Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle; of the mighty conflict sing; tell the triumph of the victim, to his cross thy tribute bring. Jesus Christ the world’s Redeemer from that cross now reigns as King. (Venantius Honorius Fortunatus, from The Hymnal 1982)
When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life. (John 19:30; context)
For the last seven devos of Lent: last week and during this Holy Week, we are encountering Christ’s seven last words from the cross. These “words” are actually full sentences, and there are three in Luke, three in John, and Matthew and Mark share one, as well (though with a slight variation). For each of the words, I have written a song; now, the songs may or may not include the sayings themselves. Rather, think of them as my response to Jesus speaking out from the cross, a place of vulnerability, shame, and torment – that Jesus turned into a place of majesty, love, and salvation.
For each song, I gave myself no more than two hours to write and one hour to record it. These are by no means polished songs; they are the responses of my heart to Christ crucified. I hope that they enrich you on your Holy Week journey as they have enriched me. What follows is “Ten Years,” my response to Jesus’ fourth word from the cross.
(If you can’t see the music player, download the song here.)
I was sitting in the back pew on a Sunday morn
Pondering the sermon when my heart felt strangely warm
Whispers of grace set my life ablaze
And I heard you say, “I’ll be with you for all of your days.”
In the spring the next year I was reading from your saints,
And I saw my life clear as a brilliant artist paints.
The plan of your call there for me to see,
But the path was never as clear as I wanted it to be.
I’ve followed you for ten years,
Sometimes near and sometimes far;
You gave me courage when fears
Told me you’re not who you say you are.
But I wonder what you finished
On that cross at Calvary;
Is it just a faint wish
To believe you saved me?
‘Cause I’ve followed you for ten years
and the journey’s long and rough;
Sometimes I waver then hear
Someone say your grace is good enough.
But the fear still pulls me under,
The light seems far away.
Forgive me that I wonder
What did you finish that day?
I was saying healing prayers for teens one summer when
The Holy Spirit flowed through me and brought new life to them.
When we were done, I just sat and cried;
I was unprepared for how much God I could keep inside.
Nearly two months into first year classes at my school,
I was reading prayers at chapel, felt like such a fool.
Called you by name, but no prayer was found:
How could I be praying everyday and forget you’re around?
How come I can hear your call and ignore it just the same?
How come I can know you heal, yet pretend that I’m still lame?
You never said that this life I chose
Would be easy but you promised to be with me till the close.
Dear God, help me to know that doubt is a part of faith. Help me to know that the good work you have started in me is far from complete, but is ever moving towards fulfillment. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, kneeling at the foot of the cross and feeling Christ’s arms of love reaching out to embrace the whole world.