had left me picking up pieces of my heart, and somewhere that celebration turned to condemnation. And who wants to party with that?
I still remember one night when we were “discussing” everything and he looked at me, “Linds., Jesus has already forgiven me for that, I wish you would too.” The memory of it still punches me in the gut.
From that point, I put more effort into my words. So, the other day, I pushed back, “Come on, Lord, you know the only time I sling that mud now is when he really ticks me off. Or when I’m triggered and taken right back to that time.” It’s really not very often.
But when someone has been forgiven, slinging sin in their face “not very often”, is way too often.
I kept singing those words, my hands didn’t move, but my mind left the auditorium and I could feel the exhaustion that I think way too many of us feel. Drained from carrying others junk that was never meant for our shoulders. From bending over and lifting heavy, broken chains. Then attempting to hold them up while trying to figure out…can I tie this? Loop these broken pieces together? Rig it up with some sort of rope? Better yet, where’s the welding machine? Good grief.
Too many have been repentant and turned back for home, only to have someone try and bind them with the sin that was already broken off.
I’ve had a moment or two where something from that time has hit me. But I’ve pictured myself picking up those heavy chains, already knowing they won’t hold together, and they’re only going to bring weariness with them. So, I decide to kick them to the side and look at the here and now. Breathing thankfulness for repentance. Restoration. Forgiveness. And the fact that my own chains don’t hold me down.
My heart begins to drum…
And my fist starts pumping.
P.S. Jason Carney, thank you for only picking up my chains to throw them off the side of the cliff.